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Novel has both bark and bite

November 11, 2011

Tamora Pierce’s Mastiff is book three of The Legend of Beka Cooper series. Beka Cooper, the main character of the novels, connects to Tamora Pierce’s other popular novels in many ways. First, she is the great-great-great-grandmother of George Cooper, a main character in the Song of the Lioness quartet and Pierce’s first series.

Also, the purple eyed cat, known as  “Faithful” in that same series appears in the Beka Cooper novels as “Pounce”.

Lastly, all of Tamora Pierce’s novels take place in or around Tortall, a fictional kingdom where magic is present in the form of people possessing The Gift, and knights and nobles fight and squabble at the expense of the poor.

In this case, The Legend of Beka Cooper series takes place hundreds of years before the modern Tortall that has been the focus of all of Pierce’s novels so far.

At first, I was a little put off by the beginning of the novel, because it takes place three years after the last novel, “Bloodhound”, which followed Beka’s first years as a Dog, the police of Tortall at this time. The ending had a few loose ends, one of which being a potential romantic relationship with Rosto, the “King of Thieves” so to speak.

So imagine everyone’s surprise when the book opens three years later at the burial of Beka’s betrothed, Holborn. No mention of Holborn was made in previous books, so I was a little confused. I ended up liking it though, because, to me, it made the job more realistic, since generally not everyone has an adventure every day. Beka was able to do all the “boring” job work then and make a good background that Pierce could pull from to make the story more interesting.

However, my one gripe with the book was that at times it moved too slowly. Actually, it was a pretty slow read most of the time. I understand, since it’s a long drawn out process of investigative work, that there will be slow moments. But I do not need to read about you traveling on a road five times in as many chapters. If it was tedious for them, it’s tedious for me.

I have to give the book credit though: it definitely has both bark and bite. It lures you in with loud promises of adventure to come and has exciting scenes that grip you with their detail.

Ever since one of Pierce’s novel featured metal creature made from the souls of murdered children, she’s really mastered creeping me out and making me hate the villain with their hauntingly sinister crimes. “Mastiff” continues to show Pierce’s improvement, with the autopsy of a drowned slave ship where the crew members were prevented from escaping because the wood of the ship actually grows over their hands and feet trapping them. Creepy.

Overall, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this latest novel — Pierce is incredibly creative with her characters’ abilities and limits, and once the book begins to pick up speed, you can’t put it down. Everyone should pick a series from Tamora Pierce to read, and this is a great one to start with.

Megan Zaubi
Features Editor

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