In the ninth part of Bloodhound, Beka and Goodwin arrive in Port Caynn and I can’t hear you because OKHA SOYAN. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Bloodhound.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of misogyny.
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I’LL FREAK OUT LATER BECAUSE HI, HELLO OKHA, HOW ARE YOU.
Just every goddamn page, I get more and more excited to experience Bloodhound. From the second Goodwin and Beka get off their boat, their job begins, and I love how challenging this is going to be for them. And for us! As I said in the past review, Port Caynn is new to us as well, so we’re meeting many of these people and experiencing this setting as if we are Beka, and it’s a neat way to frame the novel. So, even if this first day is largely a set-up for what’s to come, it’s extremely important to the novel as a whole. I mean, it’s a chance for us to compare the city to Corus. Being a port city means that the population is a lot more diverse and perhaps even buiner than Corus, since folks are coming and going so often each day. But Beka seeks out the things that will make her feel at home while she’s away, and she turns to the similarities to do so. She locates the cutpurse, the sex workers, the mumpers, the sellers, and the Dogs, and it’s a neat way for her to assure herself that while there are obvious differences, at heart she’ll know what to do when faced with these familiar figures.
Of course, I realize that this is a little ironic, given what she and Goodwin experience upon arriving at the Guards House. I had to re-think my perception of Terrier because… well, all of the Tortall books so far have addressed misogyny in some sense. But the Dogs that Beka has trained with and worked alongside are not particularly sexist about women being Dogs. The society as a whole is, but it wasn’t until Sir Lionel opened his bigot mouth that I realized how much better Beka has it in Corus. I think from Gershom’s warning, I expected Sir Lionel to be… sloppy. Or lazy! Or clearly underhanded, since Gershom suspected something was afoul in Port Caynn. But he ends up being horrifically proper and stiff, which is a surprise because now it’s entirely possible that there’s so much peace in Port Caynn because Lionel is ruthless. I mean, look, the guy IMMEDIATELY tells Beka she’s too young for a mission. Which might be historically true, but it’s also the SECOND sentence he says to her. LITERALLY. Then he openly criticizes Nestor about his connections with the “less… law-abiding parts of the city,” and DUDE IS SO BOLD. Does he have a sense of humor at all? Is he always this serious?
“You must take care not to start false rumors and panics, Guardswomen. We have a peaceful city here, and I will not tolerate the creation of agitation among my citizens by you outsiders.”
YO, SIR LIONEL, I THINK THESE TWO KNOW HOW TO DO THEIR JOBS. But that’s precisely why this is so insidious. He is already convinced that Beka and Goodwin are gossipy. You know, because women just can’t avoid being gossips! (This is such a bogus claim that I’ve never understood because we men NEVER KNOW WHEN TO SHUT UP. WE ARE ALWAYS TALKING.) Of course, he then spells it out for them, and I’m not gonna quote it because it’s so infuriating. Does this mean that Sir Lionel only hires men to be Dogs??? Oh shit, I bet that’s the case. Wait, does he know that Nestor is gay, and what are his (awful) thoughts on that? (Misogyny is often directed at gay men because it’s a deliberate way to associate feminine traits in a negative sense with gayness.) At least the other Dog we meet here – the desk sergeant, Axman – knows that this is bullshit. So who’s this cult of the Gentle Mother? Why has this taken hold in Port Caynn?
Anyway, I already have a ton of questions, but the narrative pushes on so that we can learn more about where Goodwin and Beka are staying. We meet Serenity, who runs the Ladyshearth Lodgings, and I RELATED SO MUCH TO BEKA IN THIS SCENE. I’ve lived in maybe one “nice” apartment my entire life. So being amidst nice things is really intimidating to me! It’s a totally different experience, you know? Beka points out how “life is so different if you or your master has deep pockets to pay for it,” and I could not agree more. But I’m glad that everyone is telling Beka to enjoy it. For me, I like it because she deserves it. I still think this all feels like a promotion – albeit a temporary one – for Beka that’s due to her excellent work on the Shadow Snake and Fire Opal Murders. She should get the chance to further prove herself! Plus, NICE PEOPLE. SERENITY IS SO NICE AND CONSIDERATE, I WANT TO BE BEST FRIENDS WITH HER.
But let’s just get to the best part here: OKHA SOYAN. CANONICAL QUEER CHARACTER OF COLOR WHO ABSOLUTELY READS AS QUEER AND THIS IS SUPER EXCITING TO ME. I love that there’s no denying that Okha is queer because… that sort of visibility is super important! It’s a reason why many queer folks are bullied, so I think we need to have characters in fiction that can’t be confused or read as straight. Not that Nestor is, obviously, but Okha is written in a way that I actually wouldn’t be surprised if they turned out to be genderfluid, too. He plays with expectations of his gender and sexuality, and I WOULD LOVE TO SEE HIM DANCE AND SING. Also, I am legit jealous of his hair???? I always wished I could grow my hair long, but it’s super thick and doesn’t obey any product ever, so I inevitably end up shaving it off like I always do.
I just… I’m excited? I’m thrilled that Okha and Nestor are characters we will have to see again. I’m thrilled that there’s a possibility (though a challenging one) that Okha will be able to help Beka and Goodwin with their search, since he works in a lot of gambling dens. I’M THRILLED THAT THIS IS HAPPENING AND I’M READING IT AND NOW I JUST REMEMBERED. I need to find and dig out photos from a decade ago when I went through my make-up wearing phase. I was big on black nail polish and dark eyeshadow for a while. Unfortunately, I’ve never been that big on taking photos of myself or having them taking, so there’s little photographic proof of this shit. AH, OKHA, YOU MAKE ME SO HAPPY, AND I’M SO HAPPY I GET TO READ ABOUT A CHARACTER LIKE THIS.
The original text contains the word “mad.”
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