Title: Mastiff (Beka Cooper Book Three)
Author: Tamora Pierce
Genre: Young Adult, Sword & Sorcery
Publisher: Random House (25th October 2011)
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 Guards. 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 ar 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 Hunts, 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 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 place 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.
Rating: ***** (5 stars)
Mastiff is the third and final book in Tamora Pierce’s brilliant Beka Cooper trilogy. It is also the fifth series set in the Tortall ‘verse, although it is set before any of the other books in the ‘verse. As such it allows the reader a peek into a time before the world they are familiar with from The Song of the Lioness Quartet or Protector of the Small Quartet. Mastiff shows the work of the Provost’s Guard, as by this point Beka has completed her training, which is similar to the modern-day police.
Like the pervious two books in the trilogy, Mastiff is narrated by Beka Cooper through her diary. To be honest, this is generally not a format I like – I struggled with it in Terrier – but as the Beka Cooper trilogy progressed I’ve found myself quite enjoying it. I like the fact that a glossary is provided at the end of the book, so that if you’re not sure of a word’s meaning it’s easy to find out, and the narrative isn’t littered with a lot of explanation for words.
I liked the plot of this, and the twist at the end of Beka’s story. I was pleased that by the start of the book Beka has become established in her role as a Provost’s Guard – she’s no longer a puppy, or freshly trained. The time gap was a brilliant device, as a lot can happen in three years that may explain future events. The only thing I wasn’t totally sure about was the relationship between her and her fiancé who is killed. Yet, I think there is possible scope for it from previous characterization. I liked the fact that in this book we finally receive the explanation as to why there stopped being female knights so that when Alanna’s story (The Song of the Lioness Quartet) came along they were just legends.
Mastiff was the perfect ending to the Beka Cooper Trilogy, as it tied the ends up nicely. I found the main plot engaging, and the subplots believable. I think Pierce was very fair to her characters, because she made them human – she allowed them to make mistakes.
If you haven’t guessed, I’m a huge Pierce fan; I really enjoyed this, and would recommended the series (because it really should be read in order) to anyone who likes fantasy and wants to read about female heroes (sheroes).