Mark Reads ‘Bloodhound’: Part 1

In the first part of Bloodhound, I AM SERIOUSLY NOT READY FOR THIS BOOK. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to start Bloodhound.


I think I have a small idea of what this book might address – the counterfeit coins spoiling life in the Lower City – but even then, I still feel like I’m in the dark. WHICH IS VERY EXCITING. Tamora Pierce opens this book MORE THAN A YEAR AFTER THE EVENTS OF THE LAST ONE. Beka isn’t a Puppy anymore; she’s a full-fledged Dog. WHO HAS ALREADY HAD FOUR PARTNERS. None of whom are Ersken, for the record, because Ahuda clearly isn’t as invested in my sitcom idea as I am. And you know what? I love that this is how Bloodhound opens. It’s such a fascinating start because of where it puts Beka as a characters. She succeeded in her training, she achieved her goal of becoming a Dog, and then she learns that being a Dog isn’t exactly what she expected.

The problem here is that she doesn’t get to choose her partner; they’re assigned based on which senior Dog needs a new partner. Well, that’s part of the reason, and Pierce details why Silsbee, her fourth parter, is so awful. The other reason why she’s having such a difficult experience as a Dog is because Goodwin and Tunstall set the bar so high that no one else can meet it. They were such good teachers for her in part because they were an excellent team. They anticipated each other’s needs. They had their strengths and weaknesses, they knew them, and they complimented them.

Silsbee? He’s nothing like them. He’s lazy, he’s gossipy, he has very little interest in the job except for how it can get him more food and ale, and worst of all, he doesn’t let Beka do her job. It’s infuriating and discouraging to Beka because she’s wanted nothing more than to be a Dog for many years, and now this man is ruining the job for her. Of course, that whole bit where he used her nickname – Terrier – against her was painful, too, since that’s something she had a lot of pride in. And wouldn’t you? Her tenacity was what got the Shadow Snake and digger cases solved!

Still, I didn’t think it was kind of funny that Beka had gone through four partners in five months of being a Dog. Her friends certainly did! I’m glad that the breakfast meetings are continuing, only now they’re at the in-construction Dancing Dove. (I’M FREAKING OUT, OH MY GOD, BEKA. YOUR FAMILY WILL STILL HAVE THIS LOCATION YEARS LATER I CAN’T DO THIS.) One of the things I adored about Terrier was Beka’s willingness to keep her friends together, regardless of what side of the law they were on. And that sort of loyalty is still present here, even if they all poke fun at the fact that Beka is going through partners like Tunstall goes through Mistress Noll’s pastries. (SOB SOB SOB.) Actually, can we acknowledge what happened to the last three partners???

1) Died of the red flux.


3) Threatened to chop the hands off him for sexually assaulting her.

Which certainly speaks a lot of what these assholes did more than it does of Beka. But truthfully, Beka has high standards for herself and the job, and it’s why I admire her so much. Again, it goes back to her experience with Tunstall and Goodwin. I don’t doubt that she’d want to be the best Dog possible even if she hadn’t trained with them, but they had an undeniable influence on her development!

Anyway, I think I’m comfortable claiming that the story Tansy introduces in Bloodhound is what this book is going to focus on. After spending the last year disavowing the family name from all of the crooked business that Crookshank owned, Tansy has tried to build up a good reputation for herself and her family. And while this development does happen off the page, I am also satisfied that Pierce jumped ahead in time and began Bloodhound here. She provides a lot of exposition for the framing of the book in this first section, but it just works for me. I’m already engaged and excited to see what happens next! And this is also a very fascinating way to examine how counterfeiting negatively impacts an economy. At the moment, it hasn’t spread down to those who are the poorest in the Lower City, but the very existence of these silver coles certainly threatens Tansy’s well-being and the Rogue’s. The devaluing of coin is a big deal, and it could have horrible ramifications for Corus.

It’s not going to be easy to track down the counterfeiters. I wondered whether or not Beka would find out about more about the coles from the birds or Hasfush, but all she hears is about someone else who got six coles while gambling. So the coles aren’t that widespread – at least not yet. And really, it was only in hindsight that I realized that as Beka went out to gather more information from the spinners and her pigeons that this is what Beka does when she needs to get away from other issues in her life. I’ve spoken about her dependence on her friends, which is important, but she finds a comfort in gathering information. Her feelings were hurt after her friends made fun of her for losing yet another Dog as a partner, so she goes out to “talk” to the creatures and beings who don’t ever judge her for who she is. They’re actually pretty lonely scenes, aren’t they? Sure, Beka’s shy, but not always so when she’s around people she knows and cares about. But she’s often a loner, and I think it’s neat that Pierce has created a character like this.

Anyway, with a lead about a possible rye poisoning to give to Ahuda, Beka ends up accompanying Tansy back to her home to help her test her coins for more counterfeits. SHE IS SUCH A GREAT FRIEND, OKAY. But the scene also adds the necessary emotional tension to help us understand why these counterfeit coins were such a huge deal. What if two fifths of all the money Tansy had gotten honestly turned out to be fake? How much would it ruin her carefully built reputation if others found out about the fake coins? Surely, the rest of the Lower City would assume that she’d become just like her father, even if that wasn’t the case. Of course, we can’t ignore that Tansy fears returning to her origins more than anything else. That’s something we knew from the last book, too, but now, the problem is exacerbated more than ever. She never wants to be poor ever again, and the counterfeit coins terrify her.

And then we’ve got Beka’s feelings for Rosto spread throughout this section. She’s incredibly attracted to him, but in service to her better judgment, she stays away from him. She knows that there are only bad things down that path, and now I’m imagining how much Beka would love “I Knew You Were Trouble” by Taylor Swift. Wow. It’s perfect.

The original text contains the words “mad” and “cracked.”

Video 1

Video 2

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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