In the twenty-second part of Bloodhound, this really felt like everything ever happened all at once. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Bloodhound.
I AM IN AWE, HOLY SHIT.
Nestor making his SERIOUS FACE because this is a SERIOUS ISSUE and EVERYTHING IS SERIOUS. But y’all, as much as I jest about this, I could tell some shit was about to go down because at no point did Nestor freak out about Okha or express any sort of shock about him? Understandably so, given that the big raid on Pearl’s colesmithing equipment comes after this. I would like a scene between the two of them at some point, you know? Of course, this all comes under the assumption that Okha had to tell Nestor about what he’d been doing for Pearl, and it’s entirely possible that he still hasn’t told. OH LORD. For now, though, I was struck by how fascinating it was to see him in action during these journal entries. This is the first time we’ve seen him do any Dog work, and it’s exhilarating.
What an absolutely gut-wrenching reveal. Master Finer died of a heart attack and it happened before Beka even found out he’d been arrested. There was nothing Beka could have ever done to save him. So who was responsible for his arrest? Pearl? Sir Lionel? BECAUSE I AM DONE WITH YOU, WHOMEVER YOU ARE.
There were a number of reasons I was so nervous and excited as Nestor led a group of Dogs to raid Pearl’s secret colesmithing room. Obviously, there was the constant threat that they’d get caught, and despite that Beka made it in and out of that place before, it’s not like Nestor had Pearl’s spy or that girl’s older brother. Sure, there were more of them, but at this point, I’m sure Pearl and her minions are volatile. Were Nestor and his people ready to take on someone who had everything to lose? What if Pearl had discovered that someone had been in the Eagle Street court? What if there were traps that Beka didn’t know about? WHAT IF THERE WAS NOTHING IN THE SECRET ROOM? WHAT IF THERE WAS SOMEONE IN ONE OF THE OTHER SECRET ROOMS? What if I was so frightened by this because I’ve become accustomed to Tamora Pierce ruining my life at every opportunity???
I think the shocking thing here is that the raid goes without a single hitch. Aside from being unable to take the forge, since that was physically impossible, they get everything. EVERYTHING. At the end of the day, the good guys got some shit done, and now, all that was left was to wait. But for what? We still didn’t know how long it would take for Goodwin to arrive with reinforcements. And Beka wonders in her journal how Pearl is going to react to the raid. There are so many possibilities! Chaos? Retaliation? I don’t see Pearl as the kind of person to just give up, so I imagine that whenever she does react, it’s going to be a nightmare.
I think that Pierce is brilliant to reveal what she does here through Hanse and Steen because it undercuts the chance for Pearl to make some villainous monologue explaining her motivations later in the book. She may try, but now Beka has the real truth. She knows why Pearl led the colesmithing and, surprisingly, how Hanse played a huge part in that.
This was also such a surreal scene because I don’t think Beka has ever interacted through the pigeons with someone she knew so personally. It was strangely sad, despite that Steen and Hanse were undeniably part of something horrific. They were dead because Pearl sacrificed them immediately. And it speaks to her sense for loyalty, which is non-existent. She thought only about her own gain and her own future. But that wasn’t a shocker. This was:
“Have you any idea why Pearl is doing the colemongering? What she hopes to gain from drowning the city in coles?”
“Oh, that was my idea. Pearl’s got her gain already.”
………….. HANSE WAS THE MASTERMIND??? WHAT? But… BUT WHY? Why? The narrative here is so compelling because, through Beka, Pierce doesn’t turn the focus away from the sheer absurdity of this plan. That’s been central to the book; most of the characters who have been faced with the reality of the coles have outright questioned why anyone would willingly sink the economy with coles when it would inherently ruin their lives as well. I missed the clue a few sections ago when Dale revealed that Hanse had been in the military, but still. STILL. THIS IS SO MESSED UP. Hanse had no plans to ever stop making coles, and if it weren’t for his death, he’d still be doing it. AND HOW ABOUT THIS REVEAL:
“And I can’t believe Dale was crackbrained enough to agree to this.”
“He wasn’t,” Steen replied. “There was a colemonger a couple year back – Dale reported ‘im. So we never brung Dale in on it.”
SWEET GODS, WHAT A RELIEF. WHAT A RELIEF. And this moment is short-lived, since Hanse then finally details why he would do something so disastrous: revenge. He wanted revenge for being cast out of the military after he’d devoted most of his youth to the crown. And there’s definitely a quiet commentary on the way soldiers are treated here. We know that Hanse struck an officer who was terrible, and because of it, the army took everything away from him. But Pierce, while giving Hanse a sympathetic story, doesn’t ignore that this is still a terrible, terrible thing that he’s done. It’s through Steen’s rejection of Hanse’s act that the text codes his choice as an awful one, and it’s a very important part of this section. He even admits that he is feeling some regret for what he’s done:
“Truth to tell, it’s not so amusin’, destroyin’ the realm. Not when you look at it from this side of things.”
This book is unreal, y’all. I love it so much.
The final scene here, though, is a set-up for what’s to come. Nestor frantically gets Beka on a horse (WHICH IS A HILARIOUS SEQUENCE) because of something. It’s not until Beka and Nestor arrive at a countinghouse near Riverside that the reality of the chaos waiting for them is revealed. Actually, I don’t want to ignore the guards around the piles of grain sacks, because not only has the cavalry arrived, but now there’s the threat of a riot. BUT THE CAVALRY HAS ARRIVED, THIS IS ALL THAT MATTERS:
Then I recognized some of them: Ersken and his partner, Birch. Nyler Jewel and his partner, Yoav.
EVERYTHING IS RIGHT WITH THE WORLD. I cannot wait to keep reading because what on earth will Goodwin say to Beka. Bless this book forever.
The original text contains use of the word “mad/madness.”
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