Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Review: Terrier by Tamora Pierce

Terrier by Tamora Pierce
Series: Beka Cooper #1
Genre: Fantasy/Mystery (YA)
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In 246 H.E., the Provost's Dogs guard Tortall's capital city. Beka Cooper is one of their newest trainees - a Puppy wet behind the ears but eager to learn. But Beka will have to learn faster than she bargained for because she's assigned to the Lower City, Corus's toughest district. It's filled with pickpockets who are fast as lightening, rouges who will knock your teeth out with a smile, and murderers with hidden plans. In the constant battle for the Lower City's streets, Beka will have to use her smarts and her own eerie brand of magic if she hopes to survive. (from Goodreads)

Well, that was unexpected. Now, I don't know what, exactly, I expected, but it wasn't this.

Okay, ever since I started reading young adult fantasy, I've heard the name Tamora Pierce. (Actually, I'd been hearing it before that, but I always thought she was a mystery writer.) I'd heard the talk of Alanna. Seriously, who hasn't? I knew I was going to eventually read a book by her. Enter another blogger, who mentioned a character in Terrier in the same sentence as a certain roguish pirate from Once Upon A Time. So, much to no ones surprise, I decided to read this book.

I bought the book, picked it up and flipped through it. The first thing I noticed was the first person perspective - something that I somewhat hate. The second thing I noticed was the diary format. Then I noticed the second journal entry of someone besides Beka (of which there's three at the beginning of the book) and the first sentence of that entry says: 'My hart is the betur for this day.'

Let's just say, it was with some trepidation that I started this book.

There is a steep learning curve at the start, with all the characters and place names that you have to remember, plus figuring out and remembering what words like 'mot' 'cove' and 'glims' mean. (There is a glossary in the back, but not all the unusual words are there.) But, I love fantasy, sometimes just for this very reason. Memorize dozens of people, places, gods and nations? No problem. Especially if they're interesting.

And let me tell you, these characters are so interesting and even more fun. Beka is amazing. (Is it okay that I've got a little crush on her?) She's really shy, can't even look strangers in the eye to talk to them - but she's got this inner drive and fire that is just amazing. The book is aptly named Terrier, as anyone that's been around the little dogs will tell you. And she's tall - five-eight, in fact. I love it that's she's not this thin little waif that a strong wind could blow over. (But if I have to hear one more thing about what her 'tripes' are doing, I might scream.)

The other characters are just as endearing, whether they be Dogs, Puppies or something on the other side of the law. Beka gathers an odd mix of them to her, befriending 'rushers' and - horror of horrors - putting them to work for the Dogs. It's a sad state that, while I'm talking about her friends, I want to make note of how many girl friends she's got. It really shouldn't be that unusual to find a strong girl in ... well, any book, actually, that also has strong girls as friends. It's sad that it is, but makes this book stand out all the more.

The plot was much more of a mystery - kind of a crime procedural - than I was expecting. It's really difficult for me to talk about this without spoilers. There's two crimes Beka in investigating, one concerning groups of dead Lower City denizens and the other the kidnapping and ransom demands of dozens of children by a criminal taking on the moniker of old legends. The resolutions really were not that surprising, but they were sure fun to read about.

And for those that care, Rosto is a bit like Hook. *Whistles innocently*