Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce

Author: Tamora Pierce
Release Date: April 14, 2009
Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Rebekah “Beka” Cooper is now a Dog, a fully qualified member of Provost’s Guard, which is basically the police force in Corus, the capital of Tortall. Beka is a natural at Dog work, she’s observant and persistent, but her magical traits set her apart from the rest, she has the ability to gain information from the spirits that attach themselves to pigeons and the dust and dirt that swirl on the ground called dust spinners. These skills along with the help from the company she keeps make Beka a skilled Dog.

Beka has been a Dog for five months at this point, and her fourth partner has just decided to leave her, which sends her back to her (amusing) training Dogs, Tunstall and Goodwin. One her first day back with Tunstall and Goodwin, they learn of counterfeit silver coins being used throughout Corus, which begins their investigation on the subject. On the second day, the merchants raise their prices in order to cover their losses, which cause a riot in the Lower City. During the riot, Tunstall is injured and in trying to get him to safety, they meet a group of men from a security caravan, who turn out to be quite useful to them.

After the riots, it’s found that the counterfeit coins are being brought in by gamblers from Port Caynn and the Port Caynn Dogs don’t seem to be doing anything about it. With Tunstall on bed rest, Cooper and Goodwin are sent undercover to Port Caynn to try and locate where these fake coins are coming from and who is sending them out into the mainstream. Beka and Goodwin must explore the deep world of gambling and find the root of the problem, in a strange city.

Along the way, Beka sees Dale Rowan, a bank courier that sometimes works on the caravan, whim she met in the riot. Dale becomes more than just someone to help the women learn about the gambling places, and the eating houses that could help aid them, he becomes someone Beka really begins to like. He is handsome, buys her fine gifts, and becomes a bedmate for her, all in a matter of days. There is just enough romance that you almost want to root for him, but personally I am still rooting for her and Rosto, the Rogue of Corus.

With the help of the adorable Achoo, Beka’s new scent hound, Slapper, a hilarious pigeon that carries the voices of the dead, and their new friends from the riots, they have just the in they need to get their investigation started. Things finally start falling into place when Goodwin goes to Corus to report what they have so far. Once Goodwin is gone, things come together rather quickly for young Beka, and it is up to her alone, to keep it all from blowing up before help arrives. And it is up to Achoo to teach Beka that there is more to finding a criminal than the chase, and sometimes you have to sniff them out of their hiding place.

I love this story! It’s told very well, everything you read is written through Beka’s journal and despite the length of the book, the entire story covers just under three weeks. I didn’t read Terrier, the first book in the trilogy, but Bloodhound seems to stand on its own, with only a slight temporary confusion. Some of the terminology is quite different, but there is a dictionary in the back, along with a few other things that are quite helpful when it comes to keeping things straight. The cast of characters are quite colorful, and very interesting, particularly when Dogs, mages, thieves, and the Rogue not only live in the same lodgings, but also dine frequently together and intertwine themselves in each others lives as they do. It’s easy to see that despite what they all do for a living, they all care and respect each other as friends.

There are some aspects of the story that could become a little much for younger readers and I think I should state that Beka may only be 16 or 17, but in her time, that is classified as an adult. She deals in adult situations, there is crime, gambling, adult relationships, and violence, but nothing is told in explicit detail or anything like that. This is a story that I could totally recommend for almost anyone, male or female, teenager or adult. Either way, it is a good story and I for one, am waiting for the next book, Mastiff.

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