Mark Reads ‘Terrier’: Part 15

In the fifteenth part of Terrier, Beka continues to worry about her inability to find a new lead in tracking down the Shadow Snake or finding the diggers’ killer. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Terrier.

I really think that Beka is a whole lot closer to the truth than she realizes, and I say that mostly as a way to comfort my own existential dread over Terrier. Like, I CAN’T FIGURE THIS OUT AT ALL. Is it all real? Am I real? Okay, I’m being ridiculous, but honestly, this might be the most frustratingly-devised mystery in any of the Tamora Pierce novels I’ve read, and it also doesn’t help that it’s so relentlessly disturbing, too.

Beka, bless her heart, is trying so hard to determine what she’s missing, and she does it all while navigating the increasingly difficult politics of her own world of Dogs and Rats. More than ever before, the lines between these two universes are becoming defined. They’re losing their blur. I’d say it was easier for her to be a friend to both Dog and Rat before than it is for her now, especially given what happens with Rosto here.

I’ll get to that in a bit. Initially, Beka has to deal with the reaction her own Dogs have to the reveal that she’s created a map to organize all of the Shadow Snake crimes. Oh, god, I felt for her when Goodwin asked if Beka ever considered that this map might actually offend them. But she does bring up a good point: Beka’s got to build up her own street smarts and be able to judge when doing something behind someone’s back (like this map) might get her in trouble. And really, this actually fits in with one of the larger themes of the novel, doesn’t it? Beka’s journey in Terrier is about learning how to travel through different social groups; it’s certainly the basis of her struggle with the Dogs and the Rats, no? There are many worlds that Beka has to move through now that she’s decided to become a Dog, and I felt like Goodwin was trying to look out for Beka while also imparting the importance of the chain of command. Remember, at the end of this conversation, Goodwin reminds Beka to “gather word only.” She’s got to make sure to trust her superiors with information or it’ll set them at a disadvantage.

That’s also why Goodwin wants to watch Beka enter a dust spinner. But I also saw that as a tacit acceptance of Beka, a way for Goodwin to say, “This is a part of who you are, and I need to accept that this is how you can gain information.” WHICH FILLS ME WITH HAPPINESS, OF COURSE. Pierce also uses this as a way to segue to the following scene, one that demonstrates how complicated things have become in the world of the city’s Rats. Like I said in the first video for this section, the whole thing caused me to reflect on how different George Cooper was as the Rogue in Corus, and then I was overflowing in emotions for Beka because THAT’S HER DESCENDANT and no, I’m okay, I swear.

ANYWAY, ON TOPIC. Hasfush the spinner reveals a recent murder, which leads Beka and her Dogs straight into the Court of the Rogue. I’m so glad I understood some of the social dynamics of the Court by this time, or otherwise I might have been confused about what happened here. But I understood that Kayfer had demonstrated – yet again – that his own monetary interests were more important than that of his… I almost said “subjects.” Shit! The issue here is that even though this man clearly broke the law, the Rogue is historically supposed to look after those who come to seek his help. He helps those forgotten by the law, those ignored by the rest of society, the people who have to bend the rules just to survive. But, as Beka points out, just like he turned away everyone who was a victim of the Shadow Snake, Kayfer turns away this man after ensures a discount in that week’s Happy Bag. He’s so brazen about it, too!

Oh lord, I’m not even prepared for how this book will end, and I know that Kayfer’s behavior and attitude is going to backfire. IT’S JUST GOING TO, I SWEAR.

SO. THE WOMAN AND THE LYING. First of all, holy logic puzzle. It took me a second read-through to understand this, but even then? I can’t figure out how this connects to the story at large. Someone magicked this woman to confess to her crime (which meant she wasn’t a victim of the Shadow Snake), but then also made it so that she was magicked to lie about everything else. Which makes no sense to me at all. Why not compel her to be truthful to everything except the mage’s identity? Regardless, I think I’m comfortable saying that this has to be another clue, but that’s as far as I can go. I DON’T GET IT. WHAT’S HAPPENING.

I was happy to see Annis and Tansy again, though I was disturbed by yet another fire opal showing up. If Herun is getting them from Crookshank, does that mean that Crookshank has already started his next digging project??? I mean, Tansy is so casual about giving Beka another stone, and I’M SO DISTURBED BY THIS. But that’s part of why this mystery is so frustrating. I feel like the answer is within arm’s reach, and yet I’m clearly looking in the wrong places, and there are so many of you cackling at me because it’s right there. On top of this, Beka is so upset by every new name she gets. Every case she learns of is yet another life threatened for shit that’s honestly worthless when compared to a human life. SIX. SILVER. NOBLES. That’s what the Snake wanted from one family, despite that I’m positive the Snakes worth is a billion times more than that. The Snake wants to make miserable people even more miserable, and that makes them irredeemably disgusting to me. I hate the Snake, and I hate that the Snake has chosen the people who are the worst off for targets. And I don’t blame Beka for getting drunk Tuesday night after surrounding herself with all of this.

Amidst this, Beka learns from one of her pigeons that Rosto has killed again. This time, he kills two coves sent to attack him. FROM ULSA. As I mentioned before, this whole section addresses the dichotomous worlds Beka must straddle, and this demonstrates one of the most difficult choices she faces. Does she tell Rosto what she knows to earn his respect and help? Or does she keep it to herself so as not to risk helping a Rat become more of a Rat? And we see later that plenty of Dogs know that Rosto and his folks live in the same building as Beka, which complicates how she’s perceived by other Dogs. It’s not an easy situation all around, and I don’t even know how I’d deal with it. I think Beka is doing the absolute best she can, given what’s happened.

At the very least, though, Beka still respects her own self while dealing with her undeniable attraction to Rosto. She admits to being attracted to him, but she openly rejects his flirting in such an awesome way:

“I’m not your ‘lovey.’ I’m not your doxie. You’re six years older than me, Rosot. There’s mots your age more than willing to be your flirts! And you’ve Aniki and Kora besides.”

I love it that she refuses to risk her friendship with Aniki and Kora because she knows it’s possible that she could pit herself against them by pursuing Rosto. But she also protects herself, too! She doesn’t want to be a toy that Rosto can play with; she doesn’t want to trust a man who might very well turn violent on her. She thinks Rosto can be sweet, but it’s cool that she’s so aware of the dynamics at hand, both in terms of their ages and in the power they each hold.

Still, this section ends on such a grim note. There hasn’t been a new clue in a long time, and Beka worries that they’re too late. How much longer until a new batch of ghosts arrive on the back of her pigeons? I DON’T WANT TO KNOW, Y’ALL. Ugh, I can’t figure this out. STOP TEASING ME, TERRIER. STOP IT.

The original text contains the word “mad.”

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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