In the eighteenth part of Bloodhoud, Beka spends her day sans Goodwin and uses it to collect clues. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Bloodhound.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of police brutality
THIS BOOK IS RAPIDLY PICKING UP SPEED AND I AM TERRIFIED. Documented here is what felt like the most productive day in her life, so I’m going to try to cover everything she learned as best as possible.
So, I kind of have a thing for crotchety old characters? Like, people who are just always bitter and angry and who don’t change for the protagonist, they’re just mad all the time. So I found myself amused by Isanz Finer when Beka discovered him waiting downstairs for her, furiously drinking ale. ONLY ALE BRINGS HIM JOY, and even that is barely what I’d call joy. I want to be best friends with him.
Anyway, he comes to Beka, irritated that Goodwin isn’t around to cater to his absurd needs, with the information they asked of him. Well, not just that information: he reveals that he’s received no further correspondence about the coles he reported to the Dogs and the Guild. They’ve been silent. Plus, the cost of silver and gold has risen in the past few days, meaning that it’s only a matter of time before financial panic settles on Port Caynn, which will inevitably spread to other parts of Tortall. WHICH MEANS THEY’LL HAVE SO MUCH MORE TO WORRY ABOUT THAN PEARL SKINNER.
At the very least, Finer’s intensive work has given Beka the location of a great deal of the silver in the coles: a mine from Coast Hills, one that is most likely brand new AND A SECRET. I fully expect that the remainder of this book will take place in Port Caynn, but I will entertain a headcanon where somewhere travels to the mine and I get to sing “Secret Tunnel.” That’s all I want right now.
This is the first of a number of new clues all pointing at Pearl Skinner, and the scene also gives us Master Finer’s vicious refusal to be afraid of Pearl:
“As if I would run yelping from that street trash!” Master Finer said, glaring at me. “I came with guards, and the guards and spells at my house are more than enough for the Rogue. Let her come after me! We’ll bash those fool pearl teeth in!”
I consider myself mildly genre savvy, so there are really only two outcomes here: Finer really does make it home safely, or this will later turn out to be an ironic bit of foreshadowing. I’ll take the former, please.
I really think that in the hands of most people, the concept of dust spinners would be executed poorly. They’re a weird idea in terms of a… well, are they supernatural creatures or living beings? Pierce plays with the very concept of their existence, and it’s so fascinating to see how well-thought-out they are. They are conscious beings, that’s undeniable. Not only that, but they respond to Beka’s thoughts, words, and intentions. That’s the case with Shhasow, the spinner that Beka briefly sensed in the previous section. She goes back to it and discovers that because it’s behind the Tradesmen District’s kennel, it has been picking up every single instance of torture and police brutality that’s taken place there.
Pierce isn’t detailed this time, as she was with Durant, and I actually thought it was a lot more haunting than I expected. We certainly get a few examples of the horrors she hears, as well as learning that Zolaika herself was involved in torturing Rats and that Angelsea and Shales are probably working for Pearl. But everything is mostly filtered through Beka’s emotional and physical reactions. Her exhaustion is telling of what she heard, as is this part:
There are some things about being a Dog, and knowing all the things that Dogs do, that I cannot bear.
You know why I love this? Because Pierce doesn’t try to make Beka disavow herself from what her fellow Dogs to do. She doesn’t make Beka deny it happens. She doesn’t pull out that tired logic of, “Well, not all Dogs are torturous assholes!” Because we know this already, given that this series is centered on Dogs who are trying to do right in the world. Instead, Pierce gives Beka an experience that essentially causes her to relive the pain forced on these Rats at the hands of other Dogs, and it makes Beka want to be the kind of Dog who will never do this.
She visits Hesserrr in this entry, too, and her experience with him is equally as rewarding. She gets confirmation that the Rogue is having folks guard the filchers, but not revealing the identity of the specific people being used to spread coles. I still don’t understand why Pearl Skinner is doing this, but I definitely have no doubt anymore that she’s reponsible. Which worries me. There are just under two hundred pages left in the book. SOMETHING HUGE COULD STILL HAPPEN, OH NO. But really, it’s the big shocker that Hesserrr delivers to Beka that really changes the game.
I still think that the lack of any confirmation of what Okha’s gender identity is can be confusing, but this section at least made me consider that perhaps Okha just prefers to be genderfluid, that they enjoy switching between different identities based on their situation or their emotional state. Okha never corrects Beka’s use of pronouns or how to refer to them either, you know?
Oh, right, Okha was basically forced into singing in Pearl’s court.
LIKE OKAY. I don’t think I’m off-base to suggest that Pearl specifically manipulated Okha because of who Okha was in a relationship, right? By exploiting the awkwardness of the situation, Pearl can entertain herself and keep Nestor in check in the event that he comes for her. OH, AND HOW ABOUT THIS?
“Hanse is from Arenaver?” I asked, as if it interested me only a little.
“No, from a little town on Barony Olau.”
OH MY GOD OH MY GOD. Who isn’t involved with this? SWEET LORD. Even Okha is technically wrapped up in this plot, though not by choice. They obviously knew that the time would come when they might be able to help take down Pearl, because OKHA HAD DETAILED MAPS OF ALL THREE COURTS OF THE ROGUE ON HAND. Oh my god, that is invaluable!!! But I was struck hardest by Okha’s clear moral struggle, which Beka asks about:
“How can you bear to explore those places, knowing what happens to folk that Pearl doesn’t like?”
Okha looked away from me. “I think of Nestor, and the things that happen to Pearl’s enemies.” He met my eyes again.
There was an ancient cold in his eyes. I wondered if a god’s eyes were like that, miles distant while still being up close. I wondered if Okha’s Trickster was in the room with me right now.
I will scorch the earth if anything happens to Okha or Nestor, I swear.
I have nothing but endless praise for the lovely scene in which Beka buys a contraceptive charm from a charm shop. Pierce writes Beka as being nervous about it, questioning whether she even needs one, but when Beka commits to it, she’s not shamed for her purchase, and the shopkeeper is super sweet about it. YES. THIS IS GREAT. MORE OF THIS ALL THE TIME.
My only worry here, though, is that Dale, who Beka is pretty smitten with, is actually involved in the colemongering. Oh my god, she’s going to be destroyed if that’s the case, isn’t she? Let me once again remind y’all that I was convinced that Beka would go through this same ethical journey but with Rosto. SO CLOSE, AND YET SO FAR.
The original text contains the words “mad” and “crazy.”
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