Now that I have figured out where Beka fits into the Tortall world’s history, I am much happier. Taking place sometime before Song of the Lioness, when Lady Knights were still allowed, Beka is the ancestor of George Cooper, Alanna’s husband.
We’ve learned about Beka’s first adventures while training to become a Dog (police officer) in the Lower City. Now we rejoin her, once she’s become a full Dog but has yet to find her permanent partner. She rescues and abused scent hound and is sent, together with Clary Goodwin (her former Dog trainer and now sometime partner) up to Port Caynn to uncover a plot of counterfeit coins that threatens to destroy the economy.
It’s hard to really see the relation between this book and the other Tortall series, besides some common places and terms.The magic seems different and odd and the king and knights are more a side note than part of the story, but still the world is engrossing. Beka is a character who will never give up, no matter the danger or the hopelessness. She still struggles with her family, intimacy, and shyness, but she must learn to navigate a new city and dig to figure out just how deep the scam–and corruption–runs.
The thing I love most about these books is that they are more fleshed out than her other books. As Pierce said herself “Publishers discovered with Harry [Potter] that kids will read a lot of fantasy, and they’ll read big books.” I’m glad about that. What I always felt her other books were missing were the space they needed to fully develop. They always felt a little too rushed for me, but the Beka Cooper books are longer and seem to envelop the world more completely.
My only regret is that we didn’t get to see more of Beka’s time as a Puppy, but there are certainly worse things to be sorry about. There are also some characters from Book 1 that I would have liked to see more of (Aniki and Kora and the Rogue), but I think we can expect their return in Book 3. I missed Pounce a great deal (and wonder if he is related to Alanna’s kitten, Faithful).
What surprises me most about Pierce’s different books is that I enjoy them so much despite not building up to one big finale. I usually prefer a series to have an overarching story, in the way that Harry Potter did, but Pierce makes her books about the main character and brings them to life.