of dogs & mastiffs…

I have a vague recollection of having read some books by Tamora Pierce, when I was in my teens, but for all intents and purposes, let’s say I only starting reading her books recently. Several years ago, I was in the library, and taking a look around the young adult section. As I read books by Robin McKinley, J.K. Rowling, James A. Owen, Suzanne Collins, and a number of other authors, this wasn’t unusual. And I tripped over Trickster’s Choice and Trickster’s Queen. To be honest, one of the things that roped me in was the awesome cover art. I remember that clearly.

Never looking back, I wandered through a bookstore, one day, and found Tamora Pierce’s newest book (at the time), Terrier, Book 1 of The Legend of Beka Cooper. Again, the cover picture was part of the reason my attention was caught. But I’d read her books recently enough to know it had to be good. And if there’s a good blurb on the back, or inside cover, then you have to take that book home.

Several years later, Book 3, Mastiff, finally arrived in stores, and I was able to order it on my Kindle. And now, I’m a happy camper, even if the trilogy is now over.

The tale of Beka Cooper follows this young woman from the slums, though adopted into a noble household, as she makes her way in the Dogs of the city. The Dogs are the police force, and exposed to all the worst dregs of the city. But Beka came from there, and wants to learn and rise in rank, and help to bring in the criminals that make life difficult for everyone.

In addition to her natural tenacity, she has some additional skills, such as hearing snippets of conversation, left in the dust spinners, and hearing the voices of the dead, as they ride pigeon-back, until they’ve relieved themselves of what keeps them from going Beyond. And despite her extreme shyness that keeps her practically mute in public, she makes a bundle of interesting friends, including the city’s King of Thieves. As she’s paired with the unbeatable team of Goodwin and Tunstall, they all find that they have more to learn.

Mastiff was a surprise and a delight, but part of the ending crushed me. Yes, you can love a story and still feel heartbroken over something that happened in it. I don’t think I could ever have written it.

Right from the start, I loved the addition of the mage, Farmer Cape. His purposefully acting like a dimwit, at times, reminded me forcefully of Hugo, in The Unknown Ajax, by Georgette Heyer. Both of them have a ridiculous sense of humor, don’t mind being the butt of jokes, and purposefully let people think they’re an idiot, if it’s for the greater good. Or even the lesser good.

When I was reading Book 1 and 2, I hadn’t read the Alanna books, so I wasn’t even aware of who George Cooper was, at the time. The start of the first two books have an introduction to a young George, listening to tales of his ancestress. But it wasn’t until this last month that I know what part George Cooper plays in all of the other Tamora Pierce books that I’ve read. Because he’s part of the whole story.

If you like some fantasy and adventure, I think you’ll definitely enjoy the adventures of Beka Cooper. Cooper isn’t your ordinary heroine, not by a long shot.

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