Mark Reads ‘Terrier’: Part 4

In the fourth part of Terrier, Beka is awash in shame after making a rookie mistake, but Goodwin and Tunstall start to grow to like her. 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.

Thursday, April 2, 246

Oh, Beka. OH, BEKA. I wondered what could possibly be so horrible that she’d be so miserable about how her day ended, and lord. Her mistake here – in forgetting that thieves and pickpockets often have lookouts to help them – isn’t exactly the worst one in the world. She was eager to prove her worth to her training partners, and so she took off after the thief without much thought. As I said in the intro, it’s a rookie mistake. It’s her first time chasing down a perp, and so she doesn’t take in her surroundings. She pays for this mistake by landing in a pile of rotting fish remains, thus earning a new nickname: Fishpuppy.

It really is disheartening for her, especially given that this happens on her first day. Oh god, her pride is resolutely shattered, and she accurately predicted that no one would let her live this down. I admit that I found it super amusing to see how many people (EVEN HER LANDLORD) were determined to remind her of her mishap. I understood why she was upset, but once Ahuda came into play, it felt less cruel and more like a part of the culture of the Dogs and the Lower City. I’ve also got a better sense of how the Dogs are integrated into the fabric of the Lower City because of this, too. There’s not outright hatred of the Provost Guard, nor is there implicit trust. It’s more of a fluid sense of need contrasted with an acceptance that the Dogs are here to say, and it all depends on the context, too.

Regardless, Beka mostly sticks to her own world before she has to face the Dogs after her fish disaster. I was glad to find out that she had so much time to herself prior to combat training. That means we get that beautiful passage where Beka talks about the vibrance in the Lower City, and as someone who has lived in many poorer neighborhoods in big cities, I CAN CONFIRM ALL OF THE GREAT THINGS BEKA TALKS ABOUT. Oh my god, I am so thrilled about the setting of this book. Plus, I like that I get to see Beka on her own! I mean, aside from brief moments where Beka learned just how quickly her fish pile fall got around town, she actually gets to do a bit of investigating. In this case, she LISTENS TO THE SPIRITS OF PEOPLE WHO HAVEN’T PASSED ON TO THE PEACEFUL REALMS. You know, I adore how matter-of-fact this is in the book. It’s not like magic and supernatural elements are new to the Tortall books, but it feels so beautifully seamless when Pierce transitions from talk of poverty, the joys of living in the Lower City, and Beka’s own expectations of herself right to Beka listening to the souls of dead people. 

And I have no problem admitting that what Beka hears is actually quite disturbing. For real, Pierce forces us to read between the lines to figure out what some of these souls are referring to. I think the first ghost was caught cheating and was probably murdered; the second one died from a POORLY SECURED LOAD. The third was killed after confronting their significant other’s possible connection to slavery. And then Beka might have heard Rolond himself, since one of the ghosts speaks of being tricked by the promise of a parrot, and it’s clearly a kid, and IT’S SO GODDAMN AWFUL. And two other kids might have been kidnapped with him??? Look, Tamora Pierce, all the stuff with murdered children souls in Protector of the Small was already not okay, BUT NOW WE’RE DEALING WITH KIDNAPPED AND MURDERED CHILDREN AGAIN AND WOW. IT HURTS.

Anyway, there’s no further development of this specific plot in the rest of this section, though that weird stone might prove to be connected to Crookshank, too. More on that at the end of this review! Let’s talk about Ahuda, who defends Beka against the teasing she gets in the most wonderful way. Note that she’s not condescending or patronizing about how she shows the others that they shouldn’t pick on Beka for merely being surprised by something. She also doesn’t leave Beka out of her brutal and fierce attacks, and I really think it’s lovely. Ersken is also lovely, but I’m terrified of getting even remotely attached to him. THIS IS A DANGEROUS GAME WE ARE PLAYING HERE, OKAY. I feel a little more comfortable growing close to Tunstall and Goodwin because they serve a necessary purpose in the narrative: they’re responsible for training Beka, so I don’t think that Pierce can get rid of them. YET. They are not without risks, but I think they’re safe for now. (I swear, y’all, I just go so nervous TYPING THAT. Oh god, I realize I’m taking a huge risk in even posting that sort of logic publicly. THIS COULD BE A DISASTER.)

I wish Mage Fulk was not so safe because holy shit, what a despicable dude. He’s one of those guys who clearly thinks he is entitled to the bodies of the women around him, and he acts with the knowledge that up to this point, he’s done so with impunity. There are a lot of awful things about him, but the fact that the Dogs have to interact with him is one of the worst. Well, and the way he touches Beka, WHICH IS NOT THE FIRST TIME HE HAS DONE THIS. Oh, and then HIDING HIS KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT THAT STONE IS BECAUSE I’M SURE HE’S ALSO GREEDY AND SELF-SERVING. I’m real excited that Pounce not only recognized what he was doing, but acted so that he’d lose the stone and experience physical pain because of it. Pounce is perfection, and I CAN’T GET OVER HOW IT’S CLEARLY FAITHFUL AND THIS IS NOT OKAY. I’m pretty sure that this is the most unprepared I’ve been for a character introduction, let alone the story that follows.

Anyway, Pounce plays a part in the further acceptance of Beka here, and I’m fairly certain that’s intentional. Prior to his arrival with the stone that Fulk dropped beneath the floorboards, we find out that GOODWIN AND TUNSTALL HAD A BET GOING OVER BEKA. Aside from being endlessly amusing, I think it’s a great way to demonstrate their respective personalities. Goodwin is far more reserved and less trusting than her partner, which is why she bets against Beka realizing Fulk lied and admitting to it. Tunstall, however, is more willing to believe that there’s potential in Beka, that she’s capable of growing, changing, and becoming a better Dog. Of course, once Pounce shows up with stone, they can’t ignore that her cat is special, too. Oh god, y’all have NO IDEA what that cat is capable of. I’M SO EXCITED ABOUT POUNCE.

Video 1

Video 2

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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