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Hundreds of years before Alanna first drew her sword in Tamora Pierce's memorable debut, Alanna: The First Adventure, Tortall had a heroine named Beka Cooper - a fierce young woman who fights crime in a world of magic. This is the beginning of her story, her legend, and her legacy....

Beka Cooper is a rookie with the law-enforcing Provost's Guard, commonly known as "the Provost's Dogs," in Corus, the capital city of Tortall. To the surprise of both the veteran "Dogs" and her fellow "puppies," Beka requests duty in the Lower City. The Lower City is a tough beat. But it's also where Beka was born, and she's comfortable there.

Beka gets her wish. She's assigned to work with Mattes and Clary, famed veterans among the Provost's Dogs. They're tough, they're capable, and they're none too happy about the indignity of being saddled with a puppy for the first time in years. What they don't know is that Beka has something unique to offer. Never much of a talker, Beka is a good listener. So good, in fact, that she hears things that Mattes and Clary never could - information that is passed in murmurs when flocks of pigeons gather ... murmurs that are the words of the dead.

In this way, Beka learns of someone in the Lower City who has overturned the power structure of the underworld and is terrorizing its citizens into submission and silence. Beka's magical listening talent is the only way for the Provost's Dogs to find out the identity of this brutal new underlord, for the dead are beyond fear. And the ranks of the dead will be growing if the Dogs can't stop a crime wave the likes of which has never been seen. Luckily for the people of the Lower City, the new puppy is a true terrier!

581 pages, Hardcover

First published October 24, 2006

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About the author

Tamora Pierce

106 books83.5k followers
Hey, folks! I just discovered that apparently I have given some very popular books single-star ratings--except I haven't. How do I know I haven't? Because I haven't read those books at all. So before you go getting all hacked off at me for trashing your favorites, know that I've written GoodReads to find out what's going on.

I return to my regularly scheduled profile:
Though I would love to join groups, I'm going to turn them all down. I just don't have the time to take part, so please don't be offended if I don't join your group or accept an invitation. I'm not snooty--I'm just up to my eyeballs in work and appearances!

Also, don't be alarmed by the number of books I've read. When I get bored, I go through the different lists and rediscover books I've read in the past. It's a very evil way to use up time when I should be doing other things. Obviously, I've read a lot of books in 54 years!

I was born in South Connellsville, PA. My mother wanted to name me "Tamara" but the nurse who filled out my birth certificate misspelled it as "Tamora". When I was 8 my family moved to California, where we lived for 6 years on both sides of the San Francisco peninsula.

I started writing stories in 6th grade. My interest in fantasy and science fiction began when I was introduced to ‘The Lord of the Rings’ by J. R. R. Tolkien and so I started to write the kind of books that I was reading. After my parents divorced, my mother took my sisters and me back to Pennsylvania in 1969. There I went to Albert Gallatin Senior High for 2 years and Uniontown Area Senior High School for my senior year.

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, I wrote the book that became The Song of the Lioness fantasy quartet. I sold some articles and 2 short stories and wrote reviews for a martial arts movie magazine. At last the first book of the quartet, Alanna: The First Adventure was published by Atheneum Books in 1983.

Tim Liebe, who became my Spouse-Creature, and I lived in New York City with assorted cats and two parakeets from 1982 - 2006. In 2006 we moved to Syracuse, New York, where we live now with assorted cats, a number of squirrels, birds, raccoons, skunks, opossums, and woodchucks visiting our very small yard. As of 2011, I have 27 novels in print, one short story collection, one comic book arc ("White Tiger: A Hero's Compulsion") co-written with Tim, and a short story anthology co-editing credit. There's more to come, including a companion book to the Tortall `verse. So stay tuned!

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5 stars
31,668 (46%)
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3 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,118 reviews
Profile Image for Gail Carriger.
Author 55 books15k followers
March 7, 2016
Tamora Pierce's Beka Cooper series, Book One: Terrier.

I'm beginning to, finally, recognize patterns in Tamora Pierce's heroines. When I was a kid I identified with her books so strongly I couldn't possibly step back as a writer to see her tricks. Now, with the benefit of age and distance, I read this book with new eyes. Her main characters always have some kind of fatal flaw - in Beka's case it's fear of public speaking and chronic shyness, for Alana it was cold and spiders, for Kel it was heights, and so forth. At some point, in each series, the heroine will be made to face her fear. On the other hand, she also has an equally strong good trait or two - for Alanna this was stubbornness and whit, for Kel a stoically strong leadership, for Beka it's dogged determination. For all of them it's surrounding themselves with supportive friends. There is always one major issue or problem in each book for each girl that only she sees (and proverbially, must be responsible for the solution). In Beka's case it's a problem of people disappearing, and since these people are her people (the poor and destitute) she undertakes their protection.

I like Pierce best when she's writing YA with a warrior girl main character. The Wild Mage series are my least favorite Tortall books and I gave up on her non-Tortall Circle series early.

But with Beka we're back to my favorite kind of read. I can't believe it took me so long to pick up this book! Pierce successfully weaves almost Noir police procedural with gritty crime and punishment in a fantasy setting. It reminded me, ever so slightly, of Vimes and the Night Watch of Ankh Morpork. Pierce is also using Beka to explore, for what feels like the first time, the commoners of Tortall - the neglected layfolk and the street people. So often fantasy novels are about nobles and quests, it was delightful to see what the underlings thought of the nobles. The use of Lower City slang and lingo pervades the book, but not so much I was uncomfortable with it. Like peopling her books with excess characters, Pierce has such a light touch you hardly notice the overload. (And her editors let her get away with it, they might not with a less seasoned YA author.) Her wide cast of characters includes animals and the return of one of my favorites of all time, the Wanderer, the Cat, AKA (spoiler alert) Faithful!!! Yay! I remember crying so hard in the last Alanna book when he returned to the Goddess. So to have him back in all his cheeky glory is truly wonderful. I would have bought this book on that fact alone if I had known.

So what are my final thoughts?

If you have a pre-teen girl in your life you owe it to the world to put Tamora Pierce in front of her. Beka is an excellent way to start, although Alanna will always be my favorite. Pierce is a master of strong tough young women. Women who know what they want, stand up for what they believe, hold a moral compass made of personal integrity, and still can love and be kind and surround themselves with friends. With the gruesome specter of reality TV looming over us, someone has to fight the good fight. We should all be so lucky as to have a little Tamora Pierce in our lives, and in our spirits.

Read it.
Profile Image for Fran.
688 reviews56 followers
August 26, 2016
The first time I read Terrier I thought it was some of Tammy's best writing in years and it quickly became one of my favourite Tortall books. I still feel that way after my latest re-read (in preparation for Bloodhound). Terrier feels fresh, and I attribute this reinvigoration of the Tortall world to several factors:
- Firstly: Terrier is written in first person, which is the first of Tammy's novels to be written thus (Note: Tammy has written short stories in first person).
- Secondly: it is written in a diary/journal style which is, again, a first (this time a total first for Tammy). Tammy writes the diary style well, giving a valid reason for it to be so detailed (to aid Beka’s Dog reports and memory retention) yet still retaining the realism of a diary (days when you skip writing, longer writings some days and less on others, and days where you play catch-up and fill in the events of several days).
- Thirdly: it is set 200 years before any of the other Tortall stories have taken place, which allows for a certain freedom of expression, more than in other recent Tortall books. (A book set some time in the future of Tortall could also have this result, or in a different country – like the ‘Elder Brother’ and ‘Hidden Girl’ short stories.)
- Fourthly: Tammy creates, in Beka, a character who is different from those leads that have come before, yet one who is still tied to the Tortall universe.
- And fifthly: Terrier covers new ground with the exploration of an organisation that has been mentioned, but never explained in detail, and spending time with the every-day folk of Tortall. These people are a reflection of the people we are today.
The combination of these first two points was, I feel, a challenge to Tammy’s writing which help prevent things from possibly become formulaic. And all of these points, combined, allow for a totally new experience in a familiar world.

Beka is a salt of the earth character. She’s another stylistic change, as she’s a commoner who was born and lives in the slums, and works and socialises with other common folk (unlike Daine, who starts out common but quickly rises in status by association). This is a breath of fresh air (even though I’m sure the stench of the lower city is not so fresh!) and allows Tammy to create a whole new linguistic style and a fantastic array of slang and curse words. The vocab is quite easy to pick up as you go along, especially if you’ve read other Tortall universe books as it builds on the cant of those common born supporting folk we’ve met in other books (e.g. Coram from ‘Song of the Lioness’ or Lalasa from ‘Protector of the Small’). The meanings of words are sometimes obvious (pox), clear from the inflection (mot/cove), clear in context (scummer) or an actual word that has just fallen out of everyday use (hobble). If you really need to know the meaning of something, or need a reminder, there is a handy little glossary in the back of the book (a useful feature in Tammy’s books for a long time now). I don’t find the language a hindrance at all, it enriches the text and makes it more real and textured as this is Beka’s own diary and she is writing with her language. I love the language and some of it has fallen into my everyday vocab (sarden), while other words were already there (poxy)!

The detective/mystery feel to the book also provide a new frame work for Tammy’s writing. The plot moves along at a steady pace, giving us clues here and there as Beka slowly pieces the case together through her work with her partners, her friends and her unusual informants. The resolution of the mystery, the ‘whodunit’, when it all falls into place is marvellous. It’s a bit of a surprise, a bit of a shock and a bit of a ‘oh, but I didn’t want it to be that person!’ (which Tammy proved she can pull off fantastically in ‘Cold Fire’, making one empathise with the ‘baddie’ and showing that the world isn’t just blacks and whites, goodies and baddies, heroes and villains).

Along with Beka we get to meet, and grow to love, a varied cast of supporting players. There are her partners, Goodwin and Tunstall; fellow Dogs Ersken, Verene and Phelan; and friends in Tansy, Kora and Aniki. There is also Rosto, the lovable rat, who is clearly on a path to become the Rouge. Yes, Tammy once again makes us fall in love with the Rouge (and Beka too, just a little bit). There is also one familiar and well loved character back – Pounce, also known as ‘Faithful’ in ‘Song of the Lioness’. He was always a favourite of mine and I was filled with glee to know he’d be back in this new trilogy. As Tammy’s books are now considerably longer and more fleshed out than when ‘Alanna: The First Adventure’ was published, Pounce has lots of room to become a more actualised character. Just what and who Pounce is becomes clearer in Terrier as things are alluded to. In other places of the narrative you find familiar family names popping up, which is fun to watch out for.

Terrier also builds on established mythology – George’s excellent memory that he inherited from his father (Beka’s side of the family) is shown here with her recall and observational skills. George’s peculiar magic (referred to as ‘the Sight’ in ‘Song of the Lioness’) is also explained somewhat, although not fully, as Beka has her own magic that proves invaluable for her Dog work (although her magic is apparently different to George’s). However, Beka’s magic is not explained fully either - although it is noted that it is a family gift that her father had too. These are nice touches that show the depth of thought that went into creating Beka and tie Terrier tidily into the larger Tortallan universe.

I’m so thankful that the world of children’s and young adult publishing has changed since ‘Song of the Lioness’ as it now gives us these more complex, and more rewarding, books. Terrier is both a self contained adventure story and a solid foundation for the following two books in the trilogy. The presentation of the book is beautiful – the cover photography by Jonathan Barkat, the Terrier stamped on the front board of the hardback edition, and the little touches and flourishes inside the book that personalise Beka’s diary. A must read for any Tammy fan and an excellent introductory book for anyone new to Tammy’s works.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
2,120 reviews36 followers
September 30, 2012
Okay I really have no idea how anyone made it through this book. And why anyone would give it such amazing reviews...I have not read any of the authors other books and now I don't know that I will. This book was painful for me to try and get through and honestly I did not make it. I gave it to the halfway point (which took a month for me to get to that point it was so bad - normally I will get through a book in a day or two if it is good) and then I couldn't take it anymore. There are very few books that I do not finish once I start them. I don't know why but once I start something I finish it even if I don't really like it. This I just could not. Some of my issues with it:

1) How many times do I have to read that she is a Puppy training to be a Dog. I get it - the police type people are called Dogs and you are a trainee so you are a Puppy. Got it. You don't have to keep beating me over the head with it.

2) It is written like a diary which great I have read other things where that has worked, but it is not really written like a diary. Well maybe a diary of someone who has perfect memory and unlimited time. So she is busy all day before going and training and then walking her rounds then somehow she has enough time to write out a billion pages in her diary and sleep? Sure. It just does not really read like a diary so the whole that is what it is annoyed me since I didn't buy it. I mean really who remembers word for word conversations they have had?

3) How much flippin detail do you need? Not nearly as much as the main character can remember about every tiny little thing. I don't care that when so and so came to visit you she knocked on the door 3 times then you opened it, saw her standing there with a basket with roll, you let her in, she walked 6 steps to the blue chair then sat down in said chair and this is the exact conversation about nothing that we had and on and on and who really cares? I don't. It is not important to the story and most of this diary is just insignificant details that don't matter to anything that is going on or further the plot at all. A simple so and so came to visit, we chatted for a while and at the rolls she brought whatever is fine. WAY too much details that bored me to death.

4) The main character is supposed to be soooo shy. I mean she keeps repeating it over and over and over and over and over again. Yep I get it, you are shy. Then why don't you act shy 90% of the time? I mean yes you are oh soooo shy when you complain about how you are sooo shy cannot talk to anyone because you are oohhhh soooooo shy. Then 2 seconds later you have no issues talking to the people and doing whatever. Sure. I buy that you are soooo shy when you do not act like it. I mean if you are going to keep shoving something in my face at least make your character actually act that way.

I really do not understand the appeal to this book. I thought it was way too bogged down in stupid details that didn't matter and was incredibly boring. I just could not make it through the book no matter how hard I tried. It was painful just getting halfway through it.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
April 26, 2018
Review and more at

I still can’t believe I have to rate this one star. A Tamora Pierce book too! But I found this book so slow with a lot of unnecessary details and not enough necessary details. I mean a lot of this was just ramble about the MC’s everyday life and like who came to visit her and what they talked about etc…

So basically the whole of this book is about the everyday life and line of duty of “Puppy” Beka Cooper, and don’t get me wrong I actually liked her as she was very well-developed and strong yet flawed. I must say that’s one of the things I really like about Tamora Pierce’s heroines as they all are strong and believe in good but they’re not overly perfect that they stop feeling like real people. But so far that’s where the good ends in this series as I couldn’t really connect with the other characters and found the whole plot tediously slow and boring.

This book was supposed to be about the mystery of who was stealing the missing children and killing them and that sounds real exciting doesn’t it? Only it wasn’t at all, somehow the author managed to dull down what could have been an interesting mystery (and don’t get me wrong I love a good mystery) and instead focus on mundane things in Beka’s everyday life such as who come to visit her, what time and what they spoke about, I mean honestly who cares?? And not only that but I felt this book on a whole was rather light for a book that was about dealing with criminals. I’m not saying this because I prefer darker books but because it really would have added more excitement and atmosphere to the whole book and world if things had been more gruesome cause come on, she is patrolling the rougher parts of the city…

Another thing I will mention is despite this book’s size and length, there’s zero world building. I don’t know why this was the case as there were plenty of opportunities to put in some world history but still we practically got none. So on the whole I would say this book would need more action and just a more exciting faster pacing where you don’t know what’s around the corner and you’re always in suspense…

This just had so much potential to be thrilling and dark with plenty of twists and turns, heck even when we do find out who is killing all the children it isn’t that much of a shock just like eh okay then…. I had high hopes for this but was let down mostly by the slow pace and lack of suspense in the plot and writing. Despite all these negativities I still would like to find out what becomes of Beka AND others have said these books get better… I just don’t understand why so many on GR have rated this one so highly though…
Profile Image for laurel [the suspected bibliophile].
1,501 reviews442 followers
February 15, 2023
When she was eight years old, Beka Cooper foiled a plot and brought herself to the attention of the Lord Provost, who took her and her family in, raising them to be something more than their origins in the Corus’ Lower City. But at sixteen, Beka wants nothing of servantry. She is going to become a Dog, a member of the Provost’s Guard. She just needs to survive her first year of training as a Puppy.

Tamora Pierce is one of the best in the business at worldbuilding. The Lower City comes to life in a few words, bolstered by a street dialect.

I loved Beka, who was very much a sixteen year old and also very much someone just starting out in her career and wanting to be taken seriously. Her magic abilities are unique, in that she can talk to the dead ghosts riding on pigeons and can listen to the words trapped inside dust spinners. Her cat, Pounce (hello Faithful!) is magical, too, and a character.

However, I will say that I enjoyed this book less than I did when it first was released in 2006, and during my last reread in 2013.

What I found enjoyable this time around where things that I did not like 10 and even 15 years ago, so my tastes and understanding of the world have definitely changed, and I didn’t feel the framing device as journal format quite worked the way it was meant to.

Full review on my blog: http://thesuspectedbibliophile.home.b...
Profile Image for Paige  Bookdragon.
938 reviews612 followers
May 7, 2015
I love stories about the Tortall Realm.

I really really do. Cross my heart. Hope to die. Stick a needle in my eye

(You know, I never knew the reason why kids on our country say these things when they want to convince people they're telling the truth.This sounds painful.Maybe that explains the phrase, the truth hurts? )

But anyway ... por favor .

This book almost bored me to death. The only reason why I finished this one was because I have a high respect for Pounce . I think it tells a great deal about a book when the only interesting character is the main heroine's cat.

Profile Image for Lata.
3,764 reviews206 followers
February 15, 2019
I am late to the Tortall party, and though this book had a bit of a slow start, I found it grew on me as I became more familiar with the characters and the essentially England-analogue world.
Beka Cooper is a Puppy, training to be a guardsman, known as a Dog. (Once trained, a Puppy becomes a Terrier.) Beka's very shy, but competent at her training. She's also able to hear ghosts, who hitch rides on pigeons, and a cat who seems to be so much more has moved into her lodgings, and follows her everywhere.
Guardsman are paired with Puppies so they can mentor the young trainees; Beka is assigned to a pair of very competent Dogs, and the story covers how the three work together, and how Beka's relationships and abilities are useful as they investigate someone kidnapping children, and someone killing several people.
I enjoyed this much more than I as expecting to; I'm not generally a fan any longer of the standard fantasy set in a European-like setting. Beka Cooper was a terrific character, and I really liked her growing relationship with Clary, and several other female characters. I also liked the way Tamora Pierce told the story through Beka's diary entries. I am definitely reading book 2 in this series.
Profile Image for Brittany McCann.
1,816 reviews427 followers
November 30, 2018
I think this may have been a HORRIBLE place to start in the universe. I don't know if all of the books are written in this same format, but the jumping around with constant referral to terms and things that had no explanation to a new reader were really annoying and made it not a very enjoyable read. I found a list of chronological order and wanted to start there and I guess that was a bad choice. This book was also written for a fairly young audience on the young adult spectrum so I really never got connected to any of the characters. With that being said it wasn't a BAD book, just probably better to start after you already know the universe. Probably NOT my best introduction to Tamora Pierce based on the love I see from others haha. Another one of those books I would probably love if I read it when I was younger
Profile Image for AziaMinor.
470 reviews58 followers
April 1, 2019
Take this reading slump! I was able to finish this with time to spare!!!!

Was tossing between a 3 or 4 stars and then decided that Mrs. Pierce DESERVES a 4 because she is just that good.

I'll give a more thorough review when I've got the time but I just wanted to put down a quick thought about this book and her author.

Tamora Pierce's world building is so fluid and concise that it's like you're trying to immerse yourself into an actual country! It's hard going at first, learning the dialect and the way the people think and act and feel, but by the end of it you feel like a mot yourself going about your day ;)

Beka Cooper was a great character with great supporting cast. Two thumbs way up
Profile Image for Linda ~ they got the mustard out! ~.
1,632 reviews112 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
January 4, 2022
2nd attempt: DNF @ 76%

I like Beka all right, but the story wasn't holding my interest and every time they mention Crookshank, I keep thinking about Hermoine's cat. Beka's got not just a magical god cat like Alanna, but she can also talk to animals, including birds that house the spirits of the recently departed. I'm sure at some point she'll get a magical sword or bow or maybe even a sword that turns into a bow. And the puppy/dog thing is still too weird. So I'm finished with this particular series, and possibly this universe if the next Numair book never comes out.

DNF @ ?

Here's my update from 12%:

1) This isn't George's mom but his many times removed great-grandma. Ooookay.

2) It’s really creeping me out how they refer to themselves as puppies and dogs.

3) Beka has a cat whose meows sound like human words so it can talk, but only to those he wants to understand. Because of course she does. *sigh*

4) Crookshank. You know who I'm thinking about. LOL

So I'm having trouble concentrating on this, and I don't know if it's just because it wasn't who I thought it was going to be about, general apathy, series fatigue, or all of the above. I'm going to back-burner Tortall for the rest of the year and try this again next year. :)
Profile Image for Emily.
705 reviews2,045 followers
July 22, 2017
I wish this had been written as a third-person novel rather than as a journal - I have many logistical and stylistic issues with journals as a medium. I suppose I'm willing to accept that Beka is coming back after a night of grueling exercise and writing thousands of words about her day, but I'm less willing to accept the grating writing style. Beka's "voice" is stilted and matter-of-fact, which made it read like low-grade YA fantasy from a debut writer instead of a novel written by an accomplished and interesting writer whom I otherwise very much enjoy. It also involves 450% too much made-up cant, where everyone is a "mot" or a "cove" and they might have "peaches" (shudder) and the running metaphors around the Dogs (particularly the growl??) border on too much. And it's hard to get a sense of Beka when she's writing about herself. Her key character trait is shyness and she tends to underestimate herself, so as a reader it's less clear why people like Aniki, Kora, and especially Rosto take to her so quickly when Beka is spending most of her time downplaying her own attractions. All of that is to say: this would have been soooo much better as a novel. DITCH THE JOURNAL AS A DEVICE, ASPIRING WRITERS!!

I did like many aspects of the book, but due to the writing it never really sang to me. The plot was fine (if you've ever read an Agatha Christie novel, you know the murderer is ), the characters were fine (I liked the inclusion of a lady knight), and the relationships, such as they were, were fine (never very deep). Overall a less than thrilling Tortall book, which is not a sentence I'd ever thought I'd type.
Profile Image for Cinda.
Author 33 books11.2k followers
April 15, 2009
I loved this book, kind of a combination police procedural/high fantasy. Set in the Tortall world, with a light touch of magic. I read while I work out and this is the first book in a long time that made me forget where I was and what I was doing and wish the workout session could go on longer...
Profile Image for Cara.
279 reviews720 followers
May 24, 2009
What is one word I can use to sum up the book hmm... probably AWESOME ! Seriously there isn't a lot of books that can do that (at least for me). Beka Cooper is the most kick butt, cool heroine I've encountered in all my reading days.

The book was just as good the second time around. At first I was wary of reading it again thinking it might not be as enjoyable this time around. Obviously I was wrong. I even caught myself looking ahead to see what happened, and then I would remind myself that I already knew what happened.

Pierce does an excellent of job of letting you in on who the villains are a little bit at a time. The worlds she create are so intricate you start thinking this could be an actual place. I'm glad she did this series in first person, even though it is unbelievable that someone would go through all that trouble and be so detailed as Beka is in her journal.
The whole concept of Dogs and police work was really interesting and made this book even more original.

I'm simply itching to get my hands of the second book Bloodhound. Again highly recommended!

Note to self: This needs a better review.
Profile Image for Sienna.
190 reviews
December 5, 2010

^^If don't understand that sentence ^^, 'I'D RATHER WATCH PAINT DRY'

Do not get out this book unless you are looking for torture. The chapters are a million pages long, and most of which are boring. I reckon I got up to about page 30 and then I had to stop, for the story was doing my head in. Whoever told me that was a good book, don't tell me anymore, cuz' obviously your eyes have incinerated and all that's left is the eye socket. SERIOUSLY, DO NOT GET THIS BOOK!!!!

Profile Image for Emma.
1,251 reviews104 followers
January 16, 2022

I am a long-time fan of Tamora Pierce, but I have to say that this series may be my favorite of hers. Terrier has all the great world-building, sharp storytelling, and vibrant characters I have come to expect from Pierce. Just like Beka Cooper, this book gets its teeth into you and won't let go until you finish it.
Profile Image for Azumi.
47 reviews32 followers
February 9, 2017
I don't get why people like it, it's horrible. It's a diary written by what seems to be a twelve year old. I mean, come on.
"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."
Somebody kill me now. I need to bleach my eyeballs after this.
Profile Image for Alexa.
2,213 reviews11.7k followers
September 4, 2020
Reading a Tamora Pierce novel, even one that’s new to me, always feels a little like coming home. I’m familiar with the Tortall universe, which certainly helps, and it also makes it easier that Beka Cooper (and her friends) quickly found a place in my heart. Very solidly written first installment.
Profile Image for Dichotomy Girl.
2,059 reviews135 followers
March 3, 2023
I am attempting to read all the tortall books in Chronological order.

So I feel like I didn't enjoy this as much this time around, and I'm wondering if it's because I listed to it in audiobook form rather than reading it? Or maybe it was just my mood. I'm going to let my original rating stand. But I might skip the rest of the prequel trilogy and skip to the Alanna books which I've only read once about 8 years ago.

3rd Read: 5/22/2015
2nd Read: 2/1/2012
Original Read: 2/3/2011

Previous Review:

Naughty Naughty Michelle, here I go to update my review of a previously read book only to find that I never reviewed it!

I am a big fan of Tamora Pierce, I love that she writes about strong female characters, and I love how her stories are NOT focused on romance and sex. (though they may contain them).

I originally read this book several years back along with it's sequel, and am now rereading both of them as the third book in the series has been released.

From the Book description: Beka Cooper is a rookie with the law-enforcing Provost's Guard, and she's been assigned to the Lower City. It's a tough beat that's about to get tougher, as Beka's limited ability to communicate with the dead clues her in to an underworld conspiracy. Someone close to Beka is using dark magic to profit from the Lower City's criminal enterprises--and the result is a crime wave the likes of which the Provost's Guard has never seen before.

Beka is a fun character, having been born poor she's tough and ambitious, but is also shy and idealistic and often doubts herself.

If you are a fan of Fantasy and have never read any Tamora Pierce, this series is a great place to start. ( I also really enjoyed Alanna: The First Adventure)
Profile Image for Dee.
486 reviews5 followers
January 14, 2020
I love everything Tamora Pierce writes. She is the best, absolute best, a favourite reread of mine. Thus following yet more personal bad times - this year is proving to be pretty damn awful and not even 6 months in - I naturally went to comfort books. This series https://www.goodreads.com/series/4453... being both my least reread and the earliest Tortall-set (in case things don't perk up I may need lots of reading!), it won.

Even though this is written as an epistolary novel and thus my two least favourite styles - 1st person POV (I'm getting to grips with it) and diary/journal (you only get me to read these if you are a favoured author) it is still an action-packed, well-written, character driven volume. If you are familiar with Ms Pierce's works you will know that she always creates strong, likeable female heroines, brave and smart cute animal companions and yet does not flinch from what were the less than nice and comfortable realities of medieval city living.

The realism is integral to the story - life is tough, good people can be bad, bad people can be good, poverty is a pit to grapple from and not even Beka's fellow guards are exempt from demonstrating the full array of human nature.

You don not need to have read any other of the Tortall https://www.goodreads.com/series/5026... books, but I certainly enjoyed catching the snippets and precursors in the story. And why deprive yourself of excellent reading material? Read them all, they're marvellous!
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,277 reviews45 followers
June 24, 2019
This story is a diary of sorts, detailing the first cases that "Puppy" Beka Cooper deals with as a trainee to become a "Dog" (the equivalent of a police force in this society). Things start out as her mentors investigate the murder of the young great-grandson of the local crime boss. Beka has ties to the toddler's mother who gives Beka a strange stone during her visit. The boy's murder threatens to set off a turf war, providing several potential suspects, and seems to have something to do with the strange stone. Beka learns through her ghost informants that someone is murdering people after they dig up the valuable stones. She also learns of other children going missing in this area of town, taken by the "Shadow Snake". The diary outlines how Beka and her Dogs solve these two cases.

It took me a while to get into this one, but I do like a detective story with a supernatural aspect. Beka is an interesting character. She can hear the whispers of ghosts being carried around town by pigeons, she can also hear tidbits of thoughts if she stands in the dusty whirlwinds around town, and she has a cat that might be a god. All these things aid her in her police work, but she is also very smart. I like her. I might add this series to the several I want to finish over time.
Profile Image for Valerie.
249 reviews74 followers
August 1, 2015
Terrier is just another example of how great an author Tamora Pierce is. The writing is very detailed and although it is hard to believe that a girl would be so diligent in writing a journal it didn't really faze me. Beka is a great kick-butt, female protangonist. She is smart, caring, dedicated, and tough. It's because of this why Beka is called a Terrier.

The imagination of Pierce proves to be limitles as she decribes Tortall. It has knights, magic, beggars, Dogs, slaves, mages, etc. There is really no telling where it could end. I really look forward to reading the second book of this series and see what happens to Beka next.
Profile Image for Laudys.
166 reviews8 followers
December 31, 2013
As I read this book, I entertained the idea that it should be a movie. Now, having finished it, I realize I was wrong. Beka Cooper deserves a BBC mini series, with very well written 3hrs long episodes. The world is so detailed, so real, there is so much life (and death) going on in the Lower City that if a single plot thread were to be eliminated to cram the story into a movie, it would be a shame.

'Cause you see, the Lower City is a crack pot of gamblers, smugglers, slavers, thieves and every other type of criminal you may think of. The people that live there try their best to scrape enough to move up and away or they disappear into the darkness. Some not willingly. And now with little kids vanishing left and right pointing to a Boogeyman the authorities don't even believe in, mysterious magical rocks popping up where they shouldn't and one old criminal lord stirring up trouble, the pot is reaching boiling point. But the Rogue, the one master thief that is supposed to look out for the common folk, is unwilling to do anything about it and the Guard is spread thin as it is.

They should thank their Gods that Rebakah "Beka" Cooper is one stubborn Puppy. With the talent to hear the spirits of the dead carried by the pigeons, she's caught the scent of it all and the hunt for those that prey on the innocent has begun.

"My Dogs don't know what it's like to have no once fighting for them. They do their jobs and that gives them plenty of work, looking out for them that fill the Happy Bags. I won't content myself with filling the Happy Bags. Not ever. The Lower City is mine. Its people are mine- its children are mine. If I find them that's doing all this kidnapping and murdering, they'd best pray for mercy. Because once I get my teeth in 'em, I will never let them go."

That's Beka for you. She may be shy and tongue-tied, but she's fiercely loyal, brave, down to earth and hard working. I never realized how much I had missed this kind of main character until I started following Beka.

Read this book. Forget about all that silly YA crap that's littering the shelves lately, this book has great worldbuilding, a society that actually makes sense, realistic characterization, no cardboard villains, no ridiculous instalove and no moronic unnecessary love triangle. And it has people with common sense! You wouldn't believe how hard it is to find that kind of character lately.
Profile Image for Caroline.
78 reviews2 followers
May 16, 2007
This was the last "for fun" book I got to read before I started teaching last winter. Ever since I arbitrarily grabbed the first of Tamora Pierce's "Circle of Magic" books off the library shelf two years ago, I've been hooked on the ways Pierce plays around with definitions of magic, power, heroes, and humanism...all within a medieval-ish context.

This isn't great literature, but it is an imaginative world that kept me entertained for several months. Tamora Pierce likes to write books in couplets or quartets, so you get to explore her magical worlds through different narrators and across time. "Terrier" is her latest in a long line of books about the Tortall kingdom (though it's the first chronologically): detailing the life of a common girl who wants to protect the slums she grew up in from exploitation and evil-doing.

The book offers a frank look at the complexity of urban law enforcement. Who are the good guys and bad guys? When is physical force required? Is the line between legal and illegal the same as the line between moral and immoral? And, most interesting in my opinion, who *really* governs a city? The guy in the castle, or the lord of the thieves? Which one governs better?

It's also a good old-fashioned detective story, for those of you interested in that genre. A spirited, responsible young girl takes on the nastiest and most vicious criminal of her lifetime...and her only allies are a half-dozen criminals, some wind gusts, and her cat.

Beka Cooper (the "Terrier") has promise. She reminds me of Aly, the heroine of the Trickster couplet. Look for more good stuff about Beka.
Profile Image for Anna 'Bookbuyer'.
665 reviews78 followers
May 24, 2020
I've always been a big fan of Tamora's works and Terrier is no different! I was greatly surprised that the kindly grandmother was the child killer! O.O It just goes to show that the worst of us can hide who they are. -.- I enjoyed learning about Beka and I'm sad how her sisters treat her now that she's a dog. They should be grateful instead of the little bitches they are acting like!

Extra Details:
I'm always surprised at how different the police work from that 'time period' is and today's cops. I know it's a fantasy novel so it's not real history. But that fact that it was accepted that cops would be crooked, drunk, friends with the 'rats' is amazing to me. And how many 'puppies' are lost! I was very sad that Verene died. I was also happy that Rosto killed the old King of the Rogue and I know he is going to be much better!

I can't believe how bad the 'villians' in this story were. They both really surprised me and disgusted me. Grandmother Noll kidnapping and killing children simply because she wanted something from the parents!!! Also Crookshank! He was a horrible old man. :(
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for April Sarah.
541 reviews170 followers
September 13, 2018
This book.... this book. I have fallen in love with Tortall all over again. There is so much nostalgia here and so much new content.

Beka Cooper is such a flawed and wonderful character that is strong in some areas and weak in others. Plus the world structure, magic system, and religious orders are always so well developed. There is just so much here.

Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3Ijb...
Profile Image for Aly.
2,720 reviews
August 24, 2020
This book was not for me. I struggled with the language it used, it seemed both old fashioned and made up and I wasn't always sure what the characters were saying. I also thought the story seemed to have a simple plot and the rest of the book was filler that I could have done without.

Beka isn't a bad character, she's smart and a good fighter. I liked her ability to speak to the dead through birds and her cat Pounce was pretty funny. She was trying to prove herself to the dogs while also solving the mystery behind the kids being killed and I thought she was great at her job.

There were too many characters and I couldn't keep most of them straight. The side fights I didn't understand the point of and there wasn't any romance to keep me interested. The ending gave a glimpse into a possible relationship, but I'm not intrigued enough to continue.
Profile Image for Allison Hurd.
Author 3 books748 followers
April 12, 2017
3.5 Stars

Tamora Pierce is one of my favorite authors. Her heroines are always so honest and well-rounded people who inspire and subtly encourage young women. When I was 10, I found Daine and Alanna, and they opened a whole new world to me of characters who looked like me, and did things maybe I could do. They were flawed but not fatally, and they grew up as I did.

Beka Cooper is another such young heroine. She grew up poor, no stranger to the ravages of fate. She has a small magic, and a huge determination to help people who grew up in the same life she led. I loved her friends and mentors, and even a few hints at old friends, though this book happens about 200 years before those friends show up. I liked the jargon introduced, and the world color.

The book makes a bold choice in the use of narration through journals, and honestly I don't think that helped the story. It was a lot of build up, and a lot of "you couldn't have known this, but it solved the mystery!" type explanations after the fact. Which makes sense in a journal, I suppose, but it wasn't very fun to read with very little foreshadowing. We knew whodunnit less than halfway through, we just didn't know how to catch them doing it until LIKE MAGIC! it's time! Not my favorite, and I know Tamora can write better mysteries.

Also, the tone was strange. She's young, and the premise is that police are officially called Dogs, and trainees are officially called Puppies. Not as slang between those in the profession--this is actually the name of their institution. When all of them are on the same case, they participate in a Growl, and all of them, well, growl, and this is a community thing that is supposed to be a big deal.

So it should be a kid's book, right? All the Dogs should be working to stop a ring of cat burglars or something! Hilarious! Except that isn't the case. There's hints at adult content, drug use, domestic violence, and rape threats, as well as institutional graft and police on the take (through the use of the Happy Bag!) So, as is, it was a little unbelievable and an uncomfortable mindset somewhere between juvenile and hard-bitten police procedural.

The writing was good, the characters were lovely, but the story, tone, themes, and method of storytelling really got in the way of my enjoyment.
Profile Image for Ajax.
16 reviews4 followers
March 31, 2014
Spoilers for all Tortall books follow:

I have a love-and-hate relationship with Tamora Pierce's Tortall books. I found the Alanna quartet poorly written, enjoyed The Immortals, absolutely adored Protector of the Small ( so much so that Kel is now one of my favorite fictional characters ever), liked the Trickster's duo but also found it extremely problematic in certain respects. And then I moved onto Terrier which I'm sorry to say is my least favorite Pierce book that I've read so far. Pierce departed from her usual style and used first person narration here. That would have been fine except that Terrier's heroine, Beka Cooper, has zero humor, sass or sarcasm, and her narration is dry as a bone. An even bigger misstep is to make the first person narrative into a literal diary, which leads to lots of clumsy, tedious sections where Beka is either explaining how she's making the time to record journal entries with all that's going or describing to the reader her own looks. The latter was particularly egregious - who sits and writes their own hair color, eye color and breast size in their diary??

The "mystery" in the book was also not that engaging. Unlike the previous books, there were no surprise moments or twists that made your jaw drop. Even the big "twist" at the end was telegraphed way in advance.

Finally, by the fifth series in the Tortall universe, I think Pierce was struggling to keep things fresh. The previous four series also featured young heroines who fight for justice along with their sassy animal sidekicks, but each series had some element that injected new energy into the proceedings. In Terrier, however, everything feels derivative of what came before - Beka's personality is basically the same as Kel's, except with much less humor and more shyness, her animal sidekick is literally the same as Alanna's, etc. Felt to me like Pierce's whole formula had become stale in this book. I think I'll be rereading Protector of the Small instead of bothering with the rest of the Provost's Dog trilogy.
Profile Image for Ashley Marie .
1,299 reviews393 followers
October 22, 2015
Just when I thought there wasn't much more to be done in Tortall, I heard about this book's release. (prequels ftw). I was hoping Beka would be a closer relative of George, maybe his grandmother or great-grandmother or something rather than what she is (6x great I think?) but it doesn't really matter over the course of the story itself. After one installment, Beka is well on her way to being one of my favorites of Tammy's characters (although I highly doubt I could pick a favorite of her leading ladies, they all kick ass so hard and it's fantastic). I LOVE her relationship with Pounce, and Tunstall and Goodwin are brilliant. Aniki sounds like an awesome friend to have, although I'm still not 100% sure about Rosto. I suspect that much will change in the coming books. I think part of the appeal of this book was knowing that it was another Tortall adventure -- I sincerely believe I will never get tired of this world. I wasn't sure what to expect when it came to the main character being a rookie cop, but the whole story was so well-written and I loved every bit of it.

One note: this was the first Tortall book to make me cry. That burial scene was a beautiful kick in the gut. All of the applause, Tammy! Thankfully I already own the next 2 books so there's no reason not to dive straight into them.
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