Mastiff by Tamora Pierce

March 2012 Prof. Cassandra Lobiesk

Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness oh my goodness. Oh. My. Goodness. Gracious. Mastiff was just such a great end to the trilogy, and perhaps the best I've read from the fabulous Tamora Pierce herself (and this is saying a lot, because I will never ever ever think something could surpass my absolute love for the Song of the Lioness Quartet). But yes, she has definitely outdone herself this time.

But before I can continue my fangirling review, a little bit about this third installment.

Mastiff follows Beka Cooper on her biggest case yet: the abduction of the Tortallan prince, the only child of the realm's king and queen. This adventure takes her across the Tortallan land in search of the child, a welcome reprieve from her personal problems (which includes a dead fiancé). Along for the Hunt are Beka's Dog partner Tunstall, the lady knight Sabine, her animal partners-in-crime Achoo and Pounce, and the ever-amusing, yet mysteriously powerful Farmer Cape. For those who haven't yet read the first two books in the trilogy, I suggest going back to those books first, because otherwise my blubbering below might not make any sense. (On this note, the Alte actually has a review for Terrier if you're looking for more info on this trilogy).

Now, I'm a huge Tamora Pierce fan, so I've practically read a majority of her books prior to finally picking up the Beka Cooper trilogy. What I will say is that as a writer, she has definitely found a much better grip in her world, and from Alanna's story to Beka's, this shows. There is more involvement in Mastiff that one will never really find in the Song of the Lioness Quartet, even though SotL is probably still my favorite starter series. And, unlike the Trickster duology where I found the characters to be pale shadows of great predecessors like Alanna and George, Beka Cooper and her friends clearly showed a better voice.***

The characters in Mastiff were all lovely. No, really. Farmer was just a bundle of fierce awesomeness. Sabine and Tunstall I loved, Achoo was a dear, Pounce was his usual self, and Beka Cooper minced no words. I loved her cursing, I really did. The Hunt could have been great with just ordinary characters, but Tamora Pierce gave us extraordinary ones.

The Hunt for the prince was the most splendid Hunt imaginable. I was certainly rendered breathless at the action that took place, I laughed at the humorous parts, and I flailed at the opportune moments. I widened my eyes with disbelief from the plot turns and twists, giggled at the romantic interludes, blanched at the detailed descriptions of the murders and the bodies, cheered on at the battles. I have to admit, I kind of teared a few times, too (mostly at the end, but I was expecting the big unravel).

And most importantly: I loved that she'd brought the magic back. I've already raved about Farmer so much that I almost think I'm cheating on Numair for it (Numair being from Pierce's Immortals series, which you can also find a review of in the Alte). But I absolutely loved, loved, loved that she featured mages prominently in this story. I knew it was lacking a bit in the first two novels, but Mastiff more than made up for it in the end.

So yes. That is what I call storytelling.

*** Also, for a review on the Trickster series, the Alte is more than happy to provide that as well! We're such Tamora Pierce fans!