In the third part of Bloodhound, HOW IS ALL OF THIS HAPPENING ALREADY? If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to read Bloodhound.
SWEET ANTHONY MACKIE, THIS IS TOO MUCH.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of mobs/riots and slavery.
You know, since a lot of this series has addressed the difficulty Beka faced in the past in navigating her own loyalties to her friends, the Lower City, and the Dogs, then it makes sense she’d eventually have to deal with having to be a Dog to one of her own family members. It was kind of inevitable, no? And lord, this is so awkward! I suppose that Beka could have been nicer to her cousin Phil, but I agree with Beka’s assessment after the ordeal is over: How else could she have done this? How else was she supposed to get the information needed from Phil without him trying to dodge his way out of it? To me, this whole section read like Beka asserting her authority and the seriousness of the situation. This wasn’t a time to cut a cousin some slack; it was time to get information!
Still, there’s no denying that this is uncomfortable throughout. Phil makes reference to growing up with Beka and her being a “cruel, suspicious mot,” which certainly doesn’t help any of this. And as far as I could tell, Phil may have actually told the truth anyway, since he wasn’t the one responsible for spreading the coles. He got paid in them from some gamblers on a boat from Port Caynn. This is the first of numerous mentions of coles connected to folk from Port Caynn, and I’m certain this is a huge clue. MAYBE THAT’S WHERE THE COUNTERFEIT RING IS. And after Slapper beats the hell out of Phil and Beka, we get a name: the Merry Molly. OH SHIT, GO GO GO GO.
Except Beka can’t. She’s got a lot more to do before she and her partners can pursue the Merry Molly, and that includes interrogating the next person named by Garnett: Otho Urtiz. Somehow, this scene is EVEN MORE AWKWARD THAN THE LAST ONE. A slave named Ashmari answers the door before Otho can get to it, and Beka seems particularly cruel about describing how ugly she is??? It was kind of disconcerting to me because she went out of the way to not only convey her ugliness to us, but to even call her womanhood into question because she was so ugly. Like???? Come on, Beka, knock that off.
Anyway, Urtiz is extremely forthright about the coles he received from betting on horses FROM A MAN FROM PORT CAYNN OH MY GOD A PATTERN. He then outright admits that he used eight of the silver coles to purchase Ashmari from the slavers, and here’s where things get complicated. He bought Ashmari to save her from the mines, and as far as I understood of this, he actually didn’t want her as a slave himself. Now, Beka is quick to point out that it’s highly illegal for Urtiz to purchase a slave for fake coin, despite that internally, Beka’s pleased that he cheated the slavers. Not a split second after Beka says this does Ashmari brutally attack Urtiz, though Beka’s training gives her the upper hand over Ashmari’s size. Initially, I assumed that Urtiz had made some sort of secret signal to urge Ashmari to attack Beka, but then????
“I’ll give you five gold nobles. Let me free her, let her escape, before you hobble me,” Urtiz said, with sweat on his brow. “Guardswoman, I swear, the coin is right here. Only let me free her, and I’ll go with you quietly. She was trying to protect me! Not just five nobles – I have jewels. Let me buy Ashmari’s freedom and you can have the rest. It’s enough for you to retire on.”
WHAT THE HELL???? Not only does he try to bribe Beka with a fortune, but he’s completely content to let Beka arrest him anyway. Understandably, Beka’s flabbergasted by the display because who does something like this? You know, she’s so used to slavery being a part of this culture that the idea of someone who would want to free them at great expense to themselves is completely unfathomable.
She rejects the bribe and doesn’t hobble anyone. All she wants is the name of the man who gave Urtiz the silver coles. (I shouldn’t also ignore that Beka doesn’t want to get herself tangled in the complications around slaver law.) And she gets it: Hanse Remy.
HANSE. I’M STILL FREAKING OUT OVER THIS, IS THAT A COINCIDENCE. I have to go over the description of Hanse from the riot, y’all, because is it the same as the one Urtiz gave???
I actually love that Pierce gives us a glimpse of what happened the rest of Beka’s Saturday, since we’re left to wonder why Beka is so weary and sore that she can’t even spell correctly. All we know is that Beka is in extreme pain, she left Achoo tied up all night (implying that she was out later than she expected to be), and that she was too exhausted to even think about writing about what had happened.
Y’all. Y’ALL. THIS WAS TOO MUCH! Oh my god, it’s like Pierce believed the riot at the end of the last book was too tame or something, because this is terrifying. It’s written with a frantic urgency, and it’s yet another reminder that Tamora Pierce is SO GODDAMN GOOD at writing action sequences. Like the end of the last book, too, the weather plays a huge part in setting the scene, except here, the oppressive heat adds to the claustrophobic atmosphere. Not only that, but the Dogs are nervous about the days patrol. They’ve got to worry about rotting rye stores AND that evening’s market AND people’s tempers being on the short end due to the heat AND more silver coles appearing and I’M EXHAUSTED JUST THINKING OF ALL THIS. Of course, I also know how all of these concerns pale in comparison to what actually takes place here LITERALLY MINUTES AFTER THEY LEAVE THE KENNEL. Right?
We’d just ambled a couple of blocks down Jane Street when Tunstall halted and put a hand to his ear.
A couple of blocks. Oh my god, I feel so bad for them. A COUPLE BLOCKS WORTH OF TIME BEFORE UTTER CHAOS BROKE OUT.
And shit, y’all, is there a better word than “chaos” to describe what transpires in these pages? Bless Tamora Pierce for being able to convey something like this so well, and I’m not ashamed to shower praise all over this. And honestly, it’s just plain scary. Even more so than the mob that rioted over the dead discovered in Crookshank’s properties, this mob is rightly described as a singular beast. What’s so frightening about that is that Goodwin, Tunstall, and Beka have to somehow single out individual participants and slow the mob down, and the very idea of that is intimidating and overwhelming to me. Of course, to add to matters, the mob is rioting over something that Beka admits is incredibly upsetting: the cost of day-old bread at Two For One has doubled, which hits the poor harder than anyone else. Is this connected to the bad rye or is it due to the presence of coles in the city’s money supply? I imagine that it’s the latter, but there’s really no space to analyze this here in the narrative, since Pierce drops us in the moment and keeps us there. (That’s also why I suspect that Beka doesn’t freak the fuck out over the revelation of Hanse’s name; I think she’s justifiably distracted by everything being UTTER HELL.)
Yet even if Beka understands why it’s so horrible for prices to be raised, she has a job to do, and she and her Dogs immediately get to it. It’s honestly slow going (the act, not the text, which moves at a lightning speed) because… shit, there are so many people! All of them are hot, upset, desperate for some release of their own fury, and taking it out on the people who they assume are on the wrong side. Mixed in with them are rushers taking advantage of the riot to be violent and criminal for the sake of it. And then there are the citizens stuck in the roiling mass of people who want nothing to do with the riot, but who must be plucked out of the chaos before anything terrible happens to them.
Beka saves a child from being kidnapped by a child stealer. She’s stuck in the mass of bodies at one point that she can’t even plant her feet on the ground. (Which reminded me of some of the more brutal concerts I’d been to where the same thing had happened to me. It’s a scary feeling, just as Beka describes it, because you really do have no control over where your body goes.) And throughout it all, she’s got a job to do, and by gods, she does it. HOW? I don’t know, y’all, but that’s why she went through training. She learned how to manage crowds, how to use her baton and her body to deflect attacks and to get folk to do what she needed them to do. Still, there’s only so much training can provide a person because a mob as big and vicious as this one is completely unpredictable. Like, how do you train for a mob WHO BREAKS THROUGH WOODEN STALLS AND DESTROYS THEM?
Out of literally nowhere comes Dale, one of two men who prove integral to Beka’s attempts save people from the mob. He and Hanse – WHOSE INITIAL DESCRIPTION DOES NOTHING TO ALLAY MY SUSPICION THAT HE IS THE SAME HANSE WHO URTIZ NAMED – help shuttle folks into the Jack and Pasty as quickly as possible. Beka returns to the mess of people to find Tunstall, which was initially comforting because he was clearly still okay and then FOUNTAINS START EXPLODING. OKAY WHAT. In theory, the idea of riot founts is brilliant, but I love that Pierce utilized them here and then admitted that they just cooled everyone off. Water has been used for crowd control measures in our modern world (usually not anything like it is here, of course), but all this does is shower everyone with cold river water. WHOOPS.
Y’all, I thought Tunstall’s roar was meant to be victorious or something. oh. oh gods I was so wrong.
Both of Tunstall’s legs were stretched out before him, and not properly. They bent in directions straight legs are not supposed to.
OH NO NO NO NO NOPE! HOLY SHIT, THAT IS SO AWFUL AND PIERCE PROCEEDS TO CONTINUALLY MAKE IT WORSE. I mean, look, Hanse is wonderful and helps Goodwin and Beka get Tunstall to the Jack and Pasty right before THE MOST RIDICULOUS THING YET, but two broken legs? Oh, not just broken, but broken in FIVE PLACES COLLECTIVELY. That’s so serious and scary because what if they caused internal bleeding? THIS COULD GET SO MUCH WORSE FOR TUNSTALL. And then Beka writes this:
Truth to tell, I hated to see old Tunstall all ashy and broken like that. It made the world seem cracked, like it might fall to pieces any moment.
YEAH, NOPE. TAKE THIS BACK. PLEASE TAKE IT BACK FOREVER.
But holy shit, there’s nothing in the UNIVERSE that could have prepared me for what follows this. The idea of the air booming is frightening enough, but then we find out that the mages who were blowing up the riot founts ARE LITERALLY FREEZING THE ENTIRE MARKET. I’m at a point in these Tortall books to understand what an extreme use of power this requires, and I’m still in awe. JUST WHAT THE… WHAT THE HELL? THIS IMAGE IS SO HAUNTING:
I raised my hand through a breeze that had the weight of thick honey. The brawlers a couple of yards away moved slower and slower. Steen dragged me inside before we were entirely caught in the spell.
I can’t. THIS IS SO SURREAL TO ME. Because of this spell, everyone is stuck in the Jack and Pasty until the spell wears off and the King’s soldiers come to let them out. Meanwhile, Tunstall is gravely injured and the healer present can’t really do much for him because HE IS RESISTANT TO HEALING BECAUSE OF BEING HEALED SO MUCH. Okay, once I find out that Tunstall is okay, I’ll laugh more at this, but for the moment, this is overwhelming.
Oh, and Dale and Hanse are from Port Caynn. COME ON. COME ON THIS HAS TO BE SOMETHING.
First of all, FEW THINGS ARE MORE WONDERFUL THAN DOGS SLEEPING IN YOUR BED. I’m biased, of course, because I’m not currently suffering through a heat save in a tiny bed, but gods, DOGGIES ON THE BED. ALL THE TIME. EVERY TIME. But I get that Beka, exhausted and horribly sore from the literal beatings she suffered, just wants to sleep in peace. But Achoo is now part of her life, and her healing is going to have to be a priority for Beka. It’s not just her physical healing, either! Achoo must be desperate for any sort of affection after spending time with Hempstead (HATE HIM, HOPE KORA MAKES THE EARTH EAT HIM), and so Beka’s got to be careful with Achoo.
Look, I automatically have a ton of feelings for any and all dogs. Oh god, let’s imagine how Achoo and Jump would be best friends. ENJOY THAT THOUGHT BECAUSE IT’S BEAUTIFUL.
I think Beka’s dream about the burning man hints at another fear of hers, exacerbated by the riot: she’s afraid of not being able to save the ones she cares about. (Which reminds me of Kel! Oh god, KEL, I miss reading about her.) Of course, Beka is also living separate from her siblings, so I wonder if those anxieties play into her dream, too. Does she worry that she can’t protect them since she’s not around? Does she fret about gaining their respect? I’ll be interested to see if the dream returns again and what might trigger it the next time.
The original text contains use of the word “mad” and “crazed.”
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