Isabel's Reviews > Mastiff

Mastiff by Tamora Pierce
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's review
Jul 09, 2010

liked it

All right, now that I've had a few days to digest this I can begin with the review.

The Basic Plot: Beka is woken up in the middle of the night by Lord Gershom and told to pack her bags and Achoo. Beka does this and, with Tunstall, boards a ship to go to the King and Queen of Tortall. She is given the task to find a boy (hint hint a very important one) who was taken presumably by slaves and bring him back. She sets out on the journey with Tunstall and a mage named Farmer and is later joined by Sabine. Of course Achoo and Pounce are there as well.

The Writing: As usual, the writing is fantastic. The sentences flow smoothly into each other, paragraphs never drag on, and everything is written in exquisite detail. There were no moments where Ms. Pierce contradicted herself in the details, and the pace of the book is stable throughout.

The Characters: By now we've met Beka, Tunstal, and Sabine, so I won't delve into them (I still love them). Unlike the other stories, the book takes place during a Hunt, so we don't have all the "main" side characters (such as Rosto, Kora, and Aniki) as usual. Also, Goodwin is mentioned sparingly.
Farmer- I. LOVE. FARMER. He actually is amazing. His character is unlike others that I read before. It's not that he's a tortured artist or an amazing hero, no siree. Farmer is funny, surprisingly intelligent, humble, and... normal. What? Let me explain. He is not some super-mage, though he does well for himself, and doesn't have any extraordinary abilities like changing weather and such. When he's tired, he says so, and doesn't act chivalrous as if it is his job. Farmer is one of few characters I can honestly say is realistic, and I love him for that.
Holborn He is such a minor character that I had to look up his name, except for one thing: he is Beka's dead fiance. What? Why didn't I mark this as a spoiler? There are a few reasons for that. First, we know this from page one and he has absolutely nothing to do with the plot, so it isn't really a spoiler. And secondly, he doesn't matter. At all. You'd think if the main character's fiance died it would be a huge topic in the book, but sadly no, he wasn't. I really disliked this. While we eventually get bits and pieces of what happened between them and how he died, we only know background information. I would have liked to see a more in depth portrayal of his character and why exactly he died. How did he and Beka meet? Basic questions like that remain unanswered, and it irks me.
Others- So I understand why Ms. Pierce cannot have all the side characters as usual, but I still disliked that it was just Beka, Tunstal, Sabine, and Farmer. Usually we have side plots of Tansy or Rosto, but they barely show up at all.

Plot: While it is interesting to see all the change in scenery, I've come to love Corus and the people there. Plus, while in the other two books there was one main mystery and on the side Beka was doing normal dog work, in this one it is only the Hunt, which made it a little less interesting in my view. Other than that the whole kidnapping plot is well thought out. Readers can't figure out exactly who is behind from the start, but as Beka and posse get information and start to realize what is going on the reader does too, without feeling impatient or having a moment of "... OH I get it now.... actually no not really". I've read every Tamora Pierce book there is, and all of them have awesome plots and writing.

The Betrayal: I've been avoiding this. Usually this part would come under the plot, but I have such strong feelings about it that I had to put it as its own section. I was contemplating doing this as a spoiler so I could fully rant, but if I had then anyone who would have read it would have been tempted NOT to read it. So here goes my incomplete rant:
You listen to me Ms. Pierce, that is the ABSOLUTE WRONG ENDING. No, no, no no no nononononono. This is not one of those I-hate-it-but-it-makes-sense moments. The betrayal is completely out of character, first of all. No way would the betrayer have done it, in no lifetime. I suppose Ms. Pierce knows her characters better, but there was no indication of this ever happening. I understand (view spoiler) and all, but that would never have happened! I guess that is what Ms. Pierce was aiming for, a sense of shock, but it was too much. I didn't feel sympathy or shock, no, I felt angry. I could not believe it happened, and am still angry that it did. This actually ruined the book for me.

This being said, the ending made it seem as if this would be the last book in the series... please no! I love the whole idea of The Provost's Guard and Beka is an amazing character! She does not have blind loyalty and thinks everything through, yet has moments of human frustration, weakness, and mistakes. I love it! Don't end the series here!

Overall rating: 3.375/5 (math works out this way for the average)
Writing: 4.5/5
Plot: 3.5/5 (no diversity from the Hunt)
Characters: 3.5/5 (Holborn and no "main" side characters)
Betrayal: 2/5

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