In the eighth part of Bloodhound, Beka and Goodwin begin their journey. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Bloodhound.
As I said at the end of the second video, I really appreciate the narrative “break” provided by this section. It’s a necessary moment for these characters to mentally prepare themselves for the adventure ahead of them in Port Caynn, sure, but it also serves to give Pierce a chance to do some lovely worldbuilding for Tortall that’s unexpected. It’s not just the docks that appear in greater detail, but the entire culture of those people who make a living off the river.
Beka, clutching her fire opal (PERHAPS MY FAVORITE TINY DETAIL IN THIS WHOLE THING), makes her way to Seven Dock with Achoo, and it’s subtly tense. I was nervous because Port Caynn was just as new to me, too! (Well, maybe not quite. I remember it played a small part in The Realms of the Gods, and Alanna visited George there once in… a book? I can’t remember what book, THAT FEELS LIKE FOUR HUNDRED YEARS AGO.) But then Tomlan calmed me down because he is so nice.
But you know, I think it’s actually quite brilliant how much of this section ends up building up Goodwin’s characterization. Tomlan’s interest as a character is in his contrasts to Goodwin, and it’s through him that we’re able to see more of her tender side, you know? It’s not like she’s a contradiction, though. Her tough personality and thick skin is highlighted by her work as a dog, but that doesn’t mean she’s incapable of being sweet or affectionate. She just chooses who gets to see all of her, and that’s Tomlan, through and through. And it’s clear that the two absolutely adore one another. As hard as it’s going to be for Goodwin to be away from her husband, I think it’s pretty damn meaningful that they can still miss one another after being together for so long.
Then there’s that scene much later on here where Beka comes upon Goodwin doing complicated needlework. Again, the surprise is rooted in how Beka (and even the reader) perceives Goodwin’s nature. We certainly are used to her toughness and abrasive nature. So how can she also be ridiculous talented at needlework? How has a Dog mastered something so delicate?
“As long as I could do this kind of work, Ma thought I might give over the nonsense of being a Dog and be a proper wife, selling needlework to make a bit of meat money on the side, as she did. After she passed on, I kept it up. It wasn’t the coin so much, by then. More like the remembrance of her, and pride in the craft.”
OH. OH. WELL, GOODBYE, EMOTIONS.
For real, I’m becoming increasingly convinced that Goodwin will be my favorite secondary character in all of Tortall. THERE IS SO MUCH DEPTH TO HER. I’m just so happy that she’s the one partnered with Beka for this novel because I CONSTANTLY WANT MORE OF HER. I should also take the time to note that Slapper is coming along, too! IT’S A PARTY. Well, a painful party at times, since Slapper is constantly violent towards Beka. Will Beka ever win him over?
Anyway, I need to back up in the narrative so I can talk about the way in which Pierce conveys this change in setting. Like Beka, I’ve always been drawn to big cities. After growing up in a moderately-sized one that felt like it was in the middle of nowhere (the conservative, bigoted social culture played a big part of that), I purposely chose to go to a college in a large city. I kept moving to bigger and bigger cities, and then I found myself in downtown Los Angeles, and I was hooked. I live smack in the middle of downtown Oakland now, and I’d never have it any other way. I recently went on a road trip to Humboldt County, and my boyfriend and I, who found the scenery bewildering in its beauty, pondered whether one day we could ever live in a place so far from what we considered home.
There’s a point during the sequence where Beka watches the “parade of vessels” and wonders the same thing. Like her, I crave the activity and the business of big cities. I love knowing that I can get good falafel at 11 at night, or that I can go see some independent film that’s only playing in a few cities, or that I’m a quick rail ride away from the beach, the forest, the mountains, and the ocean. Still, there’s a beauty here to the people who have made their living on the river. I love how colorful and unique this passage felt, and I thought it was a clever way to visually convey the idea that Beka and Goodwin were leaving home. Port Caynn is not going to be like Corus, and life in the biggest port city is not like life in the capitol.
That’s also the most likely reason we meet the characters we do here. The people on the Green Mist largely settle into familiar routines of gambling and socializing, and it’s not long before Beka already feels left out. I think that’s going to be the biggest challenge in the coming pages, since she’s got to keep up her “story” while assimilating. It’s a double threat in that sense, and I don’t envy the challenge. She fares well here with Marco, one of the random men who speaks with her, but that’s because he’s kind and because she’s new. It’s not the kind of interaction I think she’ll face in Port Caynn very often. I’m sure she’ll have to deal with a lot of misogyny, too, since we’ve seen that women Dogs are often doubted or second-guessed just because they’re women.
AND THEN THERE’S DALE. It’s a pleasant surprise to see him again… sort of. Both Goodwin and Beka are extremely upfront about the fact that it’s possible that Dale is one of the people they’ll have to hobble in the colesmithing ring. And look, this series has addressed the line Beka has had to balance herself on in regards to Dogs and rushers, so I wouldn’t actually be shocked if Beka is faced with this same conflict in him. I mean, I want him to be nice! I want him to be a friend that Beka can depend on because she only has Goodwin. And Achoo! WE MUST NOT FORGET ACHOO.
A lot of this is speculation, of course, because I don’t actually have any real indication what’s going on here. Like Terrier, the main case that these two are working on is a tough one. And if they can’t find the colesmith in one of the gold- or silversmiths in town, then they’ve got to find someone who has managed to secretly get silver without the Crown knowing. I imagine that’s what’s going to happen, which means this should be VERY FRUSTRATING, and the answer is probably right in front of me again, and y’all are cackling your lives away.
The original text contains the words “mad” and “crazed.”
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