Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: Beka Cooper #2
Genre: High Fantasy
Publisher: Random House
Beka Cooper has finally become a full-fledged Dog. (For those of you who missed that trilogy starter, "Dogs" are the guards who serve under Lord Provost to keep the peace in Tortall.) In her first important assignment, she and her partner Goodwin must sniff out the culprits in an international counterfeit money scheme. Leaving the familiar behind, they are thrust into a world of magic, schemes, and betrayal, and if they make one false move, the punishment could be worse than death.
Again I apologize if this review is pretty much a novel...I just can't help but rave about all the things I adore in a book when I really truly have fallen in love with it. Bloodhound started off amazing just like Terrier did. The perfect blend of plot, mystery and character development make for some excellent reading material. Right from the beginning, I absolutely loved the mixture of characters! You have Rosto the Rogue, who aside from being incredibly sexy, caring, and sensitive, controls pretty much all of the organized crime in the country's capital. He lives in the same building as two "Dogs" which if you didn't read my review of Terrier, are basically police officers for the lower city...the equivalent of the ghetto. Then there are two gorgeous but deadly criminal women/assassins, and one lady of the city all meeting together to have breakfast. There is such a hilarity when this group gets together. It is just this side of legal and I just love the way they all function together as friends outside the roles they have chosen in their own lives. And that was just chapter one.
The main plot revolved around a counterfeit ring that is hurting the city. I really never thought about how big of a deal counterfeiting can be. It makes a country's entire treasury almost completely worthless and causes prices for regular goods and services to soar to extreme heights. Beka and Goodwin head out to Port Caynn, a port city close to their home in Corus where they believe that the counterfeit silver coins are coming from. One of the reasons I really liked Terrier was that there was all sorts of things going on. There was a kidnapper, and a murderer, and she was struggling to find her place as a Dog, but Bloodhound was much simpler, and at the same time more complex. Though the plot was centralized on counterfeiting and stopping a country's entire treasury from going bad, there were so many aspects that Pierce thought to add to the story to make it freaking fantastic. We got to learn more about cage dogs, and the horrific violence that torturing people entails. Goodwin enlists the help of a silver smith to figure out the mess with counterfeit money, which led to me learning way more about silver than I ever wanted to. Friends turn out to be enemies, and one particular enemy turns out to be a great deal of help. I won't give away major plot points, but I am SO hoping he comes back in the next book because his abrupt departure from this one really had me questioning his character, and I have a sneaking suspicion that he will be important in some way in Mastiff. Overall, the plot was freaking fantastic. I enjoyed every single minute of it.
This book introduces a whole new cast of fascinating characters. Pearl Skinner is the Rogue of Port Caynn. Though I thought it was great that the Rogue was a female (yay feminism!) it kind of hurt that she was a spoiled and selfish Rogue. I hated the way she spoke to Beka and Goodwin. I seriously wanted to get up and shove my fist into her smug face when she was threatening them....That's how attached I've grown to Beka, Goodwin...the whole lot of them. Also new in this book...Dale Rowen. Dale is a hired hand who works for the goldsmith's guild, and who is also a slightly seedy gambler. That doesn't stop him from being extremely witty, charming, and DEFINITELY romantic. In fact, he ends up stealing the heart and erm...affections...of our darling miss Beka...I wasn't sure how I felt about that. I love Rosto so much! And if Beka's willing to be with a gambler, why won't she be with the Rogue??? Dale was so amazingly charming that I kind of fell in love with him myself. Pierce really knows how to get a girl's heart all a flutter and for a young adult book with very mild sexual dialogue and actions...I found myself in need of a cold shower occasionally...lol... at first I was sad at how their relationship ended, but when I thought about it, I was actually okay with it. Because then there is Rosto. Who she should have been with instead of Dale anyways...but whatever...now she can get back to being with her true love. Which is Rosto. Because he's better. And he's Rosto. Rosto=awesome. Ok..I'm done...but just in case you didn't catch it...I'm Team Rosto...
One of the most fascinating characters was Oka A.K.A. The Amber Orchid. He/She is the first transvestite I have seen in any form of YA fiction, and even adult fiction (though I'm sure there's one out there.) Oh I've seen plenty of cross dressers. Usually women who dress as men in order to get ahead due to male superiority and chauvinism. But Oka is the first homosexual man who identifies with the opposite sex, and acts on it. I find him authentic and believable in both of his personas and he is utterly fascinating. For some reason I tend to picture transvestites as over feminized divas...but Oka/Amber isn't at all. He has a lover, Lord Nester, and their relationship is cute and really believable. Transgender characters might make some people uncomfortable, but I thought Oka's sexuality was dealt with an a delicate yet descriptive manner. I found nothing at all offensive about it and I really REALLY enjoyed the parts he/she played in the mystery of the plot. His complexity eventually led to him becoming one of my favorites of the new characters, and I'm hoping he pops up in Mastiff as well, though with the ending of this book, that doesn't seem likely.
I loved seeing things from the other quartets pop up. We not only have Beka, George Cooper's ancestor, but in this book we have Sir Lionel, who is Alanna's ancestor. We also get to see the building and completion of the Dancing Dove, which is relevant in all of the other series set in Tortall. I'm sure if I looked harder (or had the Song of the Lioness quartet more fresh in my mind) I would be able to find more instances of the past/present colliding and what not. Also, at the beginning of the Song of the Lioness quartet (Alanna) women are considered part of the "fairer" sex, which leads to the whole Alanna having to pretend to be a boy to be a night...However, the Beka Cooper series takes place several centuries before the Alanna one, and the women of that time are held in much more esteem and have equal rights (ish). I found this very odd, but in Bloodhound, we kind of get an idea where that belief comes from with the sect of "the gentle goddess" who takes what was a strong and fearless woman goddess and turns her into a simpering pampered princess figure. I just thought it was cool to see the development of history playing out in such an abnormal fashion.
Um...well if my ranting didn't give it away already, OBVIOUSLY I give Bloodhound a 5 out of 5 Keys. I loved every aspect of the story and would probably pick it up right now and read it again if I didn't have such an out of control TBR pile. From the love story to the plot to the characters. Every single piece of the story fell together to make something truly magical. I need to go buy this book so that I have it with me to re-read. If you haven't read anything by Tamora Pierce yet, please do! They are seriously fantastic and I can't get enough of them!