An Essay from Tamora Pierce
Sixteen-year-old Beka Cooper lives far removed from knights, palaces, and the nobility. Her world revolves around thieves, beggars, taverns, and the lowest of the low. She's a trainee for the Provost's Guarda rookie cop, in a world where a cop makes her own name based on her personality, her attitude toward money, and her love of the law. Beka means to prove that she is out to make her mark in this hard and physical world.
She does face a large obstacle. She's shy. Painfully shy. Left to her own devices, she would have no friends. It's hard for her to talk to people she doesn't know. It's a problem for the Guards who train her, a real problem for Bekaunless she can figure out that a uniform is a kind of costume, one she can hide behind. One that will make her a more outspoken person. It will help a lot if people come to realize that under her shyness is a clever, determined young woman. It will help even more if she can make friends who can give her good advice. Luckily, she has one such friend living with her in her slum apartment: a purple-eyed black cat named Pounce. He can make himself understood in human speech if he wishes to. He's capable of doing weirdly intelligent things to help his young companion Beka. With Pounce to assist her, Beka cannot have an ordinary career.
Beka tells her own story in a journal that she keeps from her very first day as a Puppy. The Guards are dubbed "Dogs" in her time and their trainees are called "Puppies." In its pages she writes of her days with her training Dogs, the pair who are to teach her what they know of survival on the streets in the city's toughest slum. Both are veterans. Tunstall is an easygoing, funny man who can be a little crazy in a fight. Goodwin is a small, tough woman who is opposed to Beka's presence at the beginning, a hard Dog and a smart one. They take charge when Beka brings them word of two vicious sets of crimes. Like everyone else in Beka's life, her partners find out that once Beka gets a case in her teeth, she hangs onto it like a terrier until it's been solved.
I have all kinds of reasons why I went to the past of the Alanna books. In part I wanted to show how present-day Tortall came to be. I also knew George's fans would welcome any kind of return to the Lower City, even if it wasn't the Lower City of his time. I wanted to get away from the courts and nobility, the setting for so many of the Tortall books thus far. Since I didn't want to show any of the characters I've come to love as being old or even dead, I couldn't write books in the future of the current Tortall. I turned to the past, and I'm pretty sure my readers will be glad I did! --Tamora Pierce
From School Library Journal
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