Tear off a piece of Pierce’s “Terrier”
By Kyra Smith-Cullen in Arts & Entertainment
March 29, 2012
As somebody who loves both fantasy and mystery, it is very hard for me to find a book that combines the two well. But with Tamora Pierce’s book, “Terrier”, I found a perfect match. Though the books are typically classified as teen fiction, it satisfies many things that an adult would look for: character development, a complex but still easy to follow plot, and vivid imagery that help bring the story to life.
The book, which has a very minor basis in another series of Pierce’s called “Song of the Lioness”, focuses on a 16 year old girl named Beka Cooper in a world styled lightly on late medieval England. She’s what is called a ‘Puppy’ in the Provost’s Guards (people who uphold the laws in the city) and is paired up with two older guards who can mentor her. There is a minor problem of keeping track of some of the terms used, but Pierce even thought of that; there’s a glossary at the back of book if you ever get lost.
Through a series of journal entries that give readers the chance to see things through Beka’s eyes, Pierce introduces a terrific supporting cast who can only be described as unconventional. Her mentors, Tunstall and Goodwin, are considered to be some of the best in the district because of how long they’ve survived the merciless job, but they’ve learned to adapt and protect each other. Then there are Kora, Aniki and Rosto, newcomers who all earn their living as thieves, who put Beka in the cautious position of being their friends while knowing that she might one day have to arrest them. The visible villain, a man named Crookshanks, is another twist in the story. He’s a man who needs help, but is responsible for the deaths of so many people that nobody really wants to.
But Beka’s connections to the thieves’ ends up being very useful for the plot, because the mysteries she’s uncovered are ones that were either ignored by guards or were never reported. There’s no evidence to go on, so they have to rely solely on what others tell them and ferret out the truth. One of my biggest issues with the plot is that it has an overused theme -nobody caring enough about the poorest people in the city to notice when they start to go missing. Pierce manages to put her own spin on it and make it seem less cliché.
So if you have free time, and you’re looking for a good book to read, I definitely suggest “Terrier”, and its sequels.