Terrier is a young adult fantasy novel by Tamora Pierce, the first book in the Provost's Dog trilogy and the fifteenth book set in the Tortall Universe. It tells the story of Rebakah "Beka" Cooper, the ancestor of George Cooper from Song of the Lioness and Alianne from Trickster's Choice and Trickster's Queen. It is set 200 years prior to the bulk of the Tortall novels.
The story is told in the form of a series of journal entries made by Beka Cooper as she trains to become a Dog, a nickname for the guards in the employ of the Lord Provost of Tortall, with a prelude taken from Eleni Cooper's diary in which she relates Beka's story to her son George. Beka is also the surrogate daughter of the Provost, having helped him capture a band of dangerous criminals when she was only 8 years old.
Beka begins her training assigned as a Puppy to the two senior Dogs in the Lower City: Clara "Clary" Goodwin and Matthias "Mattes" Tunstall. Though the dogs are initially unsure of their new charge, Beka proves to be a valuable resource. Through Beka's unusual magical abilities, she is able to hear the voices of ghosts who ride the backs of pigeons until they are ready to enter the Peaceful Realms, and hear conversations caught by "dust spinners". From these sources she learns of two grave threats to the Lower City. One is the Shadow Snake, a ruthless killer who abducts children to force their parents to give up their most prized possessions and kills the children if not paid. The other is an unknown party who keeps hiring digging crews to search for fire opals, swearing the workers to secrecy, and killing them when the job is done. Beka's determination to see both parties brought to justice will place her in the middle of a power struggle in Tortall's underworld. Beka's cat, Pounce, helps Beka throughout the book. Pounce has purple eyes and is it has been observed that he may be god marked. It has also been mentioned that Pounce seems to have a likeness to Faithful, Alanna's cat in the Song of the Lioness quartet, also written by Tamora Pierce. It is worth noting that the first name that is suggested for Faithful was "Pounce."
Rebakah (Beka) Cooper: Beka is a 16 year old girl with a very strong sense of justice; her love for the people of the Lower City she grew up in leads her to request a placement there, a job most Dogs would rather avoid. Beka has the ability to hear the voice of the restless spirits that ride the backs of pigeons, and to hear the voices that drift into the city's dust spinners. Because of her special abilities and her relationship and training with the Lord Provost, Beka begins the story with a rather arrogant attitude, assuming she will be promoted to full Dog faster than any Puppy in history. Beka also is very nervous around strangers and has trouble with public speaking. She sees this as her greatest flaw. She writes in her journal that she has feelings for Rosto, feelings she won't let him know. To quote, "He makes me tingle."
Rosto the Piper: Rosto is a young man of Scanran ancestry and questionable loyalties. He has very pale skin, white blond hair and black eyes. He also has a large amount of scars and blade wounds on his arms and face. He scorns the current Rogue of Corus as having lost his grip, and later usurps the 'throne' (gaining him yet another scar) and becomes King of the Rogue. Rosto has two girl friends who came with him from Scanra: Aniki, a swordswoman, and Kora, a mage. Beka first meets the three in a bar, when Rosto stops the barman from harassing Beka. Later, they meet in the Court of the Rogue, where, presumably, the threesome were scouting out the competition. Rosto, Aniki, and Kora become very good friends with Beka throughout into the story, even moving into her boarding house and sharing breakfast with her. Rosto often flirts with Beka, who doesn't really appreciate it. This flirtation comes to a head when Rosto kills the Rogue and when telling his friends of his victory, kisses Beka in celebration.
Tunstall and Goodwin: The Dog partners Beka is assigned to, said to be the best pair in the whole city. They go to the Court of the Rogue to collect the Happy Bag (slang for a sizeable bribe, which the underpaid Dogs live on). Matthias Tunstall, called Mattes by friends, is a tall man who comes from the eastern hills. He is almost always friendly-sounding, even when issuing dire threats. Clara Goodwin, called Clary by friends, is a brunette woman renowned for her tough personality, and holds the city record for the most successfully delivered 'nap taps' (a baton strike to the jaw that causes unconsciousness if done right, and a broken jaw if not). The pair are known to nearly everyone in the slums, and, at first, are somewhat put out at getting a Puppy, feeling that any Puppy would be a liability in their hazardous job. When they learn about Beka's talents, magical and otherwise, they soften up and accept her.