Mark Reads ‘Bloodhound’: Part 20

In the twentieth part of Bloodhound, Beka makes a risky gamble to escape Sir Lionel and his Dogs. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Bloodhound.

Oh, Beka Cooper, you’re so wonderful.

I like that while Beka faces a monstrous task in lying outright to Pearl and her entire Court of rats, she doesn’t magically change from being horribly shy to PERFECT FOREVER. In fact, I’d say that she uses some of her more awkward qualities to convince everyone that she isn’t a clever Dog, you know? BUT HOLY SHIT, BEKA, THIS IS YOUR WILDEST IDEA EVER. I had fun trying to guess what she was going to do, and ultimately, I was only sort of right. She did try to hide in Pearl’s Gauntlet court, but she did so in the open.


But let’s not ignore how Achoo plays an integral part in this “adventure,” as Beka refers to it. You do realize Beka basically warmed everyone’s hearts by bringing along a cute dog, right? In short order, she gets past the coves guarding the Gauntlet; then she prominently sits in the hall, casually eating and feeding Achoo, waiting for Pearl to arrive. As chaotic as the last section was, it’s actually shocking to see how calm everything is here. It’s brilliant, both in terms of Beka’s plan and how Pierce chose to write all of this. It’s the calm before the storm, but does the storm ever actually arrive? That threat of disaster is everywhere, and Pierce constantly teases us with it every chance she gets. Pearl enters the room? I expected the worst. Pearl notices Beka? I expected a fight. Beka gives Pearl that string of pearls? I WAS READY TO PASS OUT. And it never ends, not even when Beka is able to pull off her con. Yes, there’s a moment of relief when Beka heads upstairs to watch the Court, but how long does that last? LIKE A MINUTE. MAYBE.

I’ll get to that in a bit. Let’s talk about Beka’s lie here. She relies on the image she’s portrayed in Port Caynn, of a spoiled, fickle, and naïve little Dog who was sent away from home to be safe. And really, if you think of what she’s done in Port Caynn, it’s easy to perceive Beka as a fool, one who doesn’t understand how to navigate social contracts or the complicated arrangements in the city. So all Beka truly has to do is feed into that. She has to seem like she’s ignorant and entitled. And she has to do all of this and appeal to Pearl’s sense of respect.

SO ACHOO ACTS LIKE A GIANT CUTIE PIE BECAUSE DOGS. It’s a great start to their conversation, but it also gave us this killer line:

I hate to know good things of an enemy. It makes my life harder.

Pearl is a fascinating character because until this moment, we’d never seen her be tender ever. But you know, I’ve certainly met a lot of people who treated animals better than actual people, so it’s not all that surprising to me. Still, her treatment of Beka? It’s fair. Beka spins a complicated tale that makes her look utterly and blissfully ignorant, so much so that she’s clearly the butt of the joke for the court. But she also makes sure that the endgame of her tale – that she told Sir Lionel “stupid” and he overreacted – appealed to Pearl’s own feelings about the man. It works, beautifully so, and Pearl allows her to hide in the last place the Dogs would ever expect her to be.

But how long can this last, y’all? Like I said, the relief from Beka’s successful lie lasts right about to the point where Dale shows up. Unfortunately, his very presence is a threat. First, we have to worry if he’s found out about what’s happened between Beka and Lionel, and if he has, how much does he know? On top of that, Pierce never lets us forget that Dale still isn’t above suspicion himself. WHAT IF HE IS INVOLVED IN THE COLEMONGERING??? I don’t want him to be, but constant vigilance. I have been tricked by Tamora Pierce too many times. I think that by the end of this part, it seems fairly clear that Dale is not involved. When Fair Flory dramatically confronts Pearl about her stores of supplies for the upcoming winter, Dale’s reaction is sympathetic enough. He’s concerned, but not terribly worried. BUT THEN:

“Here’s what worries me, Beka.” Dale placed silver coins in front of me, face side down. Each of them was cut through the side with the Tortallan sword and crown. At the bottom of the cuts I saw the gleam of brass.

OH. OH NO. He’s bringing it up first??? And he doesn’t seem to be suggesting he had anything to do with it?

“I’m not the only one who’s getting bit this bad. So I’m wondering, here are Beka and Goodwin, fresh in town. Maybe they’re looking for colemongers.”


But it doesn’t actually lead to Beka having to admit her true purpose. I WAS RELIEVED. For now, Dale doesn’t believe that this is why she and Goodwin are in Port Caynn. Maybe??? Unless he is lying? WHY MUST I QUESTION EVERYTHING EVER? Actually, it’s fun. It’s fun trying to put this all together. I know that I’m invested in Beka being right about Dale because I know she’ll be crushed that she’s been so sexual with someone who was her suspect all along. If that is true, of course, but the final reveal here? I agree with Beka: Dale does not act as a conspirator, but as a friend. We find out that Pearl’s folks who were bringing in the smuggled shipment of silver from their secret mine were arrested. Which… WHAT THE HELL. So, Lionel used Beka’s information??? I’ll put my prediction from the last video here, but I’m guessing that Sir Lionel is trying to stop the colemongering and take credit for it. I… think? That theory is full of holes, too, because it relies on Sir Lionel having the courage to stand up to Pearl, and I don’t know that he has it yet. Regardless, Dale leaves Beka behind as he goes off to buy better treatment for his friends once he realizes Pearl isn’t going to save them. But why wouldn’t she do anything??? We know she has bought Dogs there. If she’s really behind this, wouldn’t she want her silver? What does this mean? WHY AM I STILL SO CONFUSED ABOUT WHAT’S GOING ON?

This was designed to ruin me. IT WAS.

The original text contains use of the words “mad” and “stupid.”

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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