Tuesday Reads: Terrier by Tamora Pierce

terrierIf you don’t read Tamora Pierce, you really should. She’s one of the best authors of fantasy out there, and not just because of awesome stories and characters. Her world building is amazing, she researches everything to make sure she gets her details right on weaponry, costuming, etc., and she’s pretty fantastic about sex and body positivity in her books. Alanna, the protagonist of her first quartets, has sex, like, a lot. With various guys. Pre-marriage. And it’s just kind of how it is. It’s what she chooses to do with her own body and that’s all there is to it. You don’t see that a lot in YA. (Alanna is also short and stocky and generally awesome.)

I have a bit of a writer crush on Tamora Pierce, is what I’m getting at. I’ve been working my way through her books, and have recently started the Beka Cooper trilogy. This is the first of her books to be written in a journal format, and I admit I was a little wary. I have trouble with journal format because it always seems unrealistic to me. How could someone possibly remember all these details and write them down so faithfully? However, in Terrier, I was able to buy that since Beka is training to be a Dog (a sort of cop), she’s trying to exercise her mind and be able to remember all these details. It’s an important part of her job. Additionally, there are multiple entries where Beka essentially says, “Yeah, screw this today,” and only writes a few sentences, or skips multiple days entirely. For me, that helped it feel more realistic.

One of my favorite things about Tamora is, as I mentioned above, her world building and her dedication to detail. This comes through especially well in Terrier. There’s a whole new dictionary of slang to learn that Beka doesn’t teach you (since she knows it already and wouldn’t need to write it down, obviously), and though you can look it up in an included glossary, I found I didn’t need to. I really love being thrown into a world and learning about these things through context, and Terrier is set up very well for that sort of reading experience. There’s also a new social dynamic to learn about – that between the Dogs, the Puppies (Dogs in training), and the people they serve. For instance, it’s very common for Dogs to take bribes for information, etc. The first time it’s offered to her, Beka refuses, and, of course, as a reader, you cheer for her resistance to corruption. But here’s the thing – bribery isn’t a sign of corruption in this dynamic. It’s a valuable resource. Bribes help out all the Dogs, and help to build relationships in the community (even, yes, the criminal community). If you’re a big fan of law-abidance as we know it, this may be a struggle for you. I found it rather refreshing and got really into it.

I’ve yet to meet a Tamora heroine that I don’t adore, but my heart’s always lingered with Alanna. I think Beka might challenge Alanna for her place, though. She’s strong, intelligent, and determined – and also really shy. She has trouble with just talking to her Dogs. It’s her big weakness, and I can totally relate. She has to struggle to overcome it and often only does when there’s something far more important on her mind to distract her from the anxiety of social interaction. In her own journal, though, she’s not afraid to speak her mind, and her insights into herself and those around her are always fascinating.

Overall, yet another wonderful book from Tamora Pierce. I’ll be reading the next two in the trilogy as soon as I can.

Favorite Quote: “Cats must always be cats, even when they are gods, or constellations.”

Medium: library e-loan on Kindle

Stars: 4/5

3 thoughts on “Tuesday Reads: Terrier by Tamora Pierce

  1. I found that I always ended up in the Fantasy section of whatever local library I was near at the time… Problem is Tamora Pierce’s collection was indimidating to get started on. No doubt she did something right, but reading one book meant reading five or else… Why bother?
    This is how I got started on The Edge Chronicles. I first though it was a single book but boy was I proven wrong. In time I came to know the series as a competitor for the Discworld books. All the weird, awesome, fantastical world building of Terry Pratchett but without making it sound cutesy. If something sounds dangerous it will most likely kill you,

    This post is probably unrelated, but Tamora Pierce reminded me of these books and it is my hope that I can inspire you.

    • Most of Tamora’s books are in quartets, but some are in trilogies or duos. They’re all connected by the same world setting and there are many recurring characters, but you can read any quartet/trilogy/duo in any order that you want and be just fine. They all have their own solid plot.

      I, however, have been going chronologically by publication date, starting with her Tortall books. After I finish those, there’s the Circle of Magic books, which are similarly organized but set in another world.

  2. I would venture to say that it’s kind of difficult to figure out my favorite series/character by Tamora Pierce. She just gives me warm fuzzies inside. I started out with Daine in the Immortals series so I’m a bit biased there, but I love Alanna. I make it a point to reread her series somewhat often (like I do with Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series).

    I somewhat recently read the Beka Cooper series, but this really makes me want to reread it again.

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