Book Review: Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce

Posted December 3, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

Book Review: Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce
Series: , Tortall #2
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Published by Random House on April 14, 2009
Pages: 554
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

Buy on Amazon
Also in this series: Terrier

Beka Cooper is no longer a Puppy. She's a Dog now - a full-fledged member of the Provost's Guard, which keeps the peace in Corus's streets. Beka's natural skills of observation and tenacity are augmented by her unusual magical talents, which allow her to gather information both from pigeons are from the eddies of dirt and dust that swirl on street corners. But even her magic isn't very useful when unrest comes to Tortall's capital in the form of counterfeit coins, which turn up in shops all over the city. Merchants raise prices to cover their losses, and with winter coming on, hikes in food and fuel costs could spell disaster - most of all for the city's poor.

The Dogs discover that gamblers are bringing the counterfeits from Port Caynn - and that the Port Caynn Dogs don't seem to be doing anything about it. Beka and her mentor, Clary Goodwin, are chosen to go undercover in Port Caynn and find out what they can. And wherever Beka goes, so do some of her animals. Departing from Corus with her are the scent hound Achoo, who has been newly assigned to Beka, and the pigeon Slapper, who carries the voices of the dead.

In Port Caynn, Beka and Goodwin delve deep into the gambling world. There Beka meets a charming bank courier, who may be involved in the counterfeiting ring. Things come to a head just as Goodwin returns home to report in Corus. It won't be enough to Beka to be her usual "terrier" self. She'll have to learn from Achoo to sniff out the criminals - to be a bloodhound.

Also by this author: Terrier, Mastiff, Sandry's Book, Tris's Book, Daja's Book, Briar's Book, Magic Steps, Street Magic, Cold Fire

Second in the Beka Cooper fantasy series for middle-grade readers and revolving around Beka Cooper who has wanted to be a Dog since she was eight years old. The story unfolds in 247 HE and begins in Corus, the capital city of Tortall, but quickly moves to Port Caynn.

My Take
Beka’s frustrated on two levels: lousy partners and dreaming of Rosto’s kisses. Fortunately, she has her regular breakfast routine with Rosto, Aniki, Kora and Ersken, Phelan, and sometimes Tansy keeping her sane.

Yeah, I don’t get that. Counterfeit coins are flooding the markets, an action so serious that even passing coles without knowing you are, is considered a heinous crime. And those in power are refusing to act. Heck, they’re refusing to acknowledge that there’s a problem! Why wouldn’t businessmen and bankers not say something to either the king or the Dogs about counterfeit coins?

It’ll take outside action, and in the course of it, Beka will learn Goodwin’s back history, have a love affair, and learn to do without Pounce.

“‘She has all those delightful, feminine skills I lack.’

‘But she can’t whack a Rat with a longsword like you,’ he said, and kissed my lady’s fingertips.”

Speaking of back history, we learn why Lady Teodorie hates Beka. I can see her point, even though I disagree with my lady.

Is that instruction from Lord Gershom a loose thread? The one where he insists that one of them hand-carry a report to him once a week? Or has it not been even a week that Beka and Goodwin are there? How is Okha kissing Nestor in their own home kissing in public?

Dale is having a rough time of it. He’s trying to court Beka, and she doesn’t know how to deal with it. She is attracted, but all her first reactions are not conducive to romance. It’ll be a hard, though lovely lesson, for this particular Dog.

Meanwhile, in the primary story, whew… You would not believe how awful things are in Port Caynn. And it only gets worse when an innocent family is arrested and Beka tries to get them justice. Sir Lionel’s idea of justice is torturing Beka and then having her sent to an underground prison!

I gotta say, Beka has some brass ones for her choice of refuge. Especially when Ives reports. Hoo, boy. Lucky for Beka she’s a decent sort who remembers what it’s like to be hungry.

There are some interesting comparisons of Rosto with Pearl. She doesn’t come off well, and he serves as a template for who Beka would choose to replace Pearl. Seems part of a Rogue’s duty is to lay in grain and oil to bide his or her people over a bad season. I’ll be curious to read Mastiff to see how Rosto carries on through the coming winter. Oh, wait, crap. I just read a few reviews about Mastiff, and I am so NOT liking what I’m reading. It’s the end of the series!!! How can Pierce do this? It’s not fair… Now I don’t know if I want to read it or not. If I read it, the series is over with…

Other than that whine, I really can’t find much of anything negative to say about this story. It’s brilliant and so well-written. Pierce definitely gives you value for money with almost 600 pages of excellent reading and fabulous characters with some scary red herrings and several twists that will have you racing through the pages.

The Story
Our Beka’s in trouble. Her reports are less than stellar, she goes through more partners in a month than most in a year, and she’s frustrated.

She’s not the only one in trouble. Since Phelan quit the Dogs, Achoo has been transferred from handler to handler with each getting worse and worse.

Then there’s the people. Yep, the people of Tortall are all in trouble, for coles are being passed into circulation and rumors about the poor harvest are just getting started.

The Provost and the Dogs must nip the counterfeiters before the harvesters return to the city and panic breaks loose. What’s complicating matters is the Gold- and Silversmiths Guilds aren’t reporting any problems nor are the banks. And Nestor from Port Caynn needs outside help.

Outside help that gets an inside assist when Cooper and Goodwin meet up with a new acquaintance. They’d better hurry, as people are beginning to flee.

The Characters
Rebakah “Beka” Cooper is a Dog, a young dog (seventeen years old!), almost a Puppy in fact. Pounce is her purple-eyed cat who claims to be a constellation, not a god, thank you very much. Together, they live in Mistress Trout‘s lodging house in Nipcopper Close along with Rosto, Aniki, and Kora.

Flocks of pigeons (they’re the Black God’s messengers) await Beka’s arrival with their stale bread; they carry the ghosts of the dead who babble away to Beka with information about their deaths. The clubfooted Slapper seems to be their leader. A mean little thing, he likes to slap and bite our Beka. Dust spinners exist on different corners, gathering up any conversation near them, holding it until someone comes to relieve them of the weight of it. That someone is Beka who brings them a taste of other parts of the city in exchange. Hasfush was the first one from whom she learned to gather conversations.

Family includes Granny Fern, her dad’s mother, and the woman who taught her how to use this family magic. Cousin Philben works as a carter and has a wife, Delene, and four kids. He’s a good man, always helps his granny. Beka has two sisters and two brothers: Diona is a good lady’s maid, thinks Beka is trash; Lorine is becoming a favored clothes designer; Willes is already a trusted messenger; and, Nilo is training horses.

Jane Street Kennel…
…is in the Lower City, a rough watch district in Corus. Sir Acton of Fenrigh, Commander of the Evening Watch is Beka’s own commander. Sir Vannic haMinch is the District Commander for the Lower City and Watch Commander for the Day Watch. Kebibi Ahuda is the watch sergeant and the training master in combat. Corporal Karel takes over for her when necessary. Sir Tullus is the Magistrate who rules on Evening Watch cases and has a soft spot for our Beka and her shyness. Master Sholto is Sir Tullus’ healer; Sir Tullus likes to know that those Dogs who claim to be sick to avoid appearing in his Court really are sick.

Silsbee is Beka’s new partner, her fourth in five months, and he is about to request a new partner. Beka’s too eager for him.

The serious Dogs on the Evening Watch include Senior Dog Matthias Tunstall (he likes to garden) and his partner, Corporal Clara “Clary” Goodwin, who are considered the best; Senior Corporal Nyler Jewel and Yoa; Ersken Westover was a fellow Puppy and friend, and now he’s partnered with Birch. Corporal Greengage is one of the Dogs at the Bread Riot. One pair of Dogs, Tillyard and Marks, both veterans, aren’t marked up at all the day after the riot.

Senior Dog Ercole Hempstead is the new handler for Achoo Curlypaws, Phelan’s former scent hound. And he’s all wrong. Elmwood is another of the Corus scent handlers.

Lord Gershom of Haryse is the Lord Provost in charge of all the Dogs; he took in Beka and her family some nine years ago when she helped him bust the Bold Brass gang. Lady Teodorie is his wife, and she hates the Dogs, especially Beka. Mya is the head cook at my lord’s and Beka’s foster aunt, who has looked after the Cooper family since their cart rolled in.

Lady Sabine of Macayhill is a lady knight who has hooked up with Tunstall, strictly on a fun basis. Zia is the maid at Tunstall’s house. Although, Tunstall has bought a house… Master Tomlan is Goodwin’s good husband, a master carpenter, whom she loves very much. He’s a good cook, too! It also appears that anyone and everyone relaxes in his presence.

Tansy Lofts is Beka’s oldest friend; they grew up in Mutt Piddle Lane together. Tansy is married to Herun, old Crookshank’s grandson, and they, along with Herun’s mother, Annis, have worked hard to get rid of the old man’s crooked businesses. Joy is the new baby and Beka’s godsdaughter.

Baker Garnett now has guards to protect his silver, and he tests every silver coin that crosses his counter. Some of those who have passed coles include Beka’s cousin Philben who got them on a job with Durward and Talbot from the Merry Molly and Otho Urtiz is a minstrel who has an unusual hobby, one that could find him in jail along with his current slave, Ashmari, and he got his coin from a Hanse Remy.

The King of Thieves
Rosto the Piper is the new king of thieves, the new Rogue after events in Terrier, 1. He’s bought some houses across the street to turn into his new Court, the Dancing Dove. And he likes Beka very much; he’s always leaving her red gillyflowers whenever something good or bad happens in her life. Phelan Rapp was a second-year Dog who had befriended the new Puppies in Terrier, but quit after Verene‘s death. He’ll be teaching Beka the proper commands for Achoo. Aniki Forfrysning is a swordmistress with a cat, Laddybuck, she got from Pounce. She’s taught Beka to use the lockpicks Rosto gave her. Koramin “Kora” Ingensra, a mage and Rosto’s left-hand, has her own kitten from Pounce, Fuzzball. Aniki’s band of rushers includes Fiddlelad, Bold Brian, and Reed Katie.

Madon and Geraint Pell are Kevan Pell‘s brothers.

Port Caynn is…
…divided by a ridge into two cities: the northern for the upper classes and deepwater shipping while the southern is for smaller boats and the lower classes. Its governor is a useless drunkard.

Port Caynn Dogs
Sergeant Nestor Haryse is a bastard cousin of Gershom’s who is also his patron and friend. All the women and girls on the Gershom estate had wanted to dally with him, especially Beka, but he’s a batdash. Okha Soyan, a.k.a., Amber Orchid, is supposedly Nestor’s lodger, but in reality his lover. He’s a popular crossdressing dancer and singer with lots of inside knowledge. Truda keeps house and cooks for them; Haden is a serving boy, Truda’s brother, and a good tracker. Usually. They’re former street kids, and Nestor got the idea from Beka and Lord Gershom to use those who are most familiar with the streets. Their gang works for Nestor and sleeps in his basement in the winter. Zander works at the Waterlily, a gaming house where Amber sings.

Sergeant Axman used to handle scent hounds before they put him behind a desk. Shales chose to be a cage Dog when she became a mom; Angelsea has always been one. Sir Lionel of Trebond is the deputy provost. His wife is Prince Baird’s oldest daughter, and Baird is the king’s brother. His reports state that Port Caynn is an amazingly peaceful town. And he doesn’t like women. Ives, Sir Lionel’s chief assistant, and Enno are Sir Lionel’s particular Dogs.

Serenity is a retired First Priestess of the Mother and now runs a lodging house, Ladyshearth Lodgings, where Beka and Goodwin will stay. It’s a pretty fancy place, and there will be no pigeon feeding! Berna is one of the maids. Hesserrr is the dust spinner in Port Caynn that Beka meets; Shhasow is a spinner outside a kennel. Vorna is a washerwoman who little girl, Aldis, has gotten lost.

Isanz Finer is a supposedly retired silversmith with a special skill and is a friend of Goodwin’s. Wenna is his daughter. Meraud is his great-granddaughter, and one of the few Finers in town unarrested. Senior Guildsman Tobeis Hawkwood and Senior Guildswoman Donnet Newmarch are the ones to whom Isanz reported the coles. Master Rollo Liddicoat is the family advocate.

Dale Rowan, a bank courier for Goldsmiths’ Bank and a gambler from Port Caynn; his friend, Hanse Remy, the head of a crew of caravan guards; and, Steen Bolter, one of Hanse’s guards and welcome at Pearl’s court, help Beka and Goodwin get innocents to the Jack and Patsy for safety during the Bread Riot in Corus. Master Lakeland is a healer who works on Messinger Lane. There’s nothing he can do for Tunstall’s two broken legs.

Later, in Port Caynn, these new friends help them meet others including Lowenna Boller, an orange girl, and Viel Sperling both of whom are friends of Fair Flory’s; Kevern Pye, Austell Goff, Wat Eavesbrook, Amda Threadgill, and Erben Worts who all work for Hanse; Alisoun Nails, a fellow courier, and Bermond Tapener, a master clerk at the Goldsmith’s Bank, both of whom are friends of Dale’s; and, Jaco Quilty is a journeyman smith and a friend of Hanse’s.

Durant Elkes‘ purse was snatched and he got a red one in exchange. One that held more coin that had been in his original purse. Mistake. It’s his arrest that tips Beka off to how and who Pearl chooses to get the red purse.

The Court of the Rogue in Port Caynn is…
…ruled by Her Majesty Pearl Skinner, the Rogue. She’s not stupid, but she’s not too bright either. She’s vicious and more concerned with spending money on her teeth. She practically rules Port Caynn. Her particular guards are Jurji and Torcall Jupp. Zolaika is her personal assassin. Elzie is the filch Beka caught. Fair Flory is mistress of the Port flower sellers and orange girls.

Dogs, a.k.a., Guardsmen, are the law enforcement officials in Tortall. They’re divided into Day Watch, Evening Watch, Night Watch, and Fourth Watch with the Day Watch usually being the most reliable (except on Beka’s district where it’s the Evening Watch that’s the best). No matter what district you’re in the Night Watch is always worked by the least interested, the laziest, the ones most likely to be fired. Puppies are the trainees. Kennels are the police stations. Cage Dogs handle the torture and the prisoners inside the jail. Dogs who are scent-handlers handle the dogs who can scent a trail. Happy Bags are bribes for the kennels the Dogs collect from the merchants and Rogue. It does go to pay for medicines, healers, and burials. Birdies are snitches for Dogs. A Dog tag is a magicked locator. Ferrets are the law enforcement branch of the Crown.

A filcher is a small-time criminal. Mots are women; gixies are girls. Coves are men. Rats can be criminals or simply inhabitants of bad neighborhoods. They can also be a Dog’s prisoner. Rushers are thugs. A cole is a counterfeit coin, a silver coating over brass, mimicking a silver noble. A batdash is a gay man while a honeylove is a gay woman.

Gambler’s Chance is a new card game from Port Caynn and invented by Dale Rowan. Arenaver is a little town on Barony Olau, and Hanse’s hometown.

The Cover
The cover is similar to the first story, Terrier, 1, with a silver metallic background with Beka in a short-sleeved black top and, I assume, her trews with her long braid. She’s holding her baton by one end with the other resting on the ground. What’s different are the wide top and bottom borders of a blue so deep that it’s almost purple with the author’s name and the title in a bright white.

The title is Beka’s newest nickname given her by the Dogs in Port Caynn, for she’s a Bloodhound in this hunt.

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2 responses to “Book Review: Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce

  1. You’re most welcome. I really like Tamora Pierce as an author. While she writes for the middle-grade / young adult market, she writes well with great characters and always makes me cry (I know, weird criterion…) But she’s on my must-buy list. I get the urge to re-read her work quite often.

    I’ve just finished the last book in the Beka Cooper series…wah…so that review will be coming.

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