Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: The Legend of Beka Cooper #1
Publisher: Random House
Copyright: Oct. 24, 2006
Pages: 592 (Hardcover)
To Buy: Amazon.com
Acquired from the Library
Beka Cooper is a rookie with the law-enforcing Provost's Guard, commonly known as the "Provost's Dogs," in Corus, the capital of Tortall. To the surprise of the veteran "Dogs," and her fellow "Puppies," Beka requests duty in the Lower City. The Lower City is a tough beat, but its nothing she can't handle. After all, its where she grew up. But when Beka's magical informants--which include dust spinners and flocks of pigeons that carry the voices of the dead--reveal the deaths of eight missing citizens, she realizes that she's stumbled on an underground conspiracy that is bigger than her or her assigned Dogs could have imagined. Someone in the Lower City is terrorizing its citizens into submission and silence, and now its up to Beka and the Guard to figure out the identity of this new underlord before the death toll rises and more people disappear.
Hundreds of years before Alanna ever drew her sword, Tortall had another heroine named Beka Cooper. This is the story of her legend and her legacy...
As a die-hard Tamora Pierce fan, I'm sort of ashamed to admit that it took me this long to get around to reading Terrier--especially since it takes place in Tortall, my all time favorite high fantasy world. But later is better than never, right? And thank the gods. I was reminded of why I fell in love with Pierce's stories all those years ago.
For those of you familiar with Pierce's work, you'll be happy to hear that once again she has created a medieval world rich with detail unique to the realm of Tortall. All of her characters are memorable, and the dialogue is saturated with slang and specialized jargon. In fact, its so saturated that it was like reading an entirely different language. Thankfully, Pierce was kind enough to provide her own Rosetta Stone: Tortall Edition at the back of the book, and eventually I came to enjoy the soldier's colorful (and when I say colorful, I mean colorful) language. Though it did some time to become accostomed to, I felt like the vocabulary used gave the characters a certain kind of depth that made them sound more authentic, given the nature of this world and its rules.
Though the line between good and evil in the Lower City was very thin (unusual, given the nature of Pierce's other books), Beka was a delightfully balanced main character. The girl was incredibly level-headed, focused, brave, and persistant in everything that she did, not to mention forgiving. Though she believes in the law above all else, she doesn't entirely condemn those around her that do what they need to do in order to get by (so long as they don't hurt those around them). Beka's pragmatic way of thinking was very refreshing for the YA genre, and I couldn't help but understand and approve of the logic in every one of her decisions. It was easy to see bits of of Alanna, Daine, and Kel in her character (characters from Pierce's other Tortall series), but yet she was completely original.
However, the one thing that I wasn't terribly fond of was the diary format that the novel was written in. Beka's entries are long, and because of the way that they're written it was easy to forget that I was reading something that Beka wrote. For most of the time, I felt like I was reading just a regular ol' first person narrative. That's not to say that the writing was bad--no, no, it was really very good--but I don't think the book would have lost anything if Pierce had just decided to forgo Beka's time stamp. I dunno. Maybe I'm just biased since I'm so used to the style of her other Tortall books, which are written in the third person perspective.
Overall, I really enjoyed returning to the realm of Tortall, and felt that the plot that Beka stumbles upon was the perfect way to introduce the reader to the trials and tribulations of the Lower City of Corus. I was completely immersed in the investigation, and found myself guessing 'whodunit' up until the very end. I am so glad there there are more books in the series, because only one book with Beka just wouldn't be fair. I cannot wait to read Bloodhound and find out what's in store for her next.
THE RATING: 6/8 TENTACLES