In the eleventh section of Terrier, Beka listens to ghosts, has an awkward reunion with her siblings, and tries to get information from someone. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Terrier.
SO MANY THINGS JUST HAPPENED.
Beka’s ghost-carrying pigeons visit her again, and it’s overwhelming, to say the least. I got a sense for how truly frustrating it was for Beka to have to hear these spirits when they never get specific. That’s an especially difficult problem because Beka can’t set them free if she can’t find them. For reasons unexplained, though, the pigeons arrive – nine of them OH MY GOD NINE PEOPLE WERE MURDERED – and actually give her specifics. They were hired to dig a well within a cellar, where they discovered the fire opal gems that are at the center of this mystery. Not only that, but there was a mage present who drove off the water, which was clearly so that the gems wouldn’t get wet. So I was wrong in guessing that they were hired to dig a well that ended up being their grave, though I suspect that was their ultimate fate. They were hired to dig up gems for Crookshank. How did he know they were there? Are there other locations? Will more people die???
I also liked that this part reminded me of the dual mysteries at hand. Not only did Crookshank apparently kill nine people in order to get more stones, there’s still the identity of the Shadow Snake to uncover. We know Crookshank was blackmailed and eventually lost his grandson over the fire opals, but when the souls of a bunch of DEAD CHILDREN torment Beka, it’s clear that this whole mystery is going to unearth something even more disturbing. The whole thing feels like a massive conspiracy, and Beka is inching closer and closer to discovering what’s going on. OH GOD I’M SCARED.
The Provost’s House
Amidst this, Beka continues to have to cope with the loneliness and rejection she feels from the people she grew up with, who raised her, and who she loves. And by gods, it’s so goddamn sad. Initially, when Lord Gershom comes to speak with Beka, I thought things would end a lot better than they had. I brought up the fact that Beka’s experience with a mentor/father figure like Gershom was different from Kel’s relationship with Lord Wyldon. Here, Gershom is openly supportive of Beka. He’s honest with her about her first week as a Puppy, but it’s not anywhere near as brutal as what his wife says. No, his honesty is constructive. He wants her to get better! It’s why he shares the story about what happened to Tunstall after became a Dog. Well, I suspect he also told the story because it is fucking hilarious, but it was his way of demonstrating that Beka shouldn’t look down on herself for making mistakes in her first week. She’s been a Puppy for one week. A SINGLE WEEK. This is how she’ll learn to be better, to get better. And it’s precisely what Beka needed to hear.
After lunch (and after Gershom insists that Beka get more gear), Beka gets to hang out with her brothers, which is super joyous and lovely until EVERYTHING IS RUINED. Oh my god, can Nilo’s happiness not be crushed? He is SO PRECIOUS, but I’m worried that he’s also going to turn against Beka. And really, that’s ultimately what’s so upsetting about what happens here. At one point, Diona insists that Beka is turning everyone against here, but the real truth is that this family is turning against Beka. As discussed before, Beka is straddling two worlds at any given moment. In this instance, though, we get to see how she’s torn between the life of privilege that her siblings are getting and the rough, dirty, and violent life of the Lower City. Of course, they all grew up poor and destitute; the issue here is that Diona and Lorine are running in the opposite direction. They’re trying to get as far away from that life as possible. Beka, however, is much more comfortable owning the fact that she did come poverty. And look, as someone who has spent most of his life being poor and lower class, this is something that’s remarkably familiar to me. I’ve known people who got a chance to get out of their economic situations, took that chance, and then turned into completely horrific classist assholes. It happens. I think Diona and Lorine are on that path, Will isn’t that far behind, and Nilo… well, he’s still a child. I don’t think he quite understands what’s going on.
But y’all. Y’ALL.
And then they all did a sad thing, even Nilo. They edged just the tiniest bit from me. Of course, mayhap it was on account of me being the one to get caught. Or mayhap it was me being so ill-kempt, with the dirt and the pigeon stain and all. But they were of a set, four servants-in-training. I was the one what didn’t match.
WOW, OKAY, PUNCH ME IN THE FEELINGS AGAIN, WON’T YOU? I don’t think Beka’s is wrong in perceiving this as a demonstration of how different she is! I think she’s pretty spot-on, and we’ve seen the evidence for this in this section and the last one. It’s also supported by her confident declaration that her home was in the Lower City. Oh god, so, I’M GONNA PROJECT HERE. But Beka’s defense of the Lower City is particularly beautiful to me because I love living in big cities. I love the grit of places like downtown Los Angeles or downtown Oakland. (Though I was in downtown LA this month and what the hell? Businesses everywhere, hipsters everyone, and massive gentrification all over. WHELP.) So Beka, I get you.
In the final third of this section, Beka decides to actually pursue information from Mother Cantwell, and in doing so, she realizes that there have been instances of her overcoming her shyness. Each one? They’re whenever Beka allows herself to be a Dog, which is such an incredible revelation for her. I hadn’t picked up on the fact that she wasn’t shy when chasing Orva, nor in her fight in the tavern. That’s definitely the case when she defends Mother Cantwell from some jerk noble. She uses Cantwell’s thievery to attempt to get more information about the murders or the Shadow Snake, and it’s basically Beka being BOLD AS HELL. I was genuinely shocked at how forward and demanding she was because I’m not used to her behaving this way! It’s so deliciously Slytherin because she sees this opportunity to essentially get a spy for herself. Right??? Using the promise of payment (which I hope she keeps up with, or otherwise this is going to quickly get super messed up), she asks Mother Cantwell to keep her ears and eyes open for information about the nine murdered workers hired to dig a well. However, it’s Cantwell’s reaction to the Shadow Snake that interested me the most:
“I know naught. I’ll ask no questions as will get me floatin’ bum up in the river. I’ve nothin’ the Shadow Snake wants. Long as I keep from his business, we needn’t even bow in the street. Not that anyone knows who to bow to.”
OH GOD. So, clearly, people of the Lower City know the Shadow Snake is real, gets precisely what he wants, and does so violently. So Cantwell stays out of the way because she wants to keep her own life. But then she reveals that once people’s kids started disappearing, folks went to Rogue Kayfer for help were met with scorn and shame and ONE DUDE WAS THROWN INTO THE RIVER. So there’s clearly some sort of mutual understanding between these two, which intrigues me. WHO IS THIS SNAKE? HOW CAN HE GET AWAY WITH THIS? HOW DOES HE KIDNAP PEOPLE SO EASILY?
Oh god, I’m so unprepared.
The original text contains the word “mad.”
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