Friday, April 22, 2011

Terrier: A Tortall Legend

"The Lower City is mine, its people 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."

Title: Terrier: A Tortall Legend

Author: Tamora Pierce

ISBN: 978-0-375-81468-6

Publisher: Random House Children's Books

Copyright: 2006

Plot Summary: Terrier is the tale of Beka Cooper, a Lower City kid rescued by the Provost of Tortall, and her initiation into the Provost's Guard, or as they are more commonly known, as the Provost's Dogs. Her initiation period results in her being called a Puppy and being assigned to the two most famous Dogs of their time: Tunstall and Goodwin. Slowly, a devious plot unfolds as Beka, Tunstall, and Goodwin uncover clues that are linked together by their detective work, the Dogs' birdies, and Beka's own magical ability to hear the souls of the dead inhabiting pigeons and dust spinners. While adjusting to her whole new life, Beka also has to deal with her siblings growing up in the Provost's house and looking down upon her new job, as well as the appearance of three new Rogues who threaten to unbalance the entire underworld of Tortall. It doesn't help that one of the newcomers is a handsome Rogue who catches her eye...

Critical Evaluation: The format of Terrier is of journal entries written by Beka as part of her Dog training at the end of each day's shift. While this format slightly puts off readers due to its storytelling technique instead of putting the readers straight into each day in the life of a Dog, it is a different format that was perhaps used simply to be different. Pierce misses the gripping immediacy of police and detective novels by making each chapter reminiscing about the day, rather than being able to include the details that would truly grip a reader. Regarding the plot itself, it unfolded itself in a intriguing manner, giving up details and planting red herrings like a true detective novel. The ending was surprising as well despite small hints that were slipped into the action. The characters of Terrier, especially Beka, are strong, but the side characters could have had more back story and development.

Reader's Annotation: Beka Cooper grew up in the Lower City of Tortall, a rough neighborhood where people disappearing is often overlooked. Once she enrolls as a Provost's Guard, Beka will hunt down those responsible for harming her fellow Lower City citizens, wherever they go.

Information About the Author: Tamora Pierce was born in Pennsylvania in 1954 and grew up reading everything she could get her hands on. After moving to California in 1963, Pierce started writing and has not stopped since.
Pierce is the author of an extensive amount of books for children and young adults. She has written fourteen novels set in the world of Tortall, of which Terrier also takes place. Read more about the author at her website.

Genre: Fantasy; Police Fiction

Curriculum Ties N/A

Booktalking Ideas:
  • How is Beka Cooper a strong protagonist and narrator, other than her physical abilities that surpasses that of the normal Puppy? How do her morals and her loyalty tie into this?
Reading Level: 14+

Challenge Issues N/A

Why This Book?: Staff recommendation

Reference Page:
Pierce, T. (2006). Terrier: A Tortall Legend. New York: Random House Children's Books.

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