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Terrier (Beka Cooper)
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Gr 7 Up-Orphaned Beka Cooper, 16, is a trainee-a "Puppy"-in the Provost's Guard. Having spent the first half of her life in Tortall's slums, she is driven by the need to do what is right and see justice done. Paired with two of the best Guards, or "Dogs," in the organization and aided by her own gifts of magic, Beka learns her job, makes friends with two mages and a thief, and uncovers two serial killers who prey on the poor and unnoticed. With Terrier, Pierce tries out a new style of storytelling and succeeds admirably. Beka, the ancestor of George Cooper from the "Song of the Lioness" series (S & S), tells her story through journal entries, making for a thoroughly engaging read. The characters are recognizable types, but all have their own personalities. Readers will enjoy meeting the Lady Knight Sabine of Macayhill, Alanna's precursor in profession and temperament; Rosto the Piper; and Beka's friends. The level of violence is comparable to that found in "The Circle Opens" series (Scholastic) but isn't as gratuitous. This seems mostly to be due to the journal format, which gives readers only Beka's thoughts and feelings as opposed to those of the killers as well. With its rollicking adventure, appealing characters, and inclusion of Tortall's history, Terrier will be in strong demand by Pierce's fans. It will keep readers on the edge of their seats.-Lisa Prolman, Greenfield Public Library, MA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Pierce returns to the Tortall Realms for a new series, a kind of prequel to those of her popular "sheroes" Alanna, Kel and Aly. Her latest heroine is not a lady knight but a "Puppy," a police trainee whose talents lift her from the slums to the manor of Lord Gershom. The noble takes in Beka's impoverished family after the girl, at age eight, demonstrates near-magical abilities in law enforcement. Beka, now 16, begins her story with her first night on the job, told through journal entries. Assigned to two of the best Dogs (veteran officers) in the Jane Street kennel, Beka quickly distinguishes herself, assisted by winged informants (pigeons who carry the ghosts of murdered children and whisper only to Beka) and her aide-de-camp, Pounce, the purple-eyed cat (who will be familiar to Alanna devotees). Beka is drawn to solve two major crimes: one involving the disappearance of people hired to dig beneath the Lower City in search of precious "fire opals," and a scarier thread about the kidnapping and murder of children by a creature known only as the "Shadow Snake." Despite many action-packed scrapes with thieves and rogues, the pace lags a bit in this series opener. Fans of Pierce's previous forays into medieval fantasy, however, will likely savor every page, and Beka herself is a brave battler who shoulders an unwieldy narrative with nearly as much ease as she hobbles a cutpurse. Ages 10-13. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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