Mastiff

By Tamora Pierce

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Random House, 2011

Genres: Fantasy, mystery, paranormal

Series: Beka Cooper; 3

ISBN: 9780375814709

Audience: Young adult

Number of pages: 593

Setting: Kingdom of Tortall

Time period: 249 H.E. (medieval)

Plot summary: Beka Cooper and her partner, Mattias Tunstall, are summoned to a hunt by their Lord Gershom in the middle of the night.  Beka and her scent hound, Achoo, along with Tunstall, Lord Gershom, Pounce, and a mage named Farmer Cape, travel to the Summer Palace where they discover a royal kidnapping has occurred and the kidnappers had inside help.  It’s up to Beka and her colleagues to track down Prince Gareth, who has been sold into slavery, and return him safely to the king and queen.

Appeal factors:

Pacing: Like the previous two books in this series, this is a fast paced book.  Unlike the previous two books, this story has very little preamble before diving into the action.  By page 10, Beka & Achoo are preparing for their biggest hunt yet.

Characterization: The story is told in first person through Beka’s journal.  The first chapter includes familiar friends from previous stories.  The most important secondary characters are those on the hunt – Tunstall, Farmer, Achoo, Pounce, and Lady Sabine.

Language: Has a medieval feel  and includes great slang.

Frame: The title highlights the frame of the book.  According to the American Kennel Club, Mastiffs have a “combination of grandeur and good nature as well as courage and docility”. Beka and company may be in unfamiliar territory in this book, but it hardly matters because they are the best at what they do and they are good natured about their work.

Story line:  An action packed story filled with great characters, plenty of magic, and a relentless hunt.

Subject headings:

From Pima County Public Library:

Kidnapping — Fiction.

Police — Fiction.

Kings, queens, rulers, etc. — Fiction.

Fantasy.

Similar authors: Kristin Cashore, Robin McKinley, Patricia Wrede

Personal notes:  I loved this series, but I think I prefer the first two books to this one.  I don’t know if it was just knowing that this is the last book in this series which made it less appealing.  Or maybe it had to do with the type of crime in the story.  Or maybe I just missed Beka’s friends in Corus – they had such a tiny role in this book.  I did enjoy the very end of the story – which brings the reader to the beginning of the Alanna/ Song of the Lioness series.

Other: Diversity – slaves, female knight & officer/ provost guard/ dog, paranormal abilities, mages

Tamora Pierce’s website

An interview with Pierce about Mastiff

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