TERRIER is the latest from a brilliant author whose earlier works you've got to read if you haven't already! My expectations for this book, as it is by Tamora Pierce, were, of course, quite high, and I was not disappointed. This might be my new favorite of hers (though it still might be beat out by the Song of the Lioness quartet--it's close), which is certainly saying a lot.
It's the story of Beka Cooper, a Lower City girl and member of the Provost's Guard who lives centuries before Alanna the Lioness and those characters of her world known to fans of Tamora Pierce's other work. Beka lives in the dark time spoken of in one of the Alanna books when every sword, whether held by a man or a woman, was needed. Indeed, Alanna was not the first Lady Knight; hundreds of years before, women could earn their shields without having to hide who they were. In fact, one of the many fascinating characters known to Beka is a lady knight named Sabine. She reminded me of Alanna. Mattes, one of the guardsmen whose job it is to train Beka in their ways, reminds me of one of Alanna's friends, Raoul. Rosto is quite like George Cooper (whose ancestor Beka is!) as well. And fans of the Song of the Lioness quartet will also recognize Beka's cat, Pounce!
When Beka trains to be a Puppy in the Guard, she knows someday she'll be a Dog, and she wants to be a good one. She's quite excited to be assigned to one of the best pairs in the Lower City; indeed, in all of Corus! She knows it'll be hard work, that Mattes and Clary will work her hard, but she's ready for it. This is what she wants to do. She's aided by her friends, her cat, and her magical Gifts of listening to the winds and to the pigeons who carry the souls of the dead.
Soon after she starts her work, Beka learns of some dangerous goings-on in the Lower City, and it's up to her to stop it, as only a true Lower City girl could--one with Beka's listening talents, at that. She knows the people, she knows their ways, and she is uniquely fit for figuring out what's going on in her neighborhood, and that is what she will do.
The format of TERRIER is different from that of Pierce's other books. It's told as Beka's journal, for one thing, meaning it's in first person. All of her other novels are in third person! It's certainly a change, but she does quite well with it. The only problem is the length of some of these journal entries! Beka is tired from her work as a Puppy; she's not going to write twenty, thirty pages in her journal at night! She probably won't even remember enough to write such long entries! That is the only flaw I found in this book, and that's easy to overlook. This is a page-turner, a wonderfully written story, with amazing characters. Whether you're a fan of Tamora Pierce, of fantasy, or of books in general, read this book!