Mark Reads ‘Terrier’: Part 14

In the fourteenth part of Terrier, Beka decides to try out a method to organize information she’s collected regarding the Shadow Snake. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Terrier.

Goddamn, it’s just so horrifying to realize the scope of the Shadow Snake, and I think Pierce does an incredible job here pulling back the curtain to show us just how much the Shadow Snake has been ingrained into the Lower City. I mean, until Beka and her fellow Dogs and friends started poking their noses into this, had anyone bothered to ask about victims of the Snake? No, of course not, and that’s precisely what the Snake had depended on for all the years that they’d operated. No one asked anything. No one connected the dots. No one knew the details of what they’d done.

But Beka is doing this. She is wading through the relentlessly disturbing and nausea-inducing information in order to organize it in a way that she understands. Actually, it’s more than just organization for personal preference. I imagine that as she adds more pins and wax to her map, she might be able to see a pattern beyond everyone being poor and in the Lower City. IS THERE A PATTERN? There has to be. But I’m also interested in the method the Snake is using to pull this off because it seems like they are somehow everywhere at every single moment. How is that possible??? I HAVE A LOT OF QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW CREEPY THE SHADOW SNAKE IS.

I’ll get to that in a bit. I really, REALLY want to elaborate on something I began to discuss in the first video reading this section. As I was awed by Beka’s ability to push past her shyness when talking to the unnamed woman who Kora spoke with, I made the comment that Beka seemed to immerse herself in the “role” of a Dog in order to find confidence. I was then unsure if that was really the truth, since Beka’s interest in being a Dog is genuine. She wants that as her career, you know? So does that make it a role for her? Is it something she can perform? In a sense, I think that the two aren’t mutually exclusive, and I think that I’m totally intrigued by the way that Tamora Pierce has created this for Beka. This is not a case of the author forgetting a characteristic written for someone; no, the text openly acknowledges these moments where Beka unknowingly conquers her own shyness.

So what is it about this role that gives her confidence? I think it’s partly due to her own desire to be a Dog more than anything else. She’s placed a lot of pressure on herself, of course, and that could manifest itself this way. But there’s something to be said for Beka finding this certainty whenever she believes she’s doing something good. Maybe she acts this way because her role as a Dog makes her feel like she can better the lives of those who live in the Lower City. We already know that she’s determined to keep those at the bottom of the social ladder in the forefront of her own mind. We know she cares about those forgotten and abused by society at large. So maybe this rush she gets is based on that. It’s exhilarating to her in some sense.

Regardless, it’s all conjecture and theory, but I thought it would be something fascinating to talk about. I mean, come on. She is INCREDIBLE in this section. She’s empathetic with the woman who is terrified to speak the truth, enough to get three names out of her. She comes up with the idea of the map. She finds the courage to confront the woman lying about the Snake’s influence in her life. These events are happening with more and more frequency, and I really do believe it’s a sign of her growth. I love it!

I also want to praise how well this journal format works simply due to the realism of this story. For three whole days’ worth of entries, Beka has a cold. Now, while this is a vital thing to develop the friendships that Beka has fostered in her time as a Puppy, I think it’s also wickedly clever storytelling. It justifies the journal format because I don’t think this would have been even a tiny bit interesting if I hadn’t moved through Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday in the span of five pages. Actually, there’s not even a Monday entry! She just flat-out doesn’t write it, and I’ll be damned if that isn’t a great way to tell the story.

But okay. OKAY. HOW DOES THE SHADOW SNAKE DO WHAT THEY DO? I’m using the gender neutral “they” because I don’t know what gender this person is, and I also don’t know IF IT’S A SINGULAR PERSON. Even then, how can one person do what the Shadow Snake does? We learn that within days of acquiring something of any sort of worth, countless folks are threatened with the death of their child if they don’t give said object to the Snake. How the hell does the Snake know? How does the Snake know that someone got an inheritance? Saved 20 nobles? Owned three fucking Yamani coins? Even worse, this is a person/group who is well aware that the poor have absolutely fucking nothing, and they exploit WHAT LITTLE WEALTH THE POOR GET. Then the Snake murders children for not getting things they want. It’s the most horrifying, disturbing temper tantrum in the history of the universe. Just… how did Tamora Pierce find something more messed up than the end of the Protector of the Small series? BECAUSE GODDAMN IT, THIS RUINS ME.

Of course, I haven’t figured out how any of this is tied together because what fun would that be? None. Gods, I’m so unprepared for the future.

The original text uses the words “mad,” “crazy,” and “idiot.”

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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