Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bloodhound - Tamora Pierce

Bloodhound: The Legend Of Beka Cooper #2
Tamora Pierce
Random House Children's Books
Copyright: 2009
9780375814693

From the cover of the book:

Beka Cooper is finally a Dog—a full-fledged member of the Provost’s Guard, dedicated to keeping peace in Corus’s streets. But there’s unrest in Tortall’s capital. Counterfeit coins are turning up in shops all over the city, and merchants are raising prices to cover their losses. The Dogs discover that gamblers are bringing the counterfeit money from Port Caynn. In Port Caynn, Beka delves deep into the gambling world, where she meets a charming banking clerk named Dale Rowan. Beka thinks she may be falling for Rowan, but she won’t let anything—or anyone—jeopardize her mission. As she heads north to an abandoned silver mine, it won’t be enough for Beka be her usual “terrier” self. She’ll have to learn from Achoo to sniff out the criminals—to be a Bloodhound. . . .

I've been waiting for this book since about November when I made the mistake of reading the teaser in Terrier, the first book in this series. I'll state right off that it was as good as I'd hoped for, although it was a moderately fast read. Still, it took me until midnight to finish it on Friday.

As the jacket says, the main crime issue in Bloodhound is counterfeit silver coins, and although this is a fictional book, I learned quite a bit about it that I'd never thought of. Yes, I knew it could destabilize an economy, but some of the other reasons for distributing counterfeits that the author goes into were completely new to me, such as to purposely destabilize a country.

I'd love to know what breed of dog is closest to the descriptions of Achoo, just so I have a better picture in my head. Anyone have any ideas?

Like Terrier, Bloodhound is somewhat slang heavy, which is distracting to start with, but it blends into the story after a while. Thank goodness for the glossary at the back though.

As with the previous book, Tamora Pierce has written this in the form of Beka's unedited journal, right down to blotches, crossed out spelling errors and Pounce's paw-prints. The last are, I think a particularly cute touch, stepping across the page.

Both Terrier and Bloodhound show a rougher side of Tortall than any of the other books set in this world so far. I'm wondering if that's because Beka is from the lowest classes and still works among them, or if it has more to do with the fact that the book is set several generations before the start of the Alanna Quartet and following books. The same is true of the Dogs. Were they still so casual about torture and bribery in Alanna's day? It makes a nice change though to not have the characters be among royalty and the noble classes as is typical of many fantasy novels.

There's plenty of excitement, and as with the Alanna books it's possible to see what a good Rogue can do for the city as well as how much damage can be done by a bad one. That's another neat difference with this series: the thieves and other 'undesirables' are shown as real characters with good points as well as bad ones, not to mention actually playing a positive role in the world Tamora Pierce has created.

The closest to this that I can think of is Skif from Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar world, and even so, he's gone (more or less) straight after he was Chosen.

Another good book from Tamora Pierce and one that's suitable for older teens as well as being a good read for adults. Were I rating books on this blog, I'd give it five stars.

According to Tamora Pierce's website, there is a third book, Mastiff due out next year some time.

Other reviews:
Angieville: Bloodhound
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