In the twenty-fourth part of Bloodhound, I was left nearly breathless by this damn book, AND I’M STILL NOT EVEN TO THE BIG CONFRONTATION. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Bloodhound.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of violence, blood, and gore
THE FINAL SCENES OF THIS BOOK ARE SO GOOD, OH MY GOD.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a part of Tammy’s books that so rapidly jumps right into chaos. Gershom’s group bursts into the court, and THERE IS FIGHTING LITERALLY EVERYWHERE. Since we see this all through Beka’s eyes, we get a very personal look at the physical toll that all this fighting takes on a Dog. This first scene alone is exhausting, and then when we get to the actual hunt? IT IS TOO MUCH. But Beka can’t think too far into the future here because of the urgency of the fight in the Riverside court. It felt like one of those scenes in a video game where a swarm of baddies are released onto the protagonist. Beka moves from one Rat to the next while Achoo does everything in her power to not only protect Beka, but compliment her fighting:
Achoo was expert at ripping a striking arm or a kicking foot. She had a good eye for my own attacks and never got in my way. She saved me from more than one knife. I promised myself, if I lived, that I would get her the meatiest bone I could find, climbing prices or no.
And really, you cannot divorce Achoo from this narrative at all. She as much of an important character as Beka is, and later, we’ll see how the title of the book truly represents their work.
THEN THERE’S GERSHOM BEING A CASUAL BADASS AND ENGAGING IN A SHORT CONVERSATION BEFORE BRUTALLY KILLING A RUSHER. Favorite moment or favorite moment??? Unfortunately, this is pretty much the last moment of joy or elation in this chapter because it’s right about here that Pierce decides that I have not had enough of her brand of terror. Y’all, this is SO. GODDAMN. INTENSE. Beka is the first one to figure out that the guards encircling the dais are a decoy meant to trick everyone into believing that Pearl is being protected. BUT SHE’S LONG GONE. OH GOD, SHE’S NOT THERE. Even though Gershom’s forces manage to nab all the Rats and gain control of the court, this marks the point where Pierce continues to ruin my life.
The title of this book has always been an obvious thing, but it’s in this long, exhausting, and brilliantly-written sequence that we understand that Bloodhound was always working towards this moment. After gaining control, the Dogs tell the hobbled Rats why their leader is being pursued, and after Flory convinces them, I HAD TO LAUGH AT HOW QUICKLY THEY ALL GAVE PEARL UP. Beka is initially disappointed (though not nearly as much as Achoo!) that due to her inexperience, she is being asked to sit out on the hunt for Pearl Skinner. BUT CLEARLY, PIERCE COULD NOT LET THIS BE SO. And the way she drags Beka into this is SO UNSETTLING. Does that mean Jurji was always there, hiding in plain sight? Or did Jurji arrive after the raid started? Whatever it was, it creates a terrible choice for Beka to make after Hanse, riding on Slapper, warns Beka about the hidden guards’ presence. AND THEN JURJI CHOPS SLAPPER IN HALF. OH, FUCK YOU, JURJI. FUCK YOU.
It’s so sad to me because Beka doesn’t even get to give Slapper a proper burial. But that’s the point here: Beka has very, very, very little time to make a decision. Does she allow Achoo to chase the scent? If she does, how can she tell her superiors? Is it worth the risk? Beka gambles, reason that if she tells Ersken to pass along a message to Goodwin, she can at least get a head start. Still, Pierce refuses to ignore the fact that this decision – while courageous – is incredibly dangerous and impractical. It’s something that’s openly acknowledged in the text, and I actually found it to be super refreshing to read. Beka is not naïve or poorly trained, and she can even admit that her chase of Jurji is emotionally motivated.
That doesn’t make this less terrifying, for the record. It makes it worse, since Beka is constantly thinking about the fact that she is on this hunt alone. What is she going to do if she catches up to Jurji or the two disguised guards? She doesn’t have a plan, honestly, and she’s hoping that Goodwin reaches her before she catches up to anyone. And that’s a pretty terrible plan to have, you know? But with Achoo leading the way, Beka presses on. Despite that her whole body is telling her to stop, Beka herself has the scent, too. It’s such a beautiful sequence because Beka and Achoo are completely in sync while on the hunt, and it demonstrates how well they work together. And I can’t forget that Beka never got formal training with Achoo, and Achoo came from an abusive owner. Through all of this, they still grew close. I love it. SO MUCH.
The House / The Confrontation
Part of the suspense of this part of Bloodhound is rooted in the possibility that Beka and Achoo will succeed in tracking down Jurji or the guards. We want that because we want these people to be brought to justice, sure. But I was frightened that they’d catch up to their hunt without any back up. How was Beka supposed to take on three fighters? Jurji alone would be bad enough, no?
I thought that Jurji would be in the town house that Achoo led Beka to, so I was nervous as hell as Beka took the risk and began to demand that the door be opened. I half expected Jurji himself to tumble out, but when he didn’t and Beka LOCKED HERSELF INSIDE, I thought that she was going to have to fight everyone INDOORS. Which could be good, but mostly, IT SCARED ME. (What didn’t scare me here??? NOTHING. EVERYTHING DID.) But as it turns out, Beka was still a good fifteen minutes behind her target. Which is casually revealed to be Pearl Skinner. PEARL SKINNER JOINED UP WITH JURJI.
GREAT. GREAT, THIS WILL GO SUPER WELL. WHERE IS GOODWIN?
I think it speaks volumes about the seriousness of colemongering that as soon as Beka threatens the servants inside with a conspiracy charge, they give up as much information as possible. I don’t know if they were sending Beka into a trap, though. It’s possible, given who she meets in that hidden passage, which is something I didn’t consider because… WELL, I WAS VERY SHOCKED.
Two rushers and Torcall Jupp stood there. Jupp held Achoo by her collar, forcing her back on her heels so she could not lunge. He twisted her collar so she could not bite.
I genuinely thought it could not get more shocking than his surprise appearance. You may laugh at my unpreparedness.
“I would have killed that one for you, too, had you given me a moment,” he said, not looking at me. “I was trying to spare you the added exertion.”
“What?” I asked him, panting. I felt plain addled. “What?”
“I was entirely prepared to kill both of them for you,” he repeated. “I have had enough of Pearl’s disasters.”
SO, LOOK. It’s been totally fascinating to see how many people have turned on Pearl when given the chance. Hanse, Steen, many of the hobbled Rats, and now Torcall Jupp reveals that he, too, is done with Pearl Skinner. It’s a demonstration of what I picked up on before: Pearl has no sense of loyalty. Now, though, it’s leading towards her downfall. (I hope??? I DON’T WANT HER TO GET AWAY.) The people she mistreated for years are turning on her. Jupp in particular betrays her by giving Beka ONE OF HER PEARL TEETH, which provides the most effective magical scent possible. Y’ALL. Y’ALL!!!
“Thanks for the help,” I said awkwardly. “And the tooth.”
He grinned. It made him look ten years younger. “The pleasure was mine. Pearl has backhanded me on a number of occasions. Lately she has paid me with purses full of coles. This is how I express my gratitude. Good hunting, young bloodhound.”
I’m so done.
Nope, no I’m not, because Tamora Pierce had one last surprise waiting for me, and it’s the most brutal thing in the book yet. The scent that Achoo picks up from Pearl’s tooth leads to a gated home where Beka discovers a horrific scene of murder that shows her just how desperate Pearl is. Pearl, Zolaika, and Jurji brutally execute an entire household just to get the Harbormaster’s Seal so that they can get on a boat out of Port Caynn. It’s massively, massively disturbing. Maids, manservants, guards… all of them are killed so as to leave no witnesses. And once again, Beka is left with a choice: chase after Pearl and her guards or seek out help. Knowing that they may be soon on a ship out of the city, Beka chooses the more dangerous option because she can’t risk letting them escape. She can risk her own life, though, and now I am utterly terrified of how this is going to end. WHERE IS GOODWIN, Y’ALL?
The original text contains use of “mad.”
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