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Review: Mastiff by Tamora Pierce

Saturday, December 17, 2011
5 Stars: Incredible
Series: Beka Cooper #3
Hardback: 592 Pages
Publication Random House Books for Young Readers

The Hunt is on!

Three years have passed since Beka Cooper almost died in the sewers of Port Caynn, and she is now a respected member of the PRovost's Guard. But her life takes an unexpected turn when her fiancé is killed on a slave raid. Beka is faced with a mixture of emotions as, unbeknownst to many, she was about to call the engagement off.

It is as Beka is facing these feelings that Lord Gershom appears at her door. Within hours, Beka; her partner, Tunstall; her scent hound, Achoo; and an unusual but powerful mage are working on an extremely secretive case that threatens the future of the Tortallan royal family, and therefore the entire Tortallan government. As Beka delves deeper into the motivations of the criminals she now Hunters, she learns of deep-seated political dissatisfaction, betrayal, and corruption. These are people with power, money, and influence. They are able to hire the most skilled of mages, well versed in the darkest forms of magic. And they are nearly impossible to identify.

This case--a Hunt that will take her to places she's never been--will challenge Beka's tracking skills beyond the city walls, as well as her ability to judge exactly whom she can trust with her life and her country's future.

Mastiff was definitely worth waiting a couple years for. It is by far the largest book I have read by Tamora Pierce, and I loved every moment of it: from when I first opened it around noon to when I read the last pages close to midnight. I couldn't put it down. I was so caught up in the magical world that Tamora Pierce created.

Beka is still the brilliant, honest young woman whose character I have loved from the first book. She is the one I would want watching my back on a Hunt. While Beka is out of her element with the nobility, she adapts to new situations and does what is necessary to complete the Hunt. I enjoyed learning what the rest of Tortall was like back in her time along with her.

Along with Beka, Mastiff brings back a lovable set old friends from a brief glimpse at her rogue friends to friends at Port Caynn and more action time with Pounce, Achoo, Tunstall, and Sabine. As for their new companion, I completely fell in love with Farmer. He is such a sweet darling. I love how he feigns silliness--is silly--and hides the immense power that he wields. I love how he is caring, loves his job as a Dog mage, and will both protect and let a girl protect him. Halfway through the book, I was hoping that something would develop between Beka.

I was very satisfied with the outcome of the novel. Even, as it turns out, with the twist. While I'm still struggling to come to terms with the motives behind it, I have to accept that there is only one person who could do such a thing. There have also been mixed reviews about the twist and about the large amount of violence in this book, but with such high stakes in this novel, I feel that it is only to be expected. I admire how Tamora Pierce isn't afraid to do what is needed to write a good novel. Mastiff is a definitely one of her best if not the best so far.

Beka faces greater danger than before. She meets new friends, fights powerful enemies, travels all over Tortall,  and faces the greatest betrayal, all with the future of Tortall on the line. It's no wonder that Mastiff is the conclusion to the Beka Cooper trilogy. As Beka asks, what can be greater than what she manages to accomplish over the course of this journey (and it is not only about saving the royal family)!

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