Mastiff by Tamora Pierce

The Legend of Beka Cooper gives Tamora Pierce’s fans exactly what they want—a smart and savvy heroine making a name for herself on the mean streets of Tortall’s Lower City—while offering plenty of appeal for new readers as well.

Beka and her friends will face their greatest and most important challenge ever when the young heir to the kingdom vanishes. They will be sent out of Corus on a trail that appears and disappears, following a twisting road throughout Tortall. It will be her greatest Hunt—if she can survive the very powerful people who do not want her to succeed in her goal.

Having just recently finished Bloodhound, I was very eager to read Mastiff. I actually picked it up at the bookstore and read the first few pages before forcing myself to put it down since I already had it on order from the library.

When Mastiff starts off you’re immediately thrown into the happenings of Beka’s world. A few years have passed since the adventures of her last journal, and her fiance has just been killed. What few people know is that Beka had been planning on calling off the engagement and now all her thoughts of Holborn and her grief are twisted up with guilt. But soon enough she has a hunt to distract her, and it’s a chase like she’s never been on before.

Brought to the Summer Palace in secrecy, Beka and her partner Tunstall learn that four-year old Prince Gareth has been kidnapped by slavers. Not only is he the sole heir to the throne, his kidnappers have also cast a spell over him so that his parents will also suffer any harm that befalls him. It’s up to Beka and her scent hound Achoo to follow the Prince’s trail and find him before the enemies of the royal family take control of the realm. She’s joined by Tunstall, Lady Sabine and a Mage named Farmer.

Even though the stakes are much higher in this book, I found Bloodhound to be a more exciting read. Which is not to say I didn’t enjoy this book! Totally did. The pacing here just felt a little slower, but this book had a lot to say. While slaves are mentioned in the first two books of the series, in this story they become the focus. And slavery is by no means light subject matter. Due to that, this is a much darker book with more death and cruelty.

With the events that take place in this story you can begin to see how Tortall in Alanna’s time came to be. While Lady Knight’s are still fairly common in Beka’s timeline, this book shows us a new set of characters who have very different ideas about the role of women, and those ideas do not include ladies wielding swords.

Beka was a thoroughly enjoyable character to read about. She’s strong without being unbelievable and has a lot of personality. I must say though, I had a hard time getting as attached to the other characters in this series (Pounce and Achoo being two large exceptions). I think this is because Beka spends so much time traveling around and meeting new people during the course of the books. Everyone is very well written, but events just don’t pack as much of a punch when they happen to someone who was only recently introduced. Of course, just as I was thinking this to myself something MAJOR happens with one of the characters we’ve actually gotten a chance to know. That’s why I like Tamora Pierce. She knows how to keep things interesting.

My one quibble was the romance. Not that I didn’t like it, just that it seemed awfully rushed towards the end. It had a great slow buildup and then BAM! Instalove. It wasn’t completely unbelievable given the circumstances, but it still didn’t sit quite right with me.

Conclusion: Not my favorite of Beka’s storyline, but still quite enjoyable.

Mastiff on Goodreads & Amazon


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