Book Review: Mastiff

Beka Cooper Book Three: Mastiff, a Tortall Legend, by Tamora Pierce

I’m not actually sure what part of that is the title and what isn’t. I’m never quite sure what to do when books seem to have a title and a subtitle. In this case, there’s something like a pre-title too…

This book is the third of a young adult fantasy trilogy about the young woman, Rebekah Cooper, who joins what is essentially the police force in her city, and gets assigned to special criminal hunts when she is not doing her regular patrolling.  It is written in the form of a journal she keeps, to keep her memory straight for writing her formal reports, and through this we hear Beka’s voice. She started out her life among the poorest of the poor, so her speaking (and hence writing in her journal) is not exactly cultured. She uses the colloquialisms and slang of the city, and swears a lot — but they are only swear words in her world, not ours, so that’s all ok.

I truly enjoy Beka’s turn of phrase. She may be extremely shy in real life, but she is full of determination, and has strong opinions about right and wrong. The beauty of the first person journal style is that we get to see Beka’s determination directly through her own thoughts and experiences, rather than given by a narrator. Pierce’s writing is full of strong female leads, but Beka shines even among those.

I’m not often one to laugh or cry, or express emotions while I’m reading, but Mastiff made me burst out laughing several times. I didn’t quite cry, but my eyes definitely did water up — the happy kind, not the sad kind — at the end. It is for this that I rate the book highly, as a powerful and worthy finish to the trilogy.

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