Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mastiff: The Legend of Beka Cooper # 3, by Tamora Pierce- Review

November has officially been my month (so far) to catch up on some of my beloved fantasy.  With both Tamora Pierce and Christopher Paolini releasing part the-last in their current series (OK Tamora was last month, but as much as it killed me I had to sit on it while I read scary books.  Boy the things I do for you guys!), and The Scorpio Races popping through the mailbox how could I read anything else?  Besides, my original and true love in books has always been fantasy, so any excuse to cosy down into it is like putting on my favorite pair of fuzzy moccasins, drinking some tea and lounging with an epic kitty snuggle all at the same time.

The Beka Cooper books are the books I attribute to bringing me into the YA fold.  At the time I ran into Terrier (Book 1) at the NYC Comic Con I was all about historical non-fiction (well except for Harry Potter, I mean everyone read HP).  It's all I had read in the previous two years, and I had no intention of stopping, until I stumbled into the Random House booth and realised the beloved author of my childhood had not only written another Tortall book, but had in fact been writing many of them, over many years.  I took it home and ate it up like candy.  Then a couple of months later the hubby presented me with a bunch of YA and middle school books, that he'd read about and thought I'd like, and it became official- I was hooked. 

Mastiff starts up some unspecified time after Bloodhound.  With just the tiniest bit of catch up (Beka's been engaged, but now he's dead), the story launches in on the biggest dog hunt of her career.  The prince has been kidnapped and Achoo, Tunstell and Beka have been thrown together with a mage to hunt him down.  It's dangerous, political and will take her far from home, can Beka survive these traitorous waters and bring the prince home safe?

I was caught up in the mystery of the princes kidnapping and the hunt immediately, though a little disappointed by the time jump and that once again it took her away from Corus and the original set of characters there.  Of course this didn't last long as I was quickly smitten by Farmer (the mage) and the peripheral characters popping up, and Beka, Pounce and Achoo are obviously my main draw anyhow.

True to any Pierce book, Mastiff was completely immersive, fast paced but as much character driven as plot driven.  Beka has grown into herself considerably and is a very different dog then in Terrier, more confident and capable of some tough decisions she's never had to make before.  There are some revelations about Pounce in regards to Faithful in the Alanna books that I found profoundly satisfying (no more sobbing my heart out at the end of In the Hands of the Goddess any more! just sad faces and sniffling!), and a fantastic tie in of Beka to the Alanna stories that was not only surprising but gave me a good giggle.  To be honest, once it was made I felt like a fool for not seeing it before, but glad I didn't since it was such a great feeling to be surprised by it. 

Going in I didn't realize that this was the final Beka book, so I was a bit thrown off when the end started to draw near and the indications were many that this was THE END.  However it was all wrapped up so nicely with such a satisfying conclusion I wasn't the least bit disappointed.  As always I was left with the intense desire to go back and read EVERYTHING, she's ever written, starting from the beginning; which is possibly the most sincere compliment I can give any author.

Mastiff: The Legend of Beka Cooper, By Tamora Pierce
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers, October 25th 2011
Buy Mastiff: The Legend of Beka Cooper #3 on Amazon

Ps- Does something really bother you about the cover? Let me show you why!
Ah the shortcomings of photoshop!


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