I absolutely love Tamora Pierce. Except for her Circle of Magic series, there isn't a book she has written that I don't devour in three days flat. Building even more upon her Legends of Tortall history and geography, Pierce has delivered yet again.
Beka Cooper is the ancestress of George Cooper, the wiley Thief turned Rogue who plays an important role in the Song of the Lioness series. The first book of this newest trilogy is a first person narrative of Beka's year as a Puppy, a Dog-in-Training. The Dogs are Tortall's police force, and they are extremely tough characters down in the Cesspool, where Beka works and grew up. Readers will remember that Alanna was unique because she was a woman fighter, but Beka's books take place in a time before the idealization of women as gentle and unsuited for any kind of labor.
As usual, Pierce presents us with a strong female character, without compromising her feminine characteristics. In this second installment, we witness Beka coming into her own as a woman, learning how to balance her violent work with her emotional and sexual needs. Beka is a good role model for any young girl.
Beyond the message, the book is just downright fun to read. As I said earlier, I fly through Pierce's books like a dog through his dinner. Pierce is simply a great young adult author. She knows how to write for her age group target, she doesn't patronize or expect them to know more than they do. The action moves along quickly but doesn't overwhelm the finer aspects of the plot. As always, I cannot wait until the next book, though I am always sad to finish them.