Eventually, I’m going to get around to all of Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books. They’re just so satisfying.
Genre: YA Fantasy
Synopsis: Beka Cooper comes from a poor family in the Lower City that got lucky–the Lord Provast of the city’s guardsmen took them in. Since then, Beka has been in training to be a guardswoman, or Dog.
Terrier follows Beka as she first becomes a Puppy, or a Dog in training. There are two serial killers in the Lower City, and Beka cares very much about stopping them. Luckily for her, her informants are capable of bringing in special information to help bring them in. That is, if Beka survives her first year patrolling the streets of the dangerous Lower City.
Bloodhound follows Beka as a new Dog, on a hunt for counterfeiters. The counterfeiters are threatening to collapse the country’s economy, so much bad money are they dumping into the market.
In Mastiff, Beka goes on the most important Hunt of her life. A kidnapped child of no small importance must be found, and very powerful enemies want to prevent that from happening. Beka, her team, and her scent hound will track the scent over the country until they find the kid is found, or until they’re all killed in the attempt.
Series: Three books, each following a standalone plot at different points of Beka’s life.
POV: First person, journal-style.
Romance: The novels cover sweeping sections of Beka’s life, and so sometimes she’ll be in relationships. But the emphasis of each book is very much the current Hunt that Beka’s on.
These are great. They follow Beka as she investigates, as she patrols the city keeping order, and in her personal life. Each of the investigations is very different, too.
Terrier has Beka in her local district, where she knows how things work, but against big and secretive enemies. In Bloodhound, Beka is more out of her element, having to follow the leads for the counterfeiting enterprise. She even needs to do some undercover work and playacting, things that make her uncomfortable. Mastiff has Beka on a tracking mission, where she needs to find a child being trucked about the country, and play nice with nobles trying to get top secret information out of her, or hinder her investigation. (Playing nice with nobles is hard when you’re a commoner and they have all the power. You can’t even investigate them properly.)
The plots themselves are a lot of fun, and I love the supporting characters. Beka’s training dogs, Goodwin and Tunstall, are good at their jobs in different ways, balancing each other. Beka’s breakfast friends are a steadfast group with great chemistry, even as they avoid certain topics of conversation so as not to upset each other. Sabine, the lady-knight who doesn’t mind slumming around in the Lower City and doesn’t care much for rank, is a good addition to the eclectic cast. Pounce, Achoo, and Slapper–the animal companions of the story–are compelling in completely different ways.
Beka herself, I loved. She takes her job very seriously. She’s shy in company, and it takes her a while to connect with people. But when she’s working, she’s much more able to interact with people to get the job done. She doesn’t generally seek people out but ends up with a nice core group of people around her anyway.
Compared to other Tamora Pierce heroines, she’s almost as good as Keladry from the Protector of the Small quartet. Alanna from Song of the Lioness, who started it all, is more temperamental. She’s a good character, but of the three Pierce heroines I’ve read about, has to be my least favorite just because the other two are so good and so much more personally compelling, for me.
Keladry is my ideal person. She stands up for people who need it, without taking rank into account. She knows who she is, and her biggest problem is other people refusing to accept that. She doesn’t have the same kind of turmoil about her gender as Alanna has (though that turmoil is understandable and realistic)–she even takes to wearing a dress on her off-time during squire training, so that her guy classmates wouldn’t forget that she was a girl and unashamed of it. She amasses a group around her by being loyal, brave, caring. And she doesn’t have much of a temper.
Beka is very relatable to me. Her introversion, her adherence to the rules. I love how much she cares about what she’s doing. And how much she loves doing it.
Another nice thing that crops up constantly in Tamora Pierce books is the idea that the protagonist, usually starting out young and ending still fairly young by the end of the series, isn’t necessarily going to end up with her first boyfriend. Relationships end. Some people might have passionate romances that may or may not end. Some might have steady relationships. Some might not even end up in relationships at all. Others might take a while to find someone who works for them. It’s different for all of these girls.
I’m writing about all three books in the Legend of Beka Cooper series all in one post, because I couldn’t stop reading in between books long enough to write a review. This is always the case with Tamora Pierce books. I can never stop reading until I’ve finished the series. All of the books I’ve read by her so far have been fantastic.