Pierce returns to the Tortall Realms for a new series, a kind of prequel to those of her popular "sheroes" Alanna, Kel and Aly. Her latest heroine is not a lady knight but a "Puppy," a police trainee whose talents lift her from the slums to the manor of Lord Gershom. The noble takes in Beka's impoverished family after the girl, at age eight, demonstrates near-magical abilities in law enforcement. Beka, now 16, begins her story with her first night on the job, told through journal entries. Assigned to two of the best Dogs (veteran officers) in the Jane Street kennel, Beka quickly distinguishes herself, assisted by winged informants (pigeons who carry the ghosts of murdered children and whisper only to Beka) and her aide-de-camp, Pounce, the purple-eyed cat (who will be familiar to Alanna devotees). Beka is drawn to solve two major crimes: one involving the disappearance of people hired to dig beneath the Lower City in search of precious "fire opals," and a scarier thread about the kidnapping and murder of children by a creature known only as the "Shadow Snake." Despite many action-packed scrapes with thieves and rogues, the pace lags a bit in this series opener. Fans of Pierce's previous forays into medieval fantasy, however, will likely savor every page, and Beka herself is a brave battler who shoulders an unwieldy narrative with nearly as much ease as she hobbles a cutpurse. Ages 10-13. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA - Leslie Baker
Pierce returns to her beloved Tortall for an adventure set hundreds of years before the Song of the Lioness series. Beka Cooper has just joined the Provost's Dogs and become a "Puppy" in the law enforcement element of Corus City. Beka requests an assignment in the notoriously dangerous Lower City and quickly finds her hands full. Her teachers, two of the toughest "Dogs" in the guard, set her straight to work, cracking heads and enforcing the law. Fortunately Pierce's latest heroine is up to the task as she uses her magical skills and sharp mind to tame the criminal elements of the Lower City. This book will be immediately snatched up by Pierce fans as soon as it hits the shelves. They will be pleasantly surprised by the first-person journal narrative from Beka's point-of-view, a first from Pierce. The huge cast of characters and complex street slang make it necessary to use the appendix in the back at times, but once readers start this book they will find it hard to stop. The only obstacle is the slow beginning as Pierce uses journal entries from characters other than Beka to introduce the story. Fans of the author will love this latest entry in Pierce's canon, and newcomers will find Beka a refreshing and enjoyable heroine.
KLIATT - Dr. Lesley Farmer
Tamora Pierce holds a longstanding reputation as a leading fantasy writer for teens. Her latest series, the Tortall Legend, continues her fine work. Sixteen-year-old Beka Cooper is a product of the rough-and-tumble Lower City. She has become a "Puppy," apprenticed to two worthy "Dogs" who serve the King as protectors of the city of Corus. As such, Beka must chase down criminals and help bring them to justice; her only weapons are her wooden baton, her wits, and her ability to listen. This latter skill extends to the world of the dead as she can hear ghostly whispers carried by pigeons and dust spinners. She is also befriended by a supernatural cat named Pounce, and has a few loyal human friends to make life more bearable. Beka keeps a diary of her adventures, which are many. She is outraged at the kidnapping and murder of innocent children, caused by the greed of the Shadow Snake. Adults too are starting to dieby poison. Even though the old neighborhood has always been troublesome, this increase in crime is intolerable to Beka, and she aims to protect it against all odds. As she and the Dogs keep getting stymied in their pursuit of the killers, it is no wonder that Beka eventually is called "Terrier" for her dogged persistence. Readers who fancy a British-sounding fantasy will enjoy Pierce's latest entry. Beka is a credible teenager who develops character throughout the book. The detailed setting and plot are believable and suspenseful. The violence is tastefully handled, and any sexual activity is discretely written so younger readers (and their adult caregivers) will feel comfortable. The visual layout is also very attractive: larger, spaced typeface with solid-line borders andcorner filigrees. A welcome addition to Pierce's opusand the makings of a great movie.
Pierce’s latest book takes place in Tortall some two hundred years before Alanna from the Lioness Quartet. This first-person narrative tells the story of sixteen-year-old Beka Cooper, who is a puppy--or trainee--to the Provost’s Guard, commonly known as the Provost’s Dogs. Working with two of the best guards, Matthias Tunstall and Clara Goodwin, she is given the dangerous assignment of evening shift in the Lower City. Soon she hears rumors of a nefarious criminal called the Shadow Snake, who kidnaps young children of the Lower City and holds them ransom for unique trinkets and family heirlooms. Tamora Pierce is recognized for her strong female characters, and Beka does not disappoint. She sniffs out clues with the tenacity of a terrier, from which she gets her nickname. Her descriptions of the law enforcers and the lawbreakers are both thoughtful and entertaining. Indeed, fans of Pierce’s fantasy series may be surprised to find a police procedural full of intrigue, suspense, and plenty of action. Strong characters, a suspenseful plot, and a magical setting combine in this gripping page-turner, sure to enthrall a wide variety of readers. Reviewer: Heather Christensen
KLIATT - KLIATT Review
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, January 2007: Tamora Pierce holds a longstanding reputation as a leading fantasy writer for teens. Her latest series, The Tortall Legend, continues her fine work. Sixteen-year-old Beka Cooper is a product of the rough-and-tumble Lower City. She has become a "Puppy," apprenticed to two worthy "Dogs" who serve the King as protectors of the city of Corus. As such, Beka must chase down criminals and help bring them to justice; her only weapons are her wooden baton, her wits, and her ability to listen. This latter skill extends to the world of the dead as she can hear ghostly whispers carried by pigeons and dust spinners. She is also befriended by a supernatural cat named Pounce, and has a few loyal human friends to make life more bearable. Beka keeps a diary of her adventures, which are many. She is outraged at the kidnapping and murder of innocent children, caused by the greed of the Shadow Snake. Adults too are starting to die--by poison. Even though the old neighborhood has always been troublesome, this increase in crime is intolerable to Beka, and she aims to protect it against all odds. As she and the Dogs keep getting stymied in their pursuit of the killers, it is no wonder that Beka eventually is called "Terrier" for her dogged persistence. Readers who fancy a British-sounding fantasy will enjoy Pierce's latest entry. Beka is a credible teenager who develops character throughout the book. The detailed setting and plot are believable and suspenseful. The violence is tastefully handled, and any sexual activity is discretely written so younger readers (and their adult caregivers) will feel comfortable. A welcome addition to Pierce'sopus--and the makings of a great movie. Age Range: Ages 12 to 18. REVIEWER: Dr. Lesley Farmer (Vol. 42, No. 1)
The Lower City of Corus is a rough neighborhoodso rough that no rookie in the Provost's Guard would request duty there. None but Beka Cooper, that is. She may be just a Puppy, but her upbringing in the Lower City and her ability to hear the voices of the dead allow her insight into the twisted workings of the city's criminal community. Someone is preying on the poor families of Corus, and Beka must use her unusual "birdies" to prove that the Shadow Snake is not just a scary children's story. With Beka, Pierce gives us another powerful heroine whose flaws are as familiar and endearing as her strengths. Terrier's journal format lends intimacy to a novel that is part bildungsroman and part mystery, and as Beka's voice develops, she earns her place in the record of Tortallan legends and as one of Pierce's most human and complex characters. Reviewer: Nicole Barrick
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up
Orphaned Beka Cooper, 16, is a trainee-a "Puppy"-in the Provost's Guard. Having spent the first half of her life in Tortall's slums, she is driven by the need to do what is right and see justice done. Paired with two of the best Guards, or "Dogs," in the organization and aided by her own gifts of magic, Beka learns her job, makes friends with two mages and a thief, and uncovers two serial killers who prey on the poor and unnoticed. With Terrier, Pierce tries out a new style of storytelling and succeeds admirably. Beka, the ancestor of George Cooper from the "Song of the Lioness" series (S & S), tells her story through journal entries, making for a thoroughly engaging read. The characters are recognizable types, but all have their own personalities. Readers will enjoy meeting the Lady Knight Sabine of Macayhill, Alanna's precursor in profession and temperament; Rosto the Piper; and Beka's friends. The level of violence is comparable to that found in "The Circle Opens" series (Scholastic) but isn't as gratuitous. This seems mostly to be due to the journal format, which gives readers only Beka's thoughts and feelings as opposed to those of the killers as well. With its rollicking adventure, appealing characters, and inclusion of Tortall's history, Terrier will be in strong demand by Pierce's fans. It will keep readers on the edge of their seats.
Lisa ProlmanCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
Starred review, School Library Journal, February 2007:
"With its rollicking adventures [and] appealing characters . . . Terrier will be in strong demand by Pierce's fans. It will keep readers on the edge of their seats."
Read an Excerpt
Being the Journal of Rebakah Cooper dwelling at Mistress Trout's lodgings
Nipcopper Close, the Lower City
Corus, the realm of Tortall
I have this journal that I mean to use as a record of my days as a Provost's Dog. Should I survive my first year as a Puppy, it will give me good practice for writing proper reports when I am required to write them as a proper Dog. By reporting as much as I can remember word by word, especially in talk with folk about the city, I will keep my memory exercises sharp. Our trainers told us we must always try to memorize as much as we could exactly as we could. "Your memory is your record when your hands are too busy." That is one of our training sayings.
For my own details, to make a proper start, I own to five feet and eight inches in height. My build is muscled for a mot. I have worked curst hard to make it so, in the training yard and on my own. My peaches are well enough. Doubtless they would be larger if I put on more pounds, but as I have no sweetheart and am not wishful of one for now, my peaches are fine as they are.
I am told I am pretty in my face, though my sister Diona says when my fine nose and cheekbones have been broken flat several times that will no longer be so. (My sisters do not want me to be a Dog.) My eyes are light blue gray in color. Some like them. Others hold them to be unsettling. I like them, because they work for me. My teeth are good. My hair is a dark blond. Folk can see my brows and lashes without my troubling to darken them, not that I would. I wear my hair long, as my one vanity. I know it offers an opponent a grip, but I have learned to tight braid it from the crown of my head. I also have a spiked strap to braid into it, so that any who seize my braid will regret it.
I want to write down every bit of this first week of my first year above all. For eight long year I have waited for this week. Now it has come. I want a record of my first seeking, my training Dogs, my every bit of work. I know I will be made a Dog sooner than any Puppy has ever been. I will start to prove I know more than any Puppy has ever done my very first week.
It is not vanity. I lived in the Cesspool for eight year. I stole. I have studied at the knee of the Lord Provost for eight more year, and run messages for the Provost's Dogs for three year, before I ever went into training. I know every street and alley of the Lower City better than I know the faces of my sisters and brothers, better than I knew my mother's face. I will learn the rest quicker than any other Puppy. I even live in the Lower City now. I know none of the others assigned to the Jane Street Kennel do so. (They will regret it when they must walk all the way home at the end of their watch!)
So my first week is of particular importance in this journal.
Pounce says I count my fish before they're hooked. I tell Pounce that if I had to be saddled with a purple-eyed talking cat, why must I have a sour one? He is to stay home during my first week as a Puppy. I will not be distracted by this strange creature who has been my friend these last four years. And I will not have my Dogs distracted by him. Four legged cats--not even ones who talk in cat but make themselves understood in Common--have naught to do with plain, honest Dog work.
I am assigned to the Jane Street Kennel. The Watch Commander in this year of 246 is Acton of Fenrigh. I doubt I will ever have anything to do with him. Most Dogs don't. Our Watch Sergeant is Kebibi Ahuda, one of my training masters, my training master in combat, and the fiercest mot I have ever met. We have six Corporals on our Watch and twenty-five Senior Guards. That's not counting the cage Dogs and the Dogs who handle the scent hounds. We also have a mage on duty, Fulk. Fulk the Nosepicker, we mots call him. I plan to have nothing to do with him, either. The next time he puts a hand on me I will break it, mage or not.
There is the sum of it. All that remains is my training Dogs. I will write of them, and describe them properly, when I know who they are.
April 1, 246
And so this is my day at last--my evening, in truth, as I have been assigned to the Evening Watch at the Jane Street Kennel. The Watch Commander is some member of the As the sun touched the rim of the city wall, I walked into the Jane Street Kennel in uniform. I was able to get it all for free from the old clothes room at my Lord Provost's house. I wore the summer black tunic with short sleeves, black breeches, and black boots. I had a leather belt with purse, whistle, paired daggers, a proper baton, water flask, rawhide cords for prisoner taking. I was kitted up like a proper Dog and ready to bag me some rats who broke the king's law.
Some of the other Lower City trainees were already there. Like me they wore a Puppy's white trim at the hems of sleeves and tunic. None of us have figured out if the white is to mark us out so rats will spare us, or if they will kill us first. None of the veteran Dogs who were our teachers would say, either.
I sat with the other Puppies. They greeted me with gloom. None of them wanted to be here, but each district gets its allotment of the year's Puppies. My companions on this bench feel they drew the short straw. There is curst little glory here. Unless you are a veteran Dog or a friend of the Rogue, the pickings are coppers at best. And the Lower City was rough. Everyone knew that of the Puppies who started their training year in the Lower City, half give up or are killed in the first four months.
I tried to look as glum as the others. The truth was, I had asked to be sent here.
Ahuda took her place at the tall sergeant's desk. We all sat up. We'd feared her in training. She is a stocky black woman with some freckles and hair she has straightened and cut just below her ears. The story is her family is from Carthak far in the south. They say she treats trainees the way she did in vengeance for how the Carthakis treated her family as slaves. All I knew was that she'd made fast fighters of us.
She nodded to the evening watch Dogs as they came on duty, already in their pairs or meeting up in the waiting room. Some looked at our bench and grinned. Some nudged each other and whispered and laughed. My classmates hunkered down and looked miserable.
"They'll eat us alive," my friend Ersken whispered in my ear. He was the kindest of us, which worried me. "I think they sharpen their teeth."
"Going to sea wouldn'ta been so bad." Verene had come in after me and sat on my other side. "Go on, Beka--give 'em one of them ice-eye glares of yours."
I looked down. Though I am comfortable enough with my fellow Puppies, I wasn't so comfortable with the Dogs or the other folk who came in with business in the kennel. "You get seasick," I told Verene. "That's why you went for a Dog. And leave my glares out of it."
Since Ahuda was at her desk, the Watch Commander was already in his office. He'd be going over the assignments, choosing the Dog partners who would get a Puppy. I asked the Goddess to give Ersken someone who'd understand his kindness never meant he was weak. Verene needed Dogs that would talk to her straight. And me?
Goddess, Mithros, let them be good at their work, I begged.
From the Hardcover edition.