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Terrier (The Legend of Beka Cooper, Book 1) [Paperback]

Tamora Pierce
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (157 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Tamora Pierce has been creating strong, appealing heroines for teen fantasy fans for years, creating 2 main universes to house her multiple series. With Terrier, Pierce returns to the Tortall universe (home to her Song of the Lioness, Immortals, Protector of the Small, and Daughter of the Lioness series). Want to learn more? Read an exclusive essay from Tamora Pierce below. --Daphne Durham


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 Guard—a 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 Beka—unless 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


--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 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 Prolman, Greenfield Public Library, MA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Having followed her signature heroine into the next generation with her Trickster duet, Pierce now looks back into the history of Tortall and finds another fierce, lovable gal who won't take any guff. Sixteen-year-old Beka Cooper, born hundreds of years before Alanna drew her first sword, has just signed on as a Puppy (trainee) with her city's crime fighters, unofficially known as the Dogs. Beka's extrasensory gifts and a firsthand understanding of her tough beat help her to "scent" two heinous criminals, whom she delivers to justice--despite the limitations of her apprentice role--by rallying a lively network of informants, mentors, and allies. Pierce deftly handles the novel's journal structure, and her clear homage to the police-procedural genre applies a welcome twist to the girl-legend-in-the-making story line. Leisurely infusions of detail frequently slow things down, but homely, often comic pauses interspersing epic deeds have become touchstones of Pierce's storytelling, and not even the strained surprise ending will prevent fans from begging for more about the avenging pup known as a "Terrier among Dogs." Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

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."


From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Tamora Pierce's fast-paced, suspenseful writing and strong, believable heroines have won her much praise and a large, devoted fan following. Her novels are frequent award-winners and regularly appear on bestseller lists. Having written more than two-dozen books and recently co-edited an anthology of Young Adult short stories, Ms. Pierce is a tireless self-promoter and YA advocate. She attends several conventions each year and makes frequent bookstore appearances. She also has a strong presence online, as the co-creator (with novelist Meg Cabot) of www.sheroes.com, a site for young readers to learn about remarkable women in fact and fiction. The author lives in New York, NY.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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.

From AudioFile

In the gritty fantasy underworld of Tortoll we meet 16-year-old Beka, a rookie cop in the Provost's Guard, who trains to sniff out criminals and make a name for herself, despite her debilitating shyness. Narrator Susan Denaker has an elegant, smooth voice that transforms into the guttural snarl of a rat and the homesick voice of a child's lost soul. She never shrinks from depicting the rough humor of the lower city. Denaker excels at distinguishing Pierce's many characters, including Beka's mentors, streetwise Goodwin and charming Tunstall. Best of all is the voice she creates for Beka, sometimes mutinous, often pained as Beka learns how to be brave without being foolish and how to give voice to her special knowledge about the world. J.C.G. © AudioFile 2007, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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