Title: Mastiff (Click to add to your Goodreads.)
Author: Tamora Pierce
Warnings: PG-13 for violence, sexual content, and a few scenes that contain disturbing imagery or concepts. Recommended for 16+, or for “mature” younger teens.
Star Rating on Goodreads: 4.5 stars.
Theme Song (according to me, anyway): “Lover to Lover” ~ Florence + The Machine
Final Grade: A+.
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS, STRONG OPINIONS, AND THE FRANK DISCUSSION OF POSSIBLE TRIGGER SUBJECTS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
It took me awhile to get through Mastiff. This was partially because it is the last book in the Beka Cooper series, and I was really not ready for it to be over. It was also partially because the book itself is rather dense. At 592 pages, it’s a pretty hefty hardcover—but I enjoyed every minute of it.
Three years have passed since Bloodhound, and Beka is now on the verge of receiving her five year badge and engaged to be married to another Dog. When her fiancée is killed in a slave raid, Beka is more than a little conflicted—unbeknownst to her friends, her fiancée was verbally (and, it is hinted) physically abusive towards her, and she had been planning to call the engagement off. Beka’s not the sort to fall into pathos over this, however, and when the king’s son is kidnapped by slavers who may or may not be working under the orders of a group of rebellious nobles, Beka welcomes the thrill of the chase with open arms. Along with Lady Sabine, her old mentor Tunstall, and the frustratingly tricky Master Farmer, Beka finds herself embroiled in a mass of betrayal, brutality, and something that she just might call love.
Overall, I felt this was a very solid end to the Beka Cooper trilogy. I feel that the situation with Beka’s dead fiancée was actually handled quite well; it’s definitely a realistic depiction of how, exactly, strong women end up in relationships that are not good for them. Pierce’s treatment of the difficult topics of slavery and the Shaker-esque noble cults was adept as always. It was a little sad that we didn’t get to see much of Rosto, Kora, and Aniki, but I enjoyed the group dynamic between Beka/Farmer and Sabine/Tunstall just as much. In the end, it was all neatly linked back to George Cooper and led right into the beginning of the Alanna series. Nice!
I did have a few quibbles about the book, mostly focused around the plot twist at the end, but I’m going to go into those at length in my pros and cons section to avoid spoiling anybody.
BEYOND THIS POINT, THERE ARE MAJOR SPOILERS. PLEASE DO NOT READ IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO BE SPOILED.
- Master Farmer. He’s raised my expectations of men sky-high now. He’s tied with Numair as my favorite mage ever. Basically? I love him. ❤
- The group dynamic between Tunstall, Sabine, Farmer, and Beka. They made such a good team ❤
- The noble cults were intriguing to read about, even though I would definitely agree with Beka about the followers of the Gentle Mother.
- Sabine as a wildmage. I like that the wildmages are even acknowledged at this time, though we know they are not properly studied until Daine comes along later.
- Achoo and Pounce ❤ For a little while there, I thought that Achoo was going to die, and when it looked like that was imminent, I started crying and just couldn’t stop until she was healed a few pages later.
- Tunstall 😦 While I feel the plot twist was executed fairly well, I really did not see this coming. To be honest, I would suspect Sabine before Tunstall, and to find that he really was the traitor… it broke my heart, really, it did. And with little to no lead up for it, it really was a nasty shock. I feel that some hints along the way would have been appropriate, but then again, it was a plot twist, so I don’t really know what to say.