Mark Reads ‘Terrier’: Part 2

In the second part of Terrier, Beka goes on her first shift as a Puppy in the Provost’s Guard. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Terrier.

Wednesday, April 1, 246

PLEASE REMEMBER: THIS IS THE OFFICIAL GUIDE FOR HOW ALL “PARTS” OF THIS TRILOGY WILL BE READ. The beginning and ending lines of each section are noted here. Please be careful not to spoil outside the section, and listen to the mods if they correct you.

So, I think it’s fairly safe for me to assume that the bulk of this book is going to be comprised of Beka’s journal entries. I do like that Pierce sets the standard for the narrative here, and Beka’s honest and dry style works well if you consider that these are meant to be practice for writing reports. Beka is incredibly matter-of-fact about how she describes things, and it’s refreshing. This book already feels so different from the previous Tortall books, and I appreciate that. But it’s not just the way it’s written. In a lot of ways, this is easily the grittiest Tortall book I’m reading. It’s set in the poorer parts of Corus, and I’m clearly going to be dealing with issues like poverty, theft, evil landlords, and child murder. I’M NOT EVEN A TENTH OF THE WAY THROUGH THIS BOOK AND IT’S UPSETTING???

I’m thankful, then, that Beka is so generous in describing everything because I feel like I know nothing. Despite that through George in Song of the Lioness, I learned about Corus and the Rogue, this is so much more detailed and layered, so I definitely feel like I’ve been tossed in the deep end of this book and am struggling to find my bearings. I understand the people here, though that’s usually the easy part. Beka herself is a tough woman who has used her experiences living in poverty and then living with the Lord Provost to inform her knowledge of Corus. However, she’s plagued by a persistent form of shyness, one that makes it challenging for her to interact with her fellow Dogs and Puppies. I wouldn’t say I’m shy these days, but until the end of junior high, I was terrified of any and all public interaction, so yeah, I’m super pleased that Pierce has chosen to make her protagonist struggle with her own shyness. It’s different! It’s new! And it’s an obstacle that Beka is going to have to overcome in order to be a good Dog.

We meet a great number of Dogs and others who work out of the Jane Street kennel, and I’m already going to need every scene to feature any combination of Kebibi, Tunstall, or Goodwin, because THEY ARE SUCH EXCELLENT CHARACTERS RIGHT FROM THE START. I love that it was so easy to get a sense for who they are and how they’ll affect both the story and Beka’s growth. There’s Kebibi Ahuda, Beka’s training master and the Watch Sergeant, who uses her oppressive experiences back in Carthak to be ruthless and motivated and be a good teacher, and I need a novel of just her story. I need it like I need air. Like much of what we see here, Kebibi’s presence adds that air of grit and brutality to this story that makes it so unlike the previous four series I’ve read in Tortall. A lot of it feels intentional, you know? That’s the case with both Clara Goodwin and Matthias Tunstall, who are a literal buddy cop comedy in every way imaginable. Clara is the hard-as-nails, intimidating presence who could probably rip every limb off your body in a half second, and Mattes is charming, quick with a joke, and great at getting any information he wants through manipulation of his own adorableness. And at least I can expect these two to play a huge part in this first book, especially given this part:

Everyone knows that of the Puppies who start their training year in the Lower City, half give up or are killed in the first four months.

Hey, at least Pierce warned me! So should I get attached to the recruits/Puppies that I meet in this chapter? Probably not. Will I inevitably adore many of them and then face inevitable heartbreak because I’ve done so? It is in the cards. Because goddamn it, I already want to take Ersken and hug him and put him in a different book full of actual puppies so that his spirit and kindness won’t be crushed out of him. HE IS TOO GOOD FOR WHAT MAY COME TO HIM. I also liked Verene fairly quick, too. But they’re all separated from each other rather quickly, no? I suppose they’ll come into contact with one another during combat training early in the morning. (Wait, I just thought of something. If Beka is on the evening shift in the Lower City, does that mean she also has to wake up early to attend 4am combat training? THAT SHIT IS ROUGH.) DAMN IT. Basically, I can’t even try to be prepared for these characters to leave the story. The unfairness is built into the novel itself!

I think the case of Crookshank’s grandson being murdered is, at least at first, going to play large part of Terrier. I’m not comfortable with saying it’s the main plot, but Pierce establishes the fact that Tunstall and Goodwin, the best Dogs in the Provost Guard, are unused to having a Puppy to train. So, given that Beka has ties to Crookshank, I think it’ll be a way for her to prove herself to her new partners. Granted, I got the sense that Mattes was way more sympathetic than Goodwin; Goodwin is more concerned about seeing Beka act in accordance with her own knowledge. Words don’t mean as much as behavior to her. And given how brutal we know the Lower City to be (METAL NECKPLATES SWEET GOD), it makes sense that she’d be that way. But who would choose to break the unspoken rule set by the Rogue? It’s widely accepted that “women and children” are “no part of business” when it comes to issues in the Lower City, and someone strangled a child. What the fuck, why??? There are some clues here, though I don’t know if any of it is going to matter. We know that most people hate Crookshank for his “pinchpenny” landlord ways, but then Beka reveals in her journal that she and her mother are friends with some of Crookshank’s family. Do they dislike Crookshank? What other reason would someone have to kill a child?

I’m obviously not meant to know that, so I spent most of this chapter just trying to figure out the Provost Guard. Based on what Goodwin and Tunstall reveal here, they’re definitely a form of a police force, and the Jane Street Kennel works exclusively in the Lower City. Goodwin and Tunstall themselves don’t often have specific routes they walk during their guard because of their seniority, and even then, their shifts involve a complicated process of choosing what battles to fight. Tunstall tests Beka at one point to scope out her surroundings, but when she spots a pickpocket, Tunstall shows her why it’s not necessary for them to arrest him. I liked the idea that they knew who would simply give them more work and who was actually a threat to the general populace. That young boy? He probably wasn’t worth the time they’d have to spend before a magistrate. That’s fascinating to me! Granted, I need more time with these two to understand their process, but it makes sense that they’d have to be discerning at all times. They have to decide how best to invest their time and energy.

In this case, investigating Rolond’s murder is more important. Well, Tunstall also requires Deirdry Noll’s baked goods, which is the most hilarious use of the stereotype that cops love donuts ever. SORRY, I CAN’T UNSEE IT. That’s basically what Mattes does here, isn’t it? Well, he also uses his charm to try and get information from Deidry, though she’s no help. However, I can definitely see how Pierce has set up another conflict for Beka. Earlier, Beka was frustrated by Pounce (WHO HAS TO BE FAITHFUL), her magical cat, for being precisely like every cat I have ever owned. Oh my god, bless his heart FOREVER. But her purple-eyed cat is only part of her challenge. Given her magical Gift and its strangeness, I imagine that Beka is eventually going to have to tell them about how she can hear the voices of the dead. I mean, that could help her solve a case, right? RIGHT? It totally would. It’s not like Tunstall or Goodwin are Gift bigots or anything. If you live in Corus, I don’t think you could just hate all magic forever. But Beka has a lot to work against here. Goodwin is not particularly excited about having her around, and I could see how the truth about her Gift might just add more conflict.


Video 1

Video 2

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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1 Response to Mark Reads ‘Terrier’: Part 2

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