Rowan's Reviews > Bloodhound

Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce
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Apr 01, 10

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, ya, fiction, feminism, lgbtq
Read in April, 2009

** spoiler alert ** I am a HUGE Tamora Pierce fan, and have been for about 17 years now. There is no author writing fantasy geared at teenage girls that I love half so much as I love this woman. After more than 25 years of writing and 25 books, Tammy still manages to surprise and impress me with her wry, no-nonsense approach to juvenile fantasy. Her teenage heroines specialise in kicking ass and taking names, and while they like their men, no one will accuse them of being unable to take care of themselves. Beka Cooper is no exception.

In Bloodhound, the second of the trilogy, Beka has begun her first year as a Dog (essentially, a cop) in the pseudo-Medieval fantasy kingdom of Tortall. She's 17, unable to find a decent working partner, and someone is flooding the country's coinage with counterfeits. Tammy has made the bold choice in this book of removing Beka to an unfamiliar city (both for her and for the reader) to track the culprits, separating our heroine from most of the cast of characters we met in the previous book, including her magical pet cat, on whom Beka has come to rely a little too heavily. My favourite addition to the cast is Achoo, a scent hound whom Beka adopts when she is mistreated by her previous handler.

One of the things I especially love about Tammy's books is that morality is rarely black-and-white; thieves live by their own code, and can often become friends or lovers of Dogs without anyone batting an eye. As long as everyone plays by the rules -- written or not -- everything works fine.

Sex is also dealt with frankly (but never explicitly) in this book -- more baldly, perhaps, than in any of Tammy's previous books. Beka takes for a lover a man she barely knows, fully aware that their affair must, perforce, be a brief one. The romance is almost incidental to the plot, and her new lover takes little part in the action of the book. Beka's love-life takes second place to her main focus: Her job. She and the new man enjoy their time together, and part on good terms, though Beka is saddened when she knows she must leave. Beka's romance with Rosto, her flame from the previous book, is left on the back burner, and we barely see him, though he is frequently in Beka's thoughts.

This is also the first time we get an explicitly gay character in a major role in one of Tammy's Tortall books. Usually, her characters' sexualities are only hinted at -- because, as Tammy says, her books are not "about that" -- but now we have Nestor, Beka's friend and superior officer, who we are told is gay the first time we meet him. We also meet his companion, a male-to-female transexual named Okha, who works as a singer in a tavern, and has ties to the city's criminal element. Both of them are well-thought-of by the other characters in the book, reflecting a very open-minded society.

All in all, an excellently-written story, though I don't yet love Beka as much as I love Alanna. Highly recommended for ages 12 and up.
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