Mark Reads ‘Terrier’: Part 7

In the seventh part of Terrier, Beka grows closer to Tunstall through honesty, and the two discover what the mysterious stones they have actually are. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Terrier.

Friday, April 3, 246

Oh my god, SO MUCH JUST HAPPENED. This whole segment tracks Beka’s continued growth as a Puppy and with Tunstall, and it’s fascinating to get an even deeper look at the different parts of the city. LET’S TALK ABOUT THIS.

Sympathy and Rosto

Despite that it’s certainly not pleasant to be pelted with rotten vegetables, Beka is quick to sympathize with Orva’s children, who are furious that she arrested their mother. (They threw the entire cabbage head, NOT A SINGLE LEAF. Oh my god, I am now permanently on record as expressing shock that the entire head of cabbage was thrown. A single leaf, Mark??? A single leaf? That would be like trying to throw a letter dramatically into the ocean.) It shows a willingness on Beka’s part to understand the role she plays, where she comes from, and how her actions will affect others, even if she is doing something that’s perfectly moral. She does her best to explain to these kids why their mother is gone, and she does so in a way that isn’t condescending and rude. Looking back on the whole chapter, I now realize that she’s purposely contrasted with Berryman, who looks upon the whole of the Cesspool as… well, nothing more than its namesake. I think this is really fantastic in terms of thinking of Beka’s character because she’s intentionally aware of where she came from and how the power she wields can negatively impact the very people she’s trying to protect. Basically, I’m impressed.

Then, Rosto shows up perfectly on time because he’s Rosto. And I think Beka is right to suspect that he was following her. Anyway, he arrives to shoo the children away, offer Beka a very helpful cleaning charm that Kora made, and then immediately off her more money for the knowledge of what was in the pouch he stole. Very smooth, Rosto! It’s almost like you cared about Beka for a whole minute! I’M JESTING. I did find it humorous that he didn’t take long to get to the point. Bless Beka, then, for getting TWO SILVER out of him instead of one and a half. I imagine Goodwin will be proud of her for this.

Dust Spinners

Hey, I finally understand this! I was definitely very confused about this earlier in the book, but it makes sense. Beka’s Gift revolves around storytelling, doesn’t it? She can hear gossip and stories from the pigeons and the spinners about the town, and while it’s used for information in her case, I still love that it centers on listening to other people. Plus, Tamora Pierce twists the local lore to reveal that they’re not actually bad spirits like most other people think they are; they’re simply burdened by what they carry within them. Again, this all paints Beka as extremely sympathetic. It can actually be painful for her to stand in the spinners to hear what they’ve collected, and that’s certainly the case here. SINCE SHE HEARS ABOUT A MASS MURDER COMMITTED IN SECRET BY A COUPLE OF GUARDS AND A MAGE. WHAT THE FUCK, Y’ALL. I ALREADY HAD TWO MYSTERIES TO DEAL WITH, AND NOW THIS?

But y’all, I love what Pierce does with this. Given that Beka is so shy, I expected her to drag this out. How was Beka going to subtly tell her superiors to investigate a crime without revealing her Gift? Instead, though, it’s only a few pages before Tunstall admits that HE FOLLOWED BEKA AND WATCHED HER ENTER A SPINNER. So this turns into a chance for her to talk openly and honestly with Tunstall, to admit what it was she heard, and to get him to think about the possibility that a group of people was murdered. I love that he doesn’t really pressure her, either:

“Tell me when you invent a good lie, Cooper.” His voice was kind. “Or if you respect me, the truth. The truth is better if it’s something me and Goodwin ought to know. Elsewise, keep it to yourself. We all have our odd habits. I have a little garden I keep in windown boxes in my rooms.”

Oh god, garden reveal aside, this is SO WONDERFUL. And I think that Tunstall is aware that this isn’t easy for Beka, so he eases her into. Because of it, she’s more comfortable telling him the truth! Though I do love that she privately admits that while Tunstall claims that magic is “chancy” at best, she knows a lot more about her Gift than he does. I think she’ll hold on to that until it’s necessary to tell him.

Master Jungen Berryman

I’m also glad that Pierce hasn’t left me in the dark regarding those weird stones Beka lifted off of Rosto. (Because clearly all narratives must revolve around my own desire!) However, in revealing what the stones are, I’m still completely confused. They don’t point me in the right direction at all! But lord, I adore how the scene is written especially since Pierce is quick to drop us right into dread as Berryman examines the stones. He is so terrified of them that he shakes and doesn’t speak for a long while. Oh god, what are they??? WHY ARE YOU SO AFRAID?

Berryman, after a long period that involved me feeling freaked out every second, reveals that they have tiny fire opals. Raw ones. They’re so rare that there are only a few mines where you can find them, and uncracked fire opals are worth a FORTUNE. (I noticed you counting on your fingers, Tunstall. I NOTICED THAT.) But Berryman knew these stones were being sold by some secretive seller in a huge auction in Corus in July, so… I don’t get it. What do they mean? How are they connected to these deaths?

“All opals are powerful magical stones. Fire opals are fascinators – bewitchers. Properly enchanted – which these aren’t, you’ll be glad to know – they’ll take and hold the attention of anyone the mage shows them to. They leave people open to suggestion from the mage or the person he works for.”

WELL, THAT’S REALLY FUCKING CREEPY. But given that there’s really one one mage that might have to do with all of this – the female mage from the spinners – I still don’t get what’s going on. Which is unfair. AND I CAN ALREADY HEAR ALL THE ROT13 CACKLING GOING ON, DAMN IT.

I’m happy that Pierce then portrays Berryman’s sexist and classist drivel about expertise so negatively because… ugh, THAT IS ONE OF THE WORST THINGS EVER. Have y’all ever gotten into an argument with an academic who’s studying something you lived? Oh my god, so quick story. I used to volunteer for the campus LGBT group at Cal State Long Beach and would attend panels for Human Sexuality or Queer Studies classes, wherein I would basically be asked invasive and personal questions for an hour. I actually enjoyed them a great deal because they helped form my own understanding of my queerness, particularly how my sexuality became dissected in an academic setting. Anyway, I can’t even tell you how many times I’d get into it in a fierce back-and-forth between a straight student studying human sexuality whenever my answers didn’t fit what he’d “studied.” IT’S SO INFURIATING. (The same thing goes for critical race theory, and good god, few things are more awful than arguing with a white student studying anti-racism. THAT’S SOME SHIT, LET ME TELL YOU.)

At the heart of this all is the idea that because lived experience is not studied, it’s not valued. It doesn’t matter that Beka has lived her entire life in the Lower City. She wasn’t educated. Oh, Beka, just punch him in the face. Maybe Pounce was off shitting in his desk or something. I don’t care, I DON’T LIKE HIM AT ALL. And I don’t think it’s hard to imagine that he also saw a small young girl, and thought it was even more offensive to him that she spoke up with any sort of authority. GAH, SHUT UP. I’m glad the text effectively calls him a manchild, because that’s what he is.

Video 1

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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