… the girl who joined the Provost’s Guards? In Tamora Pierce’s Terrier*, Beka Cooper is just starting her training as a “Puppy” with the “Dogs” in the Provost’s Guards. She has wanted to be a Dog most of her life, even though it is hard, dangerous work. Helping the people of her city, particularly the Lower City where she was born, is Beka’s dream though, and she will stop at nothing to reach that dream. Not even the death of a friend, her own injury and humiliation, and a riot will stand in her way.
Terrier is written as a collection of diary entries where Beka chronicles her experiences and actions as a trainee. She describes her friends (both guards and rogues), surroundings, and activity in great detail as training for doing reports. Beka has been assigned to the Lower City, the area where some of the poorest and roughest people live. It is a dirty, dangerous place, filled with cruelty and hardship but also remarkable beauty and kindness that are all the more precious for being rare. Beka needs all of her skills and abilities, plus a touch of magic, to survive her first few months of training.
Tamora Pierce is an excellent storyteller. She brings Beka’s world to life with deft descriptions and an unflinching look at what can happen in a slum. Even minor characters are three-dimensional, with motivations that are explained from the viewpoint of someone who grew up in this rough neighborhood and understands the people who live there. Terrier is a wonderful fantasy with action, intrigue, and very strong female characters.
* The second book in the series is Bloodhound.
Reviewed by Fran (staff)