Publisher: Random House
Release Date: January 1st 2006
Series: Beka Cooper #1
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Young Adult
“I knew well the rules to follow with our training Dogs: Speak when you’re spoken to. Keep out of the way. Obey all orders. Get killed on your own time.”
In 246 H.E., the Provost’s Dogs guard Tortall’s capital city. Beka Cooper is one of their newest trainees – a Puppy wet behind the ears but eager to learn. But Beka will have to learn faster than she bargained for because she’s assigned to the Lower City, Corus’s toughest district. It’s filled with pickpockets who are fast as lightening, rouges who will knock your teeth out with a smile, and murderers with hidden plans. In the constant battle for the Lower City’s streets, Beka will have to use her smarts and her own eerie brand of magic if she hopes to survive.
This is the beginning of Beka’s story, her legend, and her legacy….
I’m sitting here, flying through the second Beka Cooper book, when it occured to me that I should probably write a review for the first, TERRIER, even though I have no idea what to say. Tamora Pierce has once again created an amazing fantasy set in the beloved world of Tortall. And rereading TERRIER properly (it’s long and my attention span was horrible when I tried the first time), I am once again instilled with the need to go buy all the Tortall books I can get my hands on.
Beka Cooper is a Puppy, a guardswomen (think police) in training. A former street urchin with magic in her blood, we follow her diary entries as she records her days and nights spent in the most dangerous part of Corus. I don’t have a very good relationship with books told in diary entries. Often I find them boring and slow. But the ones I do like, novels like TERRIER, are great. They don’t read like a diary, just a first person novel. The action is still there, the humour and danger and suspense that would be at height in the heat of the moment is still portrayed incredibly well. Probably because Beka writes is that way. She recounts things in the order they happened in the way they happened as well as she can remember. We get her thoughts and interpretations in there too. And there are some funny little bits where she’s interrupted by Pounce or falls asleep writing, and moments we’re left with cliffhangers because an emergency came up and Beka didn’t have the time to finish writing everything. The only complaint I have about this was that sometimes the chapters/entries were incredibly long. Every now and then there’s be a chapter break, but Beka was recounting everything that happened chronologically in a manner that flowed. Often I didn’t want to stop!
Beka herself is a wonderful character. Incredibly shy like me, but outgoing and bossy when she absolutely needs to be, I found I could relate to her a lot. She’s a smart girl who’s seen a lot of the dark parts of the world but has made her own way in life and worked to follow her dreams. The other secondary characters also add a great range of people to the cast. Goodwin and Tunstall are just great to read about. Rosto is hilarious and mysterious. And Ersken, Kora, Anika, and Tansy all bring out different sides of Beka and all see the world in very different ways. Thieves and Dogs and housewives, Beka’s friends are a mismatched group that are just plain great to read about.
Plot and pacing wise, this book is pretty quick. It may seem slow at times, but something is always happening and it usually has some kind of significance to Beka or the mystery. Nothing really surprised me in terms of twists except maybe one little detail. This was expected as Beka share everything in her journal. We read her suspicions and thoughts as they develop alongside ours. That one little thing that surprised me Beka didn’t figure out herself until the very last minute, which she reflected in her writing. The plot isn’t slowed down by romance either, because there really isn’t anything significant. There’s a little bit of flirting and I definitely shipped a few characters, but no conclusive relationships developed with Beka. Side characters we definitely saw romance with, and those were nice little side moments. I still have hope though as I have noticed that Pierce like to develop romantic relationships nice and slowly over the course of the series, just the way I like it.
For someone not sure what to talk about, I sure rambled on a bit. Basically I wanted you to know that Pierce has delivered another great fantasy set in her Tortall world. This is told in a different format to the others, but if you loved her strong heroines before, you will probably love Beka. The plot is mostly fast, though the chapters/entries long. I struggled to put this down and right now, I’m really itching to pick BLOODHOUND back up. If you are looking for a fantasy read aimed toward young adults of any age definitely consider picking up TERRIER.