Mark Reads ‘Bloodhound’: Part 19

In the nineteenth part of Bloodhound, HOW DID ALL OF THIS HAPPEN AT ONCE? Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Bloodhound.

Trigger Warning: For talk of police brutality, corruption, and wrongful arrest.

This is terrifying. terrifying TERRIFYING. I mean, I actually wasn’t triggered by this because I was so caught up in the thrill of it all, but Tamora Pierce captures the utter fear and helplessness of realization that the law can exist to strip you of any safety. I touched on this – briefly, though – in the previous review, since Beka had to experience the pain of all the people tortured and killed by corrupt Dogs. But her experience in this chapter is so much more real to me because I know what it feels like.

I use the word “helplessness” because it’s about the only word that properly describes what it feels like to be arrested for something you didn’t do. I was arrested for the alleged battery of a police officer in 2008, during a protest against Prop 8, and it’s (unfortunately) one of the defining moments of my life. I think of myself differently before that day and after it. It gave me PTSD that I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of. And it gave me an experience in fear and helplessness that’s unforgettable. Because you never quite understand how much power law enforcement people have until you’re subjected to it, and then it’s the most terrifying thing imaginable.

More on that later. Let’s go through all the unreal, unfair, and mind-shattering plot twists in this section.

Master Finer

Let’s all laugh at my mild genre savviness, because I assumed he’d be killed or he’d be safe. I did not expect the law to turn against him. But I should have! Pierce has constructed this novel to turn our gaze to the more unsavory parts of Dog work: corruption, bribing, torture, and favoritism. If Deputy Provost Lionel was too afraid to take on Pearl Skinner, then I should have realized that at the first threat, Skinner would (deliberately or through fear) utilize the power she held over the Dogs. I am certain that somehow, she put two and two together, realized what Finer had told Beka, and ordered Finer and his family to not only be arrested, but to be publicly humiliated in the process.

Which also brings up an important point that’s addressed in the text itself: Why is Pearl Skinner so uninterested in the panic that this will inevitably cause? Her colemongering has been so openly reckless, and it’s the one thing that I have no explanation for. By nailing the arrest warrants to all the shops and announcing it in the streets, whomever was responsible for this is certainly going to bring about chaos that they’ll certainly be harmed by, too. SO WHY DO IT? I DON’T GET IT.

And a lot of the complexity of this comes down to fear. Meraud Finer reveals to Beka that the guild lied about Isanz Finer telling them about the coles he had received. I imagine that they’re so desperate to keep the city calm, it’s easier to let Finer be a scapegoat. BUT WHAT IF. What if Skinner threatened them too? What if she’s a better mastermind than I think she is? EXCEPT I STILL DON’T GET WHY SHE’D DROWN PORT CAYNN IN COLES. Oh my god, is the explanation just sitting in front of me??? (Of course it is. What would Mark Reads Tortall be without my cluelessness?)

Meraud and Beka’s Plan

I think I was reading this whole part at a billion miles per hour, because HOLY SHIT. I understood how important it was for Beka to save the Finers and do it right then. They could be tortured (and killed) in the interim. Any amount of evidence could be used to frame them. It would prove to be a brutal silencing tactic. How can they provide evidence of Pearl’s guilt if they were mutilated or killed? On top of that, what if they’re convicted of colesmithing? Now I know what happens to people guilty of that crime!

So Beka does what she can to ensure that Meraud is safe from the authorities while she plots her own next move. Sending Meraud to a temple of the Goddess is a great idea, and I think Goodwin will later tell Beka how proud she is of her for that one. And I think she’ll also say that Beka had few options left to her at that point. It’s hard reading about Beka thinking she could try to appeal to Sir Lionel because – well, look at this:

He was the only one with the authority to order the Watch Commanders to lock the city down, if need be. He was also the only one who could release the Finers before they were tortured. I only hoped that he would take my word.

Y’all, she thought the worst that could happen was that Sir Lionel wouldn’t believe her. GODS, IT HURTS. I admit that I was nervous when Beka arrived at the kennel and was asked to leave her pack, her weapons, and Achoo behind, BUT I WAS SO UNPREPARED.

True Allegiances

Y’all, it’s so hard reading this because it’s definitely a case of hindsight being 20/20. Lionel had already been characterized as unwilling to curb Pearl Skinner because of how frightened he was. He’d sent his family out of town. He had overlooked so much crime and corruption in his city with that bullshit excuse that everything was fine and he didn’t want Beka and Goodwin to mess it up. Truthfully, though, he’s a coward. Look, I don’t think people need to be recklessly heroic to be relatable characters. I don’t think we should hold people by a standard that says they should get themselves and their family ruthlessly murdered. It’s certainly admirable to think about the idea, you know? But oh my god, what Sir Lionel does here is unforgivable. When presented with evidence that he should believe because this is a Dog and he should give her some benefit of the doubt, he demands rigorous evidence of her. He insults her within just a few minutes of her being there, and I imagine that this is the only way he can deal with the rising guilt within him. But that guilt quickly gives way to anger when Beka foolishly BUT BRILLIANTLY spells it out for him:

“You know curst well who it is, Sir Knight. If you’d been using your head instead of shrinking at every shadow, you’d have seen it for yourself. And if you hadn’t let her run fast and far beyond all control, it might never have come to this.”

WHERE IS THE MISTRUTH. WHERE IS IT. But yeah, this is so reckless because… well, Sir Lionel zaps Beka with his Gift and freezes her in place, and then proceeds to torture her with said Gift until she admits whether or not she told Goodwin about her “suspect.” And Beka – Beka, who was so wrapped up in social anxiety and shyness that she used to not be able to speak to strangers at all – lies right to his face, allowing herself to be hurt further just to make the lie more believable. BEKA COOPER: MY HERO.

Truthfully, it’s so scary to me because I know what it’s like to have a figure of authority lie in order to protect his own mistakes. I know how frustrating it is to realize that the very way the law is set up means that you’re powerless. BY DESIGN. By design, Beka is at the whims of this man, not just because he’s frozen her with magic. No, he deems her as someone who has committed a crime against the realm and has her ordered to Rattery Prison. It’s so DEVASTATING to read because HOW??? How is she going to get out of this? The very organization she works for and supports has just turned against her, and she knows intimately that there’s no easy way for a hobbled Rat to get out of the custody of a Dog, let alone MAGIC.

It sucks. And then she wishes Pounce were still there and IT’S SO SAD, MAKE IT STOP.

And gods all bless it, someone stops it. I love everything about the choice to have Sergeant Axman show his true allegiance to the Dogs at this point. Yes, it provides Beka with a way to escape her capture, but it’s so important for Beka to know that there are other Dogs who believe in the job, not their boss. This is a critical junction in the story, and now, there are clear sides developing. That doesn’t mean that UTTER DISASTER isn’t still lurking around the corner, because surely Pearl is going to find out about what just happened. What then? How can Beka stay alive while Goodwin is still out of town? While she have to save her own life instead of saving the Finers? WHAT CAN SHE DO?

What an incredible twist in the story, y’all. I’M SO EXCITED TO READ MORE.

The original text contains uses of “crazy,” “mad,” and “insane.”

Video 1

Video 2

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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