Monday, April 18, 2011

Beka Cooper

I've run out of short stories to tell, but that doesn't mean I'm through writing posts for the Witches in Fiction blog party!

Today I would like to tell you about one of my favorite witches in fiction: Beka Cooper, from Tamora Pierce's Beka Cooper quartet. The first book is Terrier, the second is Bloodhound, and the third (unreleased) is Mastiff.

Beka isn't called a witch. In fact I don't think she's called anything. Not even mage or hedgewitch. But she's got magic, and I think that for the purposes of Witches in Fiction that makes her a witch. As for how her magic shows itself...

Now first of all, I've got to explain that in her world pigeons carry the ghosts of those who aren't ready to move on to the Peaceful Realms (their afterlife). This is a key point because Beka can hear their voices. When she was very small her mother was afraid that she was crazy, but fortunately her grandmother happened to know that it was a bit of family magic.

Because of this magic Beka feeds the pigeons on a very regular basis, and it's not unusual for the birds to seek her out. This is a win-win arrangement -- the winged nuisances get fed, and Beka gets info. Oh, did I mention that Beka is law enforcement? Hearing the voices of the dead can be helpful when trying to solve a murder, especially when they're complaining about who killed them and how.

Sound strange? Maybe. But the other way that her magic shows up is even weirder, and I think it's cooler.

Throughout Beka's city are things called dust spinners. Dust spinners are basically small vortexes of wind that generally go unnoticed. They stay in one place, collect dust, and more importantly they also collect snatches of conversation.

When Beka steps into a dust spinner she is able to hear the snatches of conversation that have been collected. This is also a bit of family magic, and it's something else that's useful to her as law enforcement.

Last but not least, is the cat you may have noticed on the cover of the Terrier. That cat is Pounce, and he's a purple eyed black cat who she found in a stable. Pounce has made her his friend, and is fond of giving her advice. Yep, he's a talking cat. If that doesn't make her a witch, what does? ;)


Magaly Guerrero said...

Beka sounds like my kind of witch--her magic is so natural that there isn't any reason for naming her skills. I love this world. I know I've been saying that I can't add any other books to my list until I put a significant dent on my to-be-read pile, but... *grinning wickedly* I think Pounce purple eyes enthralled me ;-D

Sarita Rucker said...

Pounce is one of my favorites. And you should definitely add this to your "to read" list!

FYI, Tamora Pierce had already written some other novels about Beka Cooper's descendants 200 years in the future. ("Song of the Lioness" quartet, to name just one.) This book is written in diary style and the first entry of the first book is written by one of her descendants. It's sort of the prologue, preparing the reader for what's to come. That particular entry is one that can only be fully appreciated by someone who has read "Song of the Lioness", but it doesn't give anything away about those books for anyone who hasn't already read them.