In the fourth part of Bloodhound, I AM A MESS BECAUSE DOGGY. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Bloodhound.
Maybe you understand me, but if not: DOGS. ARE. EVERYTHING. TO. ME.
I’ve had pets all my life, from dogs to birds to cats to fish, and my mom actually owned horses before I was born and I’M SO FURIOUS THAT SHE SOLD HER HORSE NOT LONG AFTER ADOPTING MY BROTHER AND I BECAUSE HORSES ARE REAL GREAT, TOO. I suppose if you’ve been following my journey through Tortall, you guessed that I would lose my shit over this, since I openly talked about my love for animals and my desire to have wild magic and how openly cruel it was that The Immortals wasn’t my life because I HAVE WANTED TO SPEAK TO ANIMALS SINCE I WAS A CHILD.
Now, look. I love cats. They are glorious creatures, and I absolutely a cat person. But I haven’t owned a dog aside from one brief period in 2006, which is the saddest story ever because I had to give up a dog I adopted because the people running the apartment I lived in were awful. Let’s not touch on that because this review is all about how happy I was to read this part of Bloodhound. It made me miss having a doggy companion in my life more than you possibly no. Yes, I legit considered just typing DOGGIES OH MY GOD in all-caps and size 100 font, but no, that actually would not be enough. ESSAYS ON DOGGIES. THESES ON DOGGIES. NOVELS ON DOGGIES. THERE IS NOT ENOUGH TO BE SAID ABOUT DOGGIES.
Actually, let’s start with some real goddamn honesty: I’m actually surprised I didn’t use the word “puppy” once while reading this because I am 100% one of those people who calls every dog a puppy, no matter how old. I wonder if there’s anyone in this community who has actually seen the mystical trance that comes over me when there’s a dog anywhere in my line of sight. I have STOPPED EVENTS OF MINE TO PET DOGS. I will stop mid-sentence without a shred of regret in order to shriek PUPPY and point at a dog. I still try to use telepathy to talk to dogs even though it’s never worked. ONE DAY IT WILL, I’M CERTAIN OF IT. In fact, one of the things that’s a requirement of whatever place my boyfriend and I get together in the future is that it has to be dog-friendly so we can get a pitbull and it’s gonna sleep in the bed and get kisses every day and I’m gonna name them something ridiculous and obnoxious and I’m gonna train them and MORE KISSES AND HUGS AND THIS IS RUINING MY LIFE.
I mean, yes, there’s other stuff in this section. “Stuff” denotes the following:
- The raising of bread prices in the city, borne of fears of a shortage due to poor harvests. That genuinely surprised me because I thought it was due to the bad rye, but it’s WAY bigger than that.
- The reveal that Rosto has been buying up foreign grain in preparation for his people.
- THE REVEAL THAT ROSTO AND ANIKI BRANDED THE FOLKS WHO USED SILVER COLES SO THAT BEKA COULD LATER FIND THEM. They probably all left town, but holy shit.
- blah blah blah stuff and things and blah blah blah
BUT DOGGIES. ACHOO IS THE BEST I LOVE ACHOO.
(Actually, I will discuss that shocking scene at the kennel after I yell about dogs for a while. I promise!)
I really do miss training dogs, and it’s been so, so long since I’ve had the chance. We always trained our dogs to do various things growing up, and so much of what Tamora Pierce includes in this book is incredible. The use of positive reinforcement, not relying too much on treats, giving your dog stability and affection, being patient… this is seriously ruining me. RUINING ME. And seeing all the little moments where Achoo is clearly beginning to see Beka as the one in control just killed me. I’m glad that Phelan returns to this world in the way that he does because it’s such a loving role. He knows that Beka has a lot to learn in order to be a good trainer to Achoo, so he spends hours teaching her both the verbal and non-verbal commands that a hound needs to work for the Dogs. Yeah, it was clear to me that he missed her, too, but it’s a sign of what a good trainer he is that he knows when he needs to let go and pass the reins to Beka. (Well, “pass the leash” is probably a better term, hahaha!)
The training scenes are just a pleasure to read. Oh gods, there are too many little moments that I adored! Like this one:
Achoo licked my face.
“Silly thing,” I whispered, touched. Pounce isn’t much for animal affection. “Don’t do that. Folk will say we aren’t tough.”
She licked my face again.
RETIRE MY SPIRIT RIGHT HERE, FOR I CANNOT PRESS ONWARD.
But I must. I picked up on the fact that this is now the second time that Pounce has acted strangely around Beka. After the training session with Achoo, Beka finds that Pounce refuses to leave her bed, telling her he must “watch the skies tonight.” So… what’s going on there? It’s a clue to something, right?
Anyway, I do think it’s important to talk about how this section ends, even if all I want to do is shout about dogs. That evening, after Beka reports for training, Ahuda makes a display of two of the Dogs. The scene does wonder to convey just how battered and bruised these Dogs were after the Bread Riot the day before. But it’s also so that we understand why Ahuda does what she does here. She praises Day Watch for a shift well served, given that they essentially came to work early to clean up the Mess To End All Messes. (Which Beka is justifiably concerned about! They all expected the Night Watch to be a disaster after the Bread Riots.) The point is that the Dogs, by and large, sacrificed their own well-being and comfort for hours in order to protect the city and keep order where it was needed. So, yeah, I was initially confused as to why she wanted the Stuvek Street pairs from the night before to line up in front of everyone. And when she asked the Dogs mustered before her what was “wrong” with the line of Dogs, I WAS EVEN MORE CONFUSED. Was she criticizing what they’d done?
Oh, not at all. Well, not as a whole, that is. I’m actually shocked that there were Dogs who thought they could have gotten away with NOT DOING ANYTHING AT ALL DURING THE RIOT. Like… I get being scared! That mob scared the hell out of me. But to do nothing at all? Did they just spend their whole patrol hiding elsewhere? I think the shaming they got was necessary and probably tamer than it could have been. Just… holy shit. It’s also clear to me know that the Dogs are in more need than ever. Tunstall is still healing and mostly unconscious; there are plenty of other Dogs missing due to injuries from the riot; and I got the sense that their numbers have been dwindling since the previous year. This is juxtaposed with the ever increasing threats and anxieties of the city, and all of this adds up to a messy, scary winter. How bad is this going to get? WORSE THAN I PROBABLY KNOW.
The original text contains the words “mad” and “crazy.”
Mark Links Stuff
– If you would like to support this website and keep Mark Does Stuff running, I’ve put up a detailed post explaining how you can!
– Please check out the MarkDoesStuff.com. All Mark Watches videos for past shows/season are now archived there!
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often.
– I will be at quite a few conventions and will be hosting numerous events throughout the US, Canada, and Europe in 2014. Please check my Tour Dates/Appearances page often to see if I’m coming to your city!
– Inspired by last year’s impromptu park event in London, I am taking Mark in the Park on the road! You can see all the currently-planned dates and pitch your own city here.