Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce is the second book in the Legend of Beka Cooper series. Set in the land of Tortall, almost two hundred years before her popular series Song of the Lioness, Bloodhound is a different sort of beast from Pierce’s previous books.
One of the biggest differences of this series is that it is written in first person. At first the change was jarring for me, but Beka’s voice is so strong it is almost impossible not to be sucked into her world. Beka is a “Dog,” a sort of medival peacekeeper or policewoman in the country’s capital city. Both Bloodhound and the previous entry in the trilogy, Terrier, are written as journal entries that Beka writes. First she writes to keep track of her trainee year and later continues her journals as an exercise to hone her observation skills. This format could be a dangerous one, especially when it comes to giving details about the surroundings, but Pierce really has a knack for the journal entries and manages incredible world building without ever losing sight of the fact that each chapter is meant to be an “entry” in a young woman’s journal.
Beka lives in the slums of her city. She works hard and loves her job, even though it is not glamorous. All of the Tortall novels prior to this have dealt with Knights, mages and nobles who are in the periphery, if not the confidants of, Kings and Queens. They are all wonderful books, full of daring-do and a pageantry. However, there is something comforting about Beka’s smaller world where every day things like buying bread and having to worry about clean uniforms enter into the equation.
Tamora Pierce’s cities came alive for me. Both the capital city of Corus and the seaside Port Caynn are characters of their own with colorful rogues, their own slang and manner of speaking, customs and foods. From riots over bread prices to finding lost children, the early examples of police work are presented realistically in these places. I would never have thought the subject of counterfitting could be fascinating, or even exciting, but it was. I reread Terrier in anticipation of Bloodhound’s release in April and found myself so deeply into Beka’s world that I didn’t want to come out. I started Bloodhound again for a second read almost as soon as I finished it. That, more than anything I can tell you about the novel, including hints at the plot or characters, should tell you that this was a great book!