I listened to the Beka Cooper series after reading a few gushing reviews by people like Nori. This is the first of her series to take place chronologically but not the first to be written.
The world building for this series is exceptional. There are even new words used for common things like mot = woman and after a bit it seems totally normal. That leads to:
There are some of the best insults ever in this series. I can’t give you examples since I listened on audio and can’t find an example quickly but believe me, there are long bursts of descriptive language that leave you with no doubt how the speaker feels.
Beka has flings with men. Think about how many young female protagonists are allowed to be romantically involved with someone who they don’t eventually spend their lives with. Not many.
Magical Cat. What else do you need to know? He helps where he is allowed by the gods but otherwise lounges about like a normal cat. If it is raining on a trip he takes himself to the celestial realm until it stops because he is not going to inconvenience himself by getting wet.
The finest scent hound in the land is a side character in book one but becomes Beka’s partner in the second book. The scene with her being beaten by her bad handler in book two made me teary. I was a bit concerned in book three because I have a strict rule that if an author kills the dog, then the author is dead to me. I don’t care if that is a spoiler – ACHOO MAKES IT THROUGH THE SERIES FINE. Now that that’s out of the way, you can relax and enjoy the series.
The Blessed Mother
There are lots of gods and religions here but in book three there is an hilarious send up of fundamentalist religion. Women are called to stay protected and not worry their pretty little brains with things like thinking for themselves. This annoys the female police and knights in the story and probably the female slaves who need to wait on these precious female devotees of the Blessed Mother but no one probably considered their feelings.
Beka has long hair that she wears in a braid but we all know that that is a liability when fighting so she braids a strip of spikes through it. If someone grabs her braid they cut their hand. I had really long hair as a kid and I wish I had thought of this because people pulled my braid all the time.
The souls of the dead ride to the Black God on pigeons. Sometimes if they have something to say they come to someone who can hear them like Beka can. I found myself staring at pigeons when I was in Chicago, just in case.
Beka can talk to dust spinners too. Dust spinners are those collections of winds that whirl in corners. They trap debris and parts of conversations. It is polite to give them an offering of dirt from another area if you want them to talk to you.
People have feelings about this series. I got this comment on my monthly wrap up.
Elizabeth: “I can’t remember if I ever ended up commenting on your review for Terrier, but I’m so excited you’re reading this series!! …I’ll be interested to see what you think about the ending of the last book.”
Me: “Oh no! Is it bad? I’m getting close to the end of audio of Mastiff and things aren’t going well. Now I’m even more nervous”
Elizabeth: “It is literally the only Tamora Pierce book I violently disagree with. And if you’re getting nervous..well, hopefully you won’t judge the rest of her books by this ending haha. I really, REALLY loved the first two books and I’ve never read anything by her that I didn’t love so I had a hard time processing this – it might not be nearly so bad for you haha! But when you’re done let me know because I have been DYING to talk to someone about it!!”
I was about 4 hours from the end of Mastiff and now I HAD TO KNOW what was going to happen. We’ve processed our feelings now by email.
I also tried to explain my feelings on this series to my husband. “I thought the dog was in trouble but the cat helped her.”
“That’s not natural. Cats wouldn’t help the dog.”
“This one did. There are also horses that kick men’s faces in if they get uppity.”
“This is why I stick to nonfiction.”