In the fifth part of Terrier, Beka has her first interaction with the Rogue and POSSIBLE NEW FRIENDS. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Terrier.
I’m still super eager to learn more and more about how this world operates, despite that it is familiar. This isn’t the first Tortall book I’ve read, and it’s certainly not the first one set in Corus. And I know I’m repeating myself here, but Terrier feels nothing at all like the previous books. It’s grimy. It’s violent. It’s steeped in themes of survival and brutality. AND I’M BARELY A HUNDRED PAGES INTO IT. We start off here with Tunstall, Goodwin, and Beka heading to the Court of the Rogue to collect Happy Bags, which is the way that business essentially pay a “tax” so that the Dogs will watch over their place. Pierce does a fantastic job explaining why anyone would ever give a glorified bribe to the police force in the Lower City and why it benefits people who are openly breaking the law to decide which laws to break. Just in terms of the moral content, this book is a lot more varied and flexible than the ones in the past. Again, we’re dealing with issues of survival here; there aren’t the same issues of power and privilege at work that we’ve gotten in the other books. Which isn’t to say they’re not here; the Rogue clearly has tons of power, but it’s in a different context than one that’s purely steeped in money and political power.
But I’ll get to the Rogue in a bit because he was definitely not what I expected. But neither was the Court! I realized I had to stop expecting any sort of similarity to George’s Court about ten pages into this because… well, I always felt like George as the Rogue was like the head of a family. There was a camaraderie to all the scenes where Alanna visited him, but I didn’t get that sense at all when meeting Kayfer. This could be due to the limited scope of the book, though. Beka is clearly an outsider in every sense here, and you can see that just prior to her entering the Court. There’s that scene where she speaks Cesspool cant and shocks a group of kids who swarm around her. I really feel like this is a perfect manifestation of how Beka now straddles the line between two worlds but doesn’t actually fit in with either one. So it’s entirely possible that this is why the Rogue’s Court read the way it did for me. Beka doesn’t fit in there either, and you can tell she feels that way.
Still, it’s not like Alanna was IMMEDIATELY PROPOSITIONED FOR SEX upon walking in the Court. This thing felt like a lowkey Hunger Games to me. everyone was vying for attention, fighting to bribe the right person, and avoiding their possible death at the hands of any number of sketchy people who hang around the court. There’s just so many people about in this place! And the Court is a necessary part of business for most of the citizen of the Lower City, you know? They run into Mistress Noll, who’s hoping to get some better (and maggot-less) flour, and… shit, the merchants and business folk have to go through Kayfer for this stuff? But it seems like this is the cost of living in a part of Corus that Kayfer controls.
Now, Kayfer Deerborn. I just expected someone so much scummier than what we got, especially since I’d heard of how despised he was by most people. So yeah, him being kind of charming? I DID NOT EXPECT THAT. I don’t like him, mind you, but I couldn’t ignore how smooth he was throughout this chapter.
However, it’s hard to like Kayfer when he’s officially introduced in the same chapter as ROSTO, KORA, AND ANIKI. Oh my god, PLEASE LET THEM SHOW UP SOON. These three… kids? They’re so young, aren’t they? They traveled to Corus from Scanra to find entertainment, a better life, and some money while they’re at it. They’r talented, funny, and remarkably kind, particularly for people who are in the Court. Well, that’s not exactly true, since Beka has to prove herself to Rosto at one point (WHICH IS AN AWESOME SCENE).
BUT LET’S TALK ABOUT CROOKSHANK AND SNAKES. Okay, why exactly is Crookshank so certain that Kayfer was behind the murder of his grandson? The two have a history, but surely Crookshank knew what a risky thing it was to openly accuse the Rogue of murder in his Court. Which makes me think that he was confident he had the right man. But even more complexing was this part:
“Your Shadow Snake murdered my Rolond, when he was not in our business!”
Kayfer (and others) go on to say that the Shadow Snake is nothing more than a myth. Which… y’all, there’s magic in your world and a Divine Realms, and surely your skepticism is misplaced. But what exactly is the Shadow Snake? How literal are we talking here? And what did Kayfer have done to Crookshank after CROOKSHANK PULLED A KNIFE OUT ON HIM?
Since Rosto stopped Crookshank from harming the Rogue, I’m going to interpret this as a guarantee that he and his friends will show up again, since Kayfer offers them jobs. (Which he then follows up with a casual reveal that he’ll either kill his gate guards or let them live after he’s chopped off some part of their body and thrown them out on the street. Holy shit, what the fuck?) At the very least, I think Rosto will need to know what was in that pouch that Beka expertly stole from him.
CAN WE ALSO ACKNOWLEDGE HOW GOODWIN ESSENTIALLY SEES EVERYTHING AT ALL TIMES? I’m going to start imagining that she looks like Rosa Diaz from Brooklyn Nine-Nine because it fits so perfectly I can’t see anything else. She knew that Beka was nervous about carrying the Happy Bags through town, and I’m not even sure Goodwin looked at her in order to figure this out. UGH, SHE’S MY FAVORITE SO FAR.
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