Book Title: Terrier
Author: Tamora Pierce
Category: fiction: young adult, fiction: fantasy
I love YA fiction, and have continued to read it, even though I’m not particularly the target audience anymore. But it does seem that more and more ‘adults’ are reading ‘young adult’ fiction. Or at least more are admitting to doing so. (In fact, there was recently an article in the New York Times about this phenomenon.*) I have several authors, series, characters that I return to when I am stressed, upset, or busy. Characters I already have attachments too, authors I know I enjoy and respect, series that I have already grown to love, comfort me, or more accurately, take me away from whatever is occupying my time and mind at that moment.
Tamora Pierce, and her many series of books set in the imaginary realm of Tortall, provide me a familiar place to escape to in times of trouble. Her Tortall series interweave their storylines, but in a subtle way that longtime readers admire, and first time readers will eventually notice. Pierce’s Song of the Lioness quartet introduce the character of Alanna, a young girl of a noble family, who does not want to become a proper noble lady, and instead hides her identity, and becomes a knight of the realm. Her second quartet, The Immortals, brings us her character Daine, a young woman with a unique magic, coming to Tortall from outside the borders of the realm, and using her talents to become a well respected, if unconventional member of the royal court. Then, in The Protector of the Small quartet, we meet Keladry of Mindelan, or Kel, who is the first girl to follow in Alanna’s footsteps and become a knight, not being forced to hide her true identity, Kel faces many different challenges as she works towards her goal. We see more of the realm of Tortall with the Trickster series, following the exploits of Alanna’s daughter, who forges a much different path than her mother.
Terrier, as the first of the Beka Cooper series, acts as a prequel, taking readers to a time when Tortall was different than we first saw it, and follows the life of Beka Cooper, a distant ancestor of a character we first meet in The Song of the Lioness. The novel is written as a journal, but a journal used as a memory tool for Beka’s work in the Provost’s Guard, so it remains incredibly detailed.
I have been reading Tamora Pierce’s novels for at least a decade now, (or perhaps longer,) since I received the first book of The Immortals series for Christmas one year, and I have never been disappointed by a main character or a series. While Pierce’s protagonists are all strong female characters, they do not become mundane, nor are they simply variations on one character. She continually creates new and exciting stories to tell, and a wide range of character with which to tell them. I would recommend any of her books to anyone.
I have had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Pierce three times, twice at bookstores in Victoria and Vancouver, and once at a Harry Potter Conference in Toronto in 2007, where she delivered a Sunday Keynote address, on the impact that JK Rowling has had on Children’s and YA literature, especially in how she has changed publisher’s opinions on the acceptable length of a YA novel. If you peruse Tamora Pierce’s books in order of release date, you can see the exact time that publishers began to accept lengthier books written for teams, and this added freedom is reflected in the depth of character development that Pierce is able to go to in the Protector of the Small series, as compared to her previous volumes.
Terrier is a unique, and intriguing book, and I have lost track of the amount of times I have read it from cover to cover, and this re-reading will by no means be my last.
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Tamora Pierce can be found online at http://www.tamora-pierce.com/
*I seem to have lost the link to this article, if any has it handy, please comment!