In the thirteenth part of Bloodhound, Beka has a personal moment with Okha and is conflicted about Dale. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Bloodhound.
Trigger Warning: Just in case, I open this review with a brief discussion on Okha’s gender.
So, I think I’ll largely sit out on any sort of meaningful talk about what is and isn’t appropriate for gender presentation or pronouns since it’s not my place. We get canon confirmation that Okha is trans in this chapter (WHICH IS SO AMAZING, THIS BOOK EXCITES ME FOREVER), but I wanted to bring up an issue of Okha’s pronouns. I’ve always learned that one should default to whatever pronouns a person prefers, and in this case? Okha doesn’t give any, so I wonder what they’d prefer and whether or not Pierce should have immediately switched to feminine pronouns. Still, NOT MY CONVERSATION TO HAVE.
I did love how Okha and Beka, seeing one another as they truly are, seemed to develop an almost instantaneous connection to one another. Okha later comments on it, admitting that they’re surprised that Beka compelled them to be so honest about themselves. For example:
“If you’re planning revenge for this morning, Beka, forget it now. People who try to hurt Pearl have been known to end their lives flayed, gutted, and hung on the gates at Guards House.”
He had a sad, distant look to his eyes. The person who’d met that fate was someone he’d known – now there was something I would bet on.
It’s a shockingly raw moment because of how sudden it is and because Okha was willing to admit it so readily to Beka, despite that they’ve only met Beka… once? Total? And then Okha passes along tons of information about the men and women who surround Pearl Skinner, too! It’s not just emotional admissions. So how exactly does Okha know all of this? How do they know these people so well? If you combine that with Pearl’s suggestion that Beka ask Nestor about what she’s capable of… HMMMM. THERE IS SOMETHING HERE I DON’T UNDERSTAND. And I feel like I’m so close to it! Yet again, I am being teased by the text itself.
Zolaika is amazing. CAN WE ACKNOWLEDGE THIS:
“She is not as stiff as she acts, nor as slow. The makeup comes off – it is painted onto a light piece of muslin she can pull off her face. A quick scrub with a wet cloth and you would not recognize her. The red hair is a wig.” Okha leaned forward and tapped my wrist with two fingers. “Remember her, Beka, and tell Goodwin. If Pearl wants folk dead in silence, never knowing who murdered them, she sends Zolaika.”
HOLY SHIT, MOST TERRIFYING AND INTIMIDATING ASSASSIN EVER. And I love her.
Back to Okha. I wanted to quote this section for REASONS. Mostly SCIENCE:
“You are an odd one, aren’t you?” he asked from somewhere between his mot’s world and his cove’s. “You say little, but you make me want to talk about things that I don’t usually babble about, you know. Maybe it’s those eyes of yours. You don’t judge….”
God, that is such an important line. And look, as someone who is basically a professional TMI oversharer, I still have to judge whether or not I can share things with people in person. I actually struggle with that a whole lot more than I do with writing shit that I know is going to go up online. It’s hard! But I know this feeling so well, and it’s mystifying. I suppose that when you’re used to judging eyes so much, it’s disarming (but welcoming) when someone looks upon you with sympathy or adoration or desire. Which can be a dangerous thing, of course, but if you look at the context in which Okha says this, you can see that they mean it. Right after this is when Okha elaborates on their gender, too, so it’s clear that they feel comfortable with Beka. And sometimes, a sympathetic ear is what a person needs more than anything else.
But it looks like Okha’s got a good gig in the Waterlilly. We don’t spend much time with them after this, since Okha must return to the stage, but lord, I’m so excited about this character. The book transitions back to Beka’s interactions with Dale, who continues to perplex me. My gut reaction to him is not to trust him all that much, given how many clues there are that he’s got something shady going on. But what if the clues are red herrings? Has being tricked so many times by Tamora Pierce turned me into a more paranoid reader??? I mean, I’m glad that Beka is finding some enjoyment in Dale’s company and his flirting. That’s good! Beka deserves to have a good time, and you know, sometimes it’s nice to feel desired. STILL. WHAT ABOUT THESE THINGS:
- “I wondered how many of them were coles. Only one or two of them were scored to show they were all silver, unlike Hanse’s nobles.”
- “I glanced at Goodwin’s eyes. They were sharp as they rested on Dale. She knows, I thought. He has fooled Hanse, his friend, and Steen, who knows him, too, but he hasn’t fooled Goodwin.”
- “Dale was scooping his last heap of silver coins off the table and into a bowl brought by one of the serving maids. She nodded and took it away, which seemed to me to be very trusting of Dale. Did they check the coins to see if they were pure silver?”
- “Surely an educated cove like Dale would have heard something. Hanse at least was checking all of his silver, from what I’d seen.”
- “Then I remembered him in the riot, kicking high to the side with enough strength to knock his foe over. That kind of fighting took skill and training. He’d studied it somewhere.”
SO WHAT’S GOING ON WITH DALE? And why the hell did Jupp want to dance with Beka? And why is Dale, who is a bank courier, spending so much time in the Court of the Rogue? Y’all, I don’t know if I should be suspicious or not! I’m going to blame my panic and confusion on all of you because THIS IS ACTUALLY YOUR FAULT. After falling for the red herring that was Terrier, I don’t want to do this again. But I also cannot figure out Dale. It’s possible he’s genuine about what he says, that he knows a lot but isn’t involved in anything. But there are too many unanswered questions, and I’m worried he’s hiding something from Beka.
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