Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mastiff by Tamora Pierce

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 for the unexpected when her fiancĂ© 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 himself appears at her door. In the span of hours Beka, her partner Tunstall, her scent-dog Achoo, and a unusual but powerful mage are plunged into a case under an extreme veil of secrecy. It is a case that threatens the future of the Tortallan royal family, and therefore the Tortallan government itself. 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 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 city walls, as well as her ability to judge exactly who she can trust with her life and her country’s future.

With Mastiff I think Tamora Pierce has wrapped up a series that really stands out in my mind as being just as good as Alanna's. I read the first Alanna story, god, what feels like a million years ago now, and just fell in love. I loved her, the story, the characters - all of it, and the series just got better with every addition. The connection that Beka Cooper has to those tales and her adventures in her own right make her another remarkable heroine.

In Mastiff it's Beka and Tunstall on their own, out to save the entire kingdom on the most important hunt of their lives. I've already had to reread parts of the book because the first time through I kept getting distracted by the hunt - when are they going to find him? What's going to happen? I was the little child bouncing in the back seat asking 'are we there yet?'. Pierce has crafted an arc where over these three books we've been able to watch Beka grow and mature - to come into her own as a Dog and a protector of the realm. And as an adult she has to face the fact that things don't always end up as you'd hope. Bad things happen to good people and even when you try your best it doesn't guarantee the outcome - it's a hard story to read in that aspect, as you watch Beka accept the reality of what even good people can do. 

If I had to come up with something that was a little less than stellar, I'd have to say that the romance in this one wasn't my favorite. Even if the couple didn't work out quite the way I was rooting for in the first book, I'd have to say that things were a bit too fast overall. I'm being purposefully vague here so please excuse me, but while I understand a pressure situation can influence the speed at which feelings are revealed, I still felt a little cheated. Romance might not be the focus of Mastiff, it's not a romance book after-all, but seeing more of the buildup to the final HEA would have been great. 

I highly, highly recommend this book - and pretty much everything written by Tamora Pierce.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up.

Series - 1) Terrier 2) Bloodhound 3) Terrier