Having previously read some of Tamora Pierce’s earliest works, I’ve now read one of her more recent. To a certain extent, not a lot has changed: female-centric YA fantasy (in fact, it’s in the same world as those earlier books).
There are some important differences though. The Alanna series felt predictable to me, whereas Terrier had a more solid and cohesive plot that never telegraphed more than broad outlines to me. Less importantly, but more obviously, the book is written as a series of first-person journal entries, a device that generally works for the story, though elements of it are repetitive and grating. (I’m mystified by the blurb making such a big deal about it; stories that are better told in first-person are, those that aren’t aren’t.)
On the similarities side, it sticks to the formula of a strong young female, with magic as an important, but not central, part of the world and plot. Beka is more rough-and-tumble than other main characters, having a lower-class background, though she has moved up.
There’s an indication that the tension between her desires and that of her immediate family could get more treatment in a later book; it’s a theme that gets a couple scenes here, but is otherwise ignored. Pierce is not a favorite author of mine, but she’s always more than good enough to return to, and I want to get the next two books.