In the third part of Terrier, Beka visits old friends for information and is tested in her fighting skills for the first time. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Terrier.
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.
Y’all, there’s already so much interesting stuff at work here, and I’ve barely started this book. This whopper is 563 pages long! Once I saw that they were journal entries, I kinda wondered why I wasn’t just doing one journal entry for a chapter, and then I’m given a 50-page entry just for one day, and this makes a lot more sense. Beka has a first day that is action-packed and difficult, to say the least, and it’s also evident that she isn’t going to be able to hide her own secrets from her trainers for much longer. She’s tested multiple times in this part of her journal, and initially, it’s at Crookshank’s house.
It’s through this that we get a much better chance to see the precarious relationship that Dogs have with the rest of the populace. We know from previous contextual information that Puppies are often met with a combination of derision and humor, depending on who it is that interacts with them. For Beka, though, she’s thrust into a case where she has to interact with old family friends, and it’s so awkward. Is she their friend? Or will she be perceived as nothing more than a dog? Mistess Annis jokes that Beka might start “tattling on old friends,” but I imagine that must be a genuine concern for her to have. There’d never been an inside source for the Lofts family, and Annis has no idea if Beka will be compelled to share everything she knows about the Lofts and her experiences with them. At the same time, Annis recognizes that Beka was a close friend to Tansy, and she invites Beka to attempt to comfort her and motivate her to get out of bed and eat. The exact same dynamic pops up again here. How should Tansy view her friend now that Beka is wearing Puppy garb? Is she there to help her or is she there to do a job? Plus, we finally get confirmation that Crookshank himself is universally awful to everyone around him, so Beka has to be careful so that she doesn’t enrage him as well. He might lash out at those around them, like Annis and Tansy.
So Beka tosses a pitcherful of water on Tansy.
That takes guts, y’all, but I also think it demonstrated to Tansy that Beka wasn’t there entirely because of her new job. Still, it’s a fine line between the two of them. Beka succeeds in getting Tansy to eat again while urging Tansy to mourn Rolond properly, but she eventually does have to talk to Tansy about what she has to do. Tansy is no fool; she recognizes the risk that Beka has put herself in just by dressing up as a Dog in the Lower City. But when Tansy hands over a strange stone that she is convinced is responsible for the bad luck that has come to her life, Beka misjudges the role she should play for her friend:
I put the stone in my pocket. “Tansy, can you think of anyone fool enough to try this way to attack Crookshank? Or why?”
Her eyes flashed. “Go away, Beka. You talk like a Dog. Just take that bad luck rock with you.”
In an instant, Beka feels misguided, and it’s physically represented in the awkward hug they share after this, which Tansy pulls away from at first. Seriously, I love that Tamora Pierce has wasted no time in showing us just what a challenge this is going to be for Beka. But this isn’t the only thing she’s managed to put into this first day on the job for Beka. Immediately after this, Beka has to deal with the fact that didn’t tell her training partners that she knew Annis and Tansy, and then her physical skills are tested, and then her skills of observation are tested, and throughout all of this, her persistent shyness is a constant threat. This all conveys how difficult of an experience this is going to be, but it’s done in a way that’s so dissimilar to the challenges that previous characters (Alanna, Daine, Kel, or Aly) ever faced. So much of this is divorced from the royal family and business, though, so that’s why I’m already very interested to see where this is going to go.
Anyway, Beka experiences her first bit of action during this shift, and it was very exciting! As Tunstall had described earlier, a lot of what he and Goodwin do is simply wander. They go where they think trouble might break out, or they react to their surroundings. Here, a brawl between the Parks brothers and three boys from the country is what draws the Dogs to a specific part of the Nightmarket. It’s clear that the Dogs are meant to bring order somewhat. I mean, Goodwin has that brief line where she jokes that she could have made money off the fight until they damaged a seller’s stall, so this is again an instance where they have to discern whether to get involved at all. Is breaking up a fight worth it? Only when it gets dangerous, like it does here.
Beka, however, finally gets to prove herself. To a point, that is. I love that she uses her newness to catch the incoming country lad with her baton, saving Tunstall and Goodwin from a possible knife attack in the process. It’s a great chance for her to actually demonstrate how her training worked, but Goodwin is quick to remind Beka that while her work was good, it’s not always going to be this easy:
“You think you’re their gold girl now, Cooper?” she asked, speaking for my ears alone. “Wait till you have to take in someone they love, someone popular. One of the ones with the easy smile and the charming way about them. You’ll learn fast enough whose side they’re on.”
She’s right. Beka has to remember that by virtue of becoming a Dog, people will eventually become biased against her. It’s going to be a complicated journey for her, and that’s of course compounded by her shyness. We see more of that in the final scene here at the Mantel and Pullet, where Beka joins Tunstall and Goodwin for a late dinner. The three of them observe a new man in town, one who cleverly defends Beka from the angry rant of the bartender, and NEW SUBPLOT INTRODUCED. Well, Pierce had hinted at the complications surrounding the current Rogue in Corus, but now it’s spelled out:
“All the city knows that Kayfer Deerborn is a joke as a Rogue. The carrion crows and the hopefuls are coming to town. It’s to be expected.”
I would not be surprised if this causes a great deal of chaos around the city, you know? Assassination attempts, more thieving, disorganization, brawls… that sort of thing. The Rogue is a coveted position, and it’s only a matter of time before Kayfer and is despotic rule is overthrown. But how is that going to interfere or contribute to Beka’s growth? Does it have anything to do with the murder of Rolond? Obviously, I HAVE NO CLUE WHATSOEVER. And then Pierce reveals that the stone Tansy gave Beka is weird as hell, something that not ever Otterkin, the most Gifted of the Dogs, has ever seen. So what is that thing???
Unfortunately, after what seemed like a pretty good first day, Beka’s journal entry ends in despair. Something happened. SOMETHING THAT WIPED OUT ALL HER CERTAINTY AND JOY. Oh god, what is it??? I’m scared. 🙁
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