In the fifth part of Bloodhound, I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS BOOK ALREADY. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Bloodhound.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of severe injuries and memory loss.
There are two distinct halves to this section, and both of them deal with retribution.
I still have no real concept of how this novel is going to unfold, which makes me kinda nervous? Actually, let’s be honest with ourselves here: I AM ALWAYS NERVOUS ABOUT HOW TAMORA PIERCE NOVELS WILL RUIN ME. But there’s an erratic structure to Bloodhound that I’m enjoying because a lot has happened already – the colemongering, the whispers of a conspiracy in Port Caynn, the Bread Riot, and now this – and at the same time, I DON’T KNOW WHERE THIS IS GOING.
Monday, September 10 is a blank entry of Beka’s, intentionally done so as to unsettle us immediately. I actually thought something was wrong with my Kindle file because… well, it made no sense. Why is there a blank page? Why would Beka do something like this? Pierce uses the page as a stand-in for Beka’s memory, which is taken from her due to the Pell brothers’ attack. Even the way Tuesday’s entry is written is an indication of the horror to come. It’s in an unusual tone because the tense is all screwy, since Beka isn’t just writing about her day as she remembers it. She’s had to use information provided to her from others in order to piece events for us, and as someone who has had to deal with memory loss, this is a super unsettling thing to experience.
But for Beka, she’s also got to deal with the pain of being jumped by two men upon leaving her apartment. Pierce describes this in agonizing detail, but it’s necessary. It’s all that Beka has. Her pain is the only thing she knows upon waking, and it’s scary to read about! I suppose it’s a sign of my unending love for dogs that as soon as Achoo expressed worry about Beka’s condition that I basically crumbled because I CAN’T DEAL WITH IT. But I was so thankful that Achoo was there because I know how comforting a dog can be to have, and Achoo is just… ACHOO IS TOO MUCH. The way she looks all sad at Beka and scrabbles at the bed? Done. DONE.
I did have to remind myself – constantly – that Beka’s decision to be a Dog meant that she was held to a different standard by her peers. I admit that my immediate reaction to Pounce and Goodwin’s criticizing was negative, but it’s because I’m not a Dog. I didn’t have Beka’s training, I wasn’t expected to constantly anticipate Rats or their families retaliating against me, and I wasn’t familiar with the sort of rigor that Dogs had to live up to. That’s a reality Beka has to live with, as harsh as it was. I didn’t take this as her being blamed for what the Pells did to her so much as… well, a disappointment that Goodwin and Pounce felt in Beka. Beka is super observant and not one to ignore her training. And isn’t that why many of her partners since becoming a Dog weren’t her partners anymore? She’s already a damn good Dog, and she got sloppy about checking her exits.
Still, I felt bad for her and furious at the men who nearly killed her. I also admit that I thought this would have to do with the colemongers, not an unrelated case that wasn’t mentioned in the text. (Let me also state that it’s possible I just missed mention of the Coles! I MISS A LOT OF DETAILS, IT HAPPENS.) While the Pells might be unrelated to any larger narrative, what Beka and her friends do with this incident is absolutely connected to one of the bigger themes initiated in Terrier. Beka’s need to balance her life as a Dog with the world of the Rogue comes to the forefront of Bloodhound after Rosto reveals his plans for the Pells: He’s going to kill them. Oh god, can we talk about this utterly haunting bit?
I looked at him. He was being too helpful. The red gillyflowers all about my room were starting to look like splashes of blood.
It’s a deliberate choice for Pierce to give us a visual representation of Beka’s fear: that in some way, she’ll play a part in the death of the Pells, even if it is merely through her refusal to stop Rosto from killing them. And it’s not like Rosto has a terrible justification for getting retribution; he uses the metaphor of a king’s duty to convey his need to protect his “borders,” since the Pells brought their violence right to Rosto’s doorstep.
“It doesn’t have anything to do with who was beaten so bad. It could have been Her Majesty, the Lord High Magistrate, any member of the King’s household,” Rosto said. “The important thing is, an example has to be made.”
I really feel like this is the most important and uncomfortable test (SO FAR) of Beka’s loyalty, both to the Dogs and to Rosto. She’s quick to state that she’d hobble Rosto if she had the evidence, but then she backtracks just as quickly, admitting that the Rogue is a vital figure in the city. She might lose her life if she nabs Rosto for anything other than the worst offense imaginable. And in this case, she recognizes that Rosto getting retribution isn’t something the rest of the Lower City will view as all that serious.
Still, when Beka finds out later that night that the Pells were already killed AND DROPPED RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHTMARKET WHERE ALL THE SOLDIERS ARE, she still can’t shake the feeling of guilt. She’s reminded of her complicated emotional state the following day when she goes to visit a specific spinner – the one by the fountain in the Nightmarket. WHERE SHE ONLY CASUALLY HEARS TUNSTALL AND GOODWIN SPEAKING RIGHT AFTER TUNSTALL’S LEGS WERE BROKEN. Oh gods NO. (Can I also state that Raaashell is a gorgeous name? I adore it.) I did like that we were introduced to another spinner and that Pierce has written Raaashell as a distinct character and a living organism. Is there any sort of mythology surrounding spinners or did Pierce invent them? I’M SO FASCINATED.
Anyway, before I finish this off with a discussion of THAT ONE SCENE, I have to be honest. It’s entirely possible that my reaction to the pigeon section is due to the fact that I simply can’t remember if anything like this happened in Terrier. I’m fairly sure that Beka was rarely able to ever interact with the ghosts that the pigeons carried. It wasn’t impossible, but the circumstances meant that these spirits did whatever talking they wanted. Here, Beka completely interacts with the ghosts of the Pell brothers, eager to find out who killed them. While they don’t provide her with any information (since they were hooded by those that beat them to death), I thought it was a pretty big deal that she was conversing with them like a normal conversation. I also thought Beka was the literal best for siccing Achoo on the ghosts. BLESS. WHAT A GREAT SCENE.
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