I was filled with glee when I got my advance readers copy of Bloodhound. I tore my way through Terrier as quickly as possible (and I’m glad I did), be...moreI was filled with glee when I got my advance readers copy of Bloodhound. I tore my way through Terrier as quickly as possible (and I’m glad I did), before I started on Bloodhound as soon as I was able.
Whilst waiting for Bloodhound to come out (and it has been a long wait) I would eagerly read all the news from Tammy about the progression of the book. I was a little dismayed to learn that Beka would be out of Corus and in Port Caynn, therefore away from all of those much loved characters from Terrier – Aniki, Kora, Rosto, Ersken, Tansy and et cetera. I also learned, while she would still be with Goodwin, Tunstall would be out of the picture with broken legs! However, it turns out (as it usually does), that my fears were unfounded and what I think sounds odd in summary turns out to be grand in actuality.
Bloodhound takes place sixteen months after Terrier, and the action happens over the course of (almost) three weeks. The book builds on what Terrier established. There are new words introduced into the language (one reason why re-reading Terrier before Bloodhound is such a good idea) as well as an expansion of Dog methodology. Bloodhound is one long hunt to resolve the issue of coles being filtered into the money stream, which are raising the prices of food and causing civil panic. There are some sterling action sequences in Bloodhound, making me feel like I was actually part of the riots and chases and also making me feel that poor Beka must have had some terrible hand cramps after her long stretches of diary and report writing! There is also significant time spent in Corus before the adventures ‘round Port Caynn begin, giving some quality moments with all of the well loved characters before we meet the new folk. Yes, the old faithful were keenly missed at some moments during Bloodhound, but this is good for both Beka and the reader (but mostly Beka, as we are selfish readers who want things Our Way!).
We are introduced to a vast quantity of new characters, mostly in Port Caynn but some in Corus too. The most notable addition is Atchoo, the scent hound who was mentioned in Terrier takes a leading role here (and once you read the book you will understand why the cover was changed to focus on her and leaves Pounce out). Atchoo is a fantastic partner for Beka, who adds to Beka’s skills set and resources as well as being a loyal and lovable companion (in the way that dogs are). Another of our new characters is Dale Rowan, a clever and likable cove who captures Beka’s affections and won over me too! Other new characters include the Port Caynn Rouge, her Rats and Port Caynn Dogs. As with Terrier, there are familiar family names in Bloodhound – watch out for a member of one particularly famous family who proves that insanity really did run in the family! I suspect that the majority of these characters we will never see again, but it’d be a crying shame if we didn’t see a few back in ‘Mastiff’ – or at the very least a mention of what they’ve been up to.
There are further explorations into things that have previously been touched on in the Tortall universe books – the female warriors of the temple of the Great Mother are featured in Bloodhound somewhat, providing welcome detail into something that was merely mentioned in passing in ‘Song of the Lioness’. The Dancing Dove is introduced, and I was pleased to note that the reasons behind its name have changed since the preview in the back of Terrier. Also, if anyone was still in any doubt, Pounce’s identity is confirmed once and for all. Beka’s magic also gets further explanation, which is welcome, and ties her to a particular god as she experiments with methods of using her magic. Her understanding and implementation of her magic is markedly improved from what it was in Terrier. It is these touches that make the book so vivid. They are woven into the story in such a way that they are part of the tapestry for the book itself and the larger Tortallan history. For those of us who are Tammy devotees this is an absolute delight and will enrich your knowledge of the Tortall world.
It was a hard trial to put the book down every time I had to, and once I got into the final stretch I simply could not put it down until I was finished. The plot is set up in such a way that it’s fairly obvious early on who is behind the cole-mongering. However, Tammy throws in something she’s become rather good at – making you feel that sense of empathy for the characters behind the very thing that Beka is racing to put a stop to. You don’t want it to be them, you want to be proven wrong and at the final turn you can understand why they took the actions they took, but you really wished they hadn’t. There is a rich layering of detail that makes such a complex plot believable.
Beka makes mistakes during the book (at one point I wanted to shake her for forgetting something); she also does remarkably astounding things too (she spends a lot of time traipsing through sewers, which made my stomach turn). I was pleased to see that alongside her natural aptitude for Dogging she is still learning how to be a Dog, they ways of people and the ways of the world. It humanises and humbles her, and I felt that she learned a lot from her experiences, both professionally and personally. By the end of the book several things fall neatly into place – how Beka’s partner problem is solved and also the set up for explaining why Lady Knights (and more gender equality across the board) exists in Beka’s time yet the mentality has changed by the time Alanna disguises herself and turns Tortall on its head. This will, I expect, be explored in ‘Mastiff’.
I’m very much looking forward to ‘Mastiff’ and the conclusion of the Legend of Beka Cooper, here’s to settling in for another Very Long Wait (although, mercifully, not as long as that between Terrier and Bloodhound)! (less)
This is a strange review for me, as I know the author. I tore through the book, it's a very easy and quick read - and worth the read, a good book.
For...moreThis is a strange review for me, as I know the author. I tore through the book, it's a very easy and quick read - and worth the read, a good book.
For the most part I liked it, I loved the lists, I loved the Sam's view of his family and I loved how he managed to achieve his wishes (in his own way) before the end. I had to suspend my belief a few times with this book as sometimes it just didn't feel to me like the voice of an eleven year old and it jarred me slightly. However, that was only occasional and for the most part it was bitter-sweetly charming.
It didn't quite make me cry, as I've heard so many times in relation to this book (and I'm a weeper!), but it did make me well up a little. I'm very much looking forward to Sally's next book however and seeing her progression as an author. Congrats Sally. :)(less)
The first time I read Terrier I thought it was some of Tammy's best writing in years and it quickly became one of my favourite Tortall books. I still...moreThe first time I read Terrier I thought it was some of Tammy's best writing in years and it quickly became one of my favourite Tortall books. I still feel that way after my latest re-read (in preparation for Bloodhound). Terrier feels fresh, and I attribute this reinvigoration of the Tortall world to several factors: - Firstly: Terrier is written in first person, which is the first of Tammy's novels to be written thus (Note: Tammy has written short stories in first person). - Secondly: it is written in a diary/journal style which is, again, a first (this time a total first for Tammy). Tammy writes the diary style well, giving a valid reason for it to be so detailed (to aid Beka’s Dog reports and memory retention) yet still retaining the realism of a diary (days when you skip writing, longer writings some days and less on others, and days where you play catch-up and fill in the events of several days). - Thirdly: it is set 200 years before any of the other Tortall stories have taken place, which allows for a certain freedom of expression, more than in other recent Tortall books. (A book set some time in the future of Tortall could also have this result, or in a different country – like the ‘Elder Brother’ and ‘Hidden Girl’ short stories.) - Fourthly: Tammy creates, in Beka, a character who is different from those leads that have come before, yet one who is still tied to the Tortall universe. - And fifthly: Terrier covers new ground with the exploration of an organisation that has been mentioned, but never explained in detail, and spending time with the every-day folk of Tortall. These people are a reflection of the people we are today. The combination of these first two points was, I feel, a challenge to Tammy’s writing which help prevent things from possibly become formulaic. And all of these points, combined, allow for a totally new experience in a familiar world.
Beka is a salt of the earth character. She’s another stylistic change, as she’s a commoner who was born and lives in the slums, and works and socialises with other common folk (unlike Daine, who starts out common but quickly rises in status by association). This is a breath of fresh air (even though I’m sure the stench of the lower city is not so fresh!) and allows Tammy to create a whole new linguistic style and a fantastic array of slang and curse words. The vocab is quite easy to pick up as you go along, especially if you’ve read other Tortall universe books as it builds on the cant of those common born supporting folk we’ve met in other books (e.g. Coram from ‘Song of the Lioness’ or Lalasa from ‘Protector of the Small’). The meanings of words are sometimes obvious (pox), clear from the inflection (mot/cove), clear in context (scummer) or an actual word that has just fallen out of everyday use (hobble). If you really need to know the meaning of something, or need a reminder, there is a handy little glossary in the back of the book (a useful feature in Tammy’s books for a long time now). I don’t find the language a hindrance at all, it enriches the text and makes it more real and textured as this is Beka’s own diary and she is writing with her language. I love the language and some of it has fallen into my everyday vocab (sarden), while other words were already there (poxy)!
The detective/mystery feel to the book also provide a new frame work for Tammy’s writing. The plot moves along at a steady pace, giving us clues here and there as Beka slowly pieces the case together through her work with her partners, her friends and her unusual informants. The resolution of the mystery, the ‘whodunit’, when it all falls into place is marvellous. It’s a bit of a surprise, a bit of a shock and a bit of a ‘oh, but I didn’t want it to be that person!’ (which Tammy proved she can pull off fantastically in ‘Cold Fire’, making one empathise with the ‘baddie’ and showing that the world isn’t just blacks and whites, goodies and baddies, heroes and villains).
Along with Beka we get to meet, and grow to love, a varied cast of supporting players. There are her partners, Goodwin and Tunstall; fellow Dogs Ersken, Verene and Phelan; and friends in Tansy, Kora and Aniki. There is also Rosto, the lovable rat, who is clearly on a path to become the Rouge. Yes, Tammy once again makes us fall in love with the Rouge (and Beka too, just a little bit). There is also one familiar and well loved character back – Pounce, also known as ‘Faithful’ in ‘Song of the Lioness’. He was always a favourite of mine and I was filled with glee to know he’d be back in this new trilogy. As Tammy’s books are now considerably longer and more fleshed out than when ‘Alanna: The First Adventure’ was published, Pounce has lots of room to become a more actualised character. Just what and who Pounce is becomes clearer in Terrier as things are alluded to. In other places of the narrative you find familiar family names popping up, which is fun to watch out for.
Terrier also builds on established mythology – George’s excellent memory that he inherited from his father (Beka’s side of the family) is shown here with her recall and observational skills. George’s peculiar magic (referred to as ‘the Sight’ in ‘Song of the Lioness’) is also explained somewhat, although not fully, as Beka has her own magic that proves invaluable for her Dog work (although her magic is apparently different to George’s). However, Beka’s magic is not explained fully either - although it is noted that it is a family gift that her father had too. These are nice touches that show the depth of thought that went into creating Beka and tie Terrier tidily into the larger Tortallan universe.
I’m so thankful that the world of children’s and young adult publishing has changed since ‘Song of the Lioness’ as it now gives us these more complex, and more rewarding, books. Terrier is both a self contained adventure story and a solid foundation for the following two books in the trilogy. The presentation of the book is beautiful – the cover photography by Jonathan Barkat, the Terrier stamped on the front board of the hardback edition, and the little touches and flourishes inside the book that personalise Beka’s diary. A must read for any Tammy fan and an excellent introductory book for anyone new to Tammy’s works.(less)