Pierce, Tamora. Mastiff: The Legend of Beka Cooper #3 (2011). 608 Pages. Random House. $18.99

Beka Cooper | Book Three

Please be aware of two things:

1) This is the third book in a series. It may contain spoilers for the first two Beka Cooper books, though I have done my best to avoid spoilers for this book.

2) This review of Mastiff is pre-release, based upon a galley. I did not receive it personally from the publisher*, but it is a galley nonetheless. The book is due out October 25, 2011, which gives you plenty of time to go buy and read the first two books (Terrier, and Bloodhound) so go buy them. Because this is an un-edited, pre-release galley, some details may change.

On that note, I’ve put the entire post behind a “more” tag, because there is no way to even give a synopsis without sharing details of the other books. If you’d like the short version? I feel that with every book she publishes, Tamora Pierce grows as an author, and Mastiff is no exception. It was brilliant, and managed to be all I had hoped for and more. I look forward to reading the published volume.

From the Author’s Website

Three years have passed since Beka Cooper almost died in the sewers of Port Caynn, and she is now a respected member of the Provost’s Guard. But her life takes for the unexpected when her fiancé is killed on a slave raid. Beka is faced with a mixture of emotions as, unbeknownst to many, she was about to call the engagement off.

It is as Beka is facing these feelings that Lord Gershom himself appears at her door. In the span of hours Beka, her partner Tunstall, her scent-dog Achoo, and a unusual but powerful mage are plunged into a case under an extreme veil of secrecy. It is a case that threatens the future of the Tortallan royal family, and therefore the Tortallan government itself. As Beka delves deeper into the motivations of the criminals she now hunts, she learns of deep-seated political dissatisfaction, betrayal, and corruption. These are people with power, money, and influence. They are able to hire the most skilled of mages, well versed in the darkest forms of magic. And they are nearly impossible to identify.

This case—a Hunt that will take her to places she’s never been—will challenge Beka’s tracking skills beyond city walls, as well as her ability to judge exactly who she can trust with her life and her country’s future.

First Lines**

Mistress Trout’s Lodgings
Nippercopper Close, Corus
Ten of the evening

We buried Holborn today.

The burying ground has no trees in it, no shade for us Lower City Dogs. Because most of us work in the dark, we want our bodies to lie in the sun. Stones decorated the graves, stones placed there for remembrance. Some graves are piled waist-high with them, signs that the Dogs who lay beneath were loved by family and Guards both.


I positively inhaled this book. It took me six hours of reading spread over a full 24-hours. The 18 hours while I was not reading were agony and my thoughts were completely absorbed by the book, and what was going to happen next. I had to be very stern with myself to not read straight through the night, but alas, I am trying to be a responsible adult and I made myself put the book down at 1am so I could be alert enough for work in the morning.

Beka Cooper is the sort of girl I always wanted to be. She knows what she wants for life, chases her goals with the determination of a Terrier, pursues… ah, I can’t think of a good Bloodhound pun, but really, she’s a great character, with a lot of inner strength, and I think she represents the best that a girl can be (or at least one aspect of it.)

To get to the plot? Amazing. There were twists and turns and I never quite knew what was going to happen next. I say this again and again, but while I’m not the best mystery-solver, I can typically figure out where a novel’s going within a few chapters, and I’m often just waiting for the characters to catch up. With this, every time I thought I had a grip on where it was going, it would sort of squirm and the plot would go somewhere else– this was never really a bad thing, or poorly done, it was just squirmy.

There were moments where I actually laughed, and where I actually cried. I both love and hate when books make me cry. On the one hand, it means I’m emotionally invested and I care, on the other hand, usually something awful has just happened*** and I can’t make myself stay detached enough to process it without tears.

I loved the new characters– good and bad– and was actually surprised by a few of the revelations later in the novel. However, they were largely positive surprises– less in that they were good things, and more in that they made sense– and I was fairly pleased with th climax and denouement.

In summation, it gets a resounding 5/5. I adored it, and felt like it was a fitting end to an excellent series.

If you take my advice and buy the book, please consider doing so through this link: Beka Cooper #3,  Mastiff by Tamora Pierce.


* My good friend Bethany of Thany’s Thought was lucky enough to go to San Diego Comic Con and impress the right company representative of her love of Tamora Pierce, resulting in her receipt of Mastiff. She was kind enough to share her galley with me, because of our mutual love of Tamora Pierce.

** This is an unedited galley, and this is subject to change. I will verify the following against the hardcover upon its release in October.

*** Like a few very significant deaths in Harry Potter, which left me in tears.


Filed under Book Review, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

4 responses to “Mastiff

  1. I have a question!! WHAT IS GOING ON WITH TAMORA PERICE ADDING A FIANCE!!! that was so confusing. I thought i was reading from some other characters point of view!!
    Help me understand!!


    • It confused me really bad at first, too.

      It’s supposed to be set later. Beka’s grown up a little, and had a bit of romance with Holborn. In fact, they got engaged. But really, he’s not all that important. Just keep going, it’ll resolve itself.


  2. Ela

    I really enjoyed Terrier (but can’t now remember if I’ve read Bloodhound), so really must get Mastiff. I do love Pierce’s books – she does that tough girl heroine – who nevertheless has feelings – so very well.


    • I keep meaning to reply to this, and getting sidetracked before I manage it. (Whoops!) I’ve been hooked on Pierce since I was about 10, and I’m always happy to read about her girls. Like you say, they’re tough, but they still have feelings. I love it.


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