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Mastiff: The Legend of Beka Cooper #3 Hardcover – October 25, 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 213 customer reviews
Book 3 of 3 in the Beka Cooper Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2011:
"Pierce has long been lauded for her kickass heroines, and in Beka she has created her most compelling, complicated character...[T]his novel provides both crackerjack storytelling and an endearingly complex protagonist."

Booklist, December 1, 2011:
"This concluding title in the Beka Cooper series is the best yet, a tasty blend of detective work, romance, magic, and treachery."

About the Author

TAMORA PIERCE has completed four series of books set in the fantasy realm of Tortall. Pierce's fast-paced, suspenseful writing and strong, believable heroines have won her much praise: Emperor Mage was a 1996 ALA Best Book for Young Adults.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 790L (What's this?)
  • Series: Beka Cooper (Book 3)
  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers; Third Printing edition (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375814701
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375814709
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (213 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #815,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jennifer on October 31, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
**Mild Spoilers**

Along with several other reviewers, I pre-ordered _Mastiff_, expecting a well-written and intelligently plotted detective story rooted in familiar Tortallan soil. Previous entries in the series had been both meticulous and genuine in their execution: _Bloodhound_ brought the threat of counterfeit and fiscal inflation vividly to life; _Terrier_ built characters and relationships that challenged Pierce's traditional conflation of order, authority, and good.

_Mastiff_ doesn't duplicate these achievements. To give Pierce credit, in _Mastiff_ she tries to explore the implications of slavery and the difficulty of uprooting entrenched privileges. But she doesn't carry it off: bad or inconsistent characterization turns an essentially gripping story into a didactic exercise.

Very early in the book, we see Beka confronted with a young mother who has lost her only child. She pleads with Beka to bring him back to her, but her pleas--her whole character--is one breathless desolate cliche. We know Pierce is a better writer than this: in _Emperor Mage_, Daine confronts the mage Varice and recognizes something of her own mother in the woman's protest that she never wanted to be powerful, only to make people happy. Varice and Daine's dialogue is fraught, illuminating, and earns them both our sympathy. But neither we nor Beka see anything to respect in Jessamine. She's pretty, desolate, and forgettable.

The more serious problems begin at the two-thirds turn of the story, as we start to collect evidence that someone in Beka's band has turned traitor. With only four in the party, there's scant detecting required to identify the turncoat. Pierce could have played this for tension, shown us Beka aware of the betrayal and gambling on a last minute about-face.
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Format: Hardcover
"Terrier" is one of my favorite Pierce books, quite an upset considering the lens of middle-school nostalgia through which I see the Alanna quartet. With "Bloodhound" I was less thrilled, but since I got to spend more time with the amazing, admirable Beka, I wrote it off as a sophomore slump.

With "Mastiff," I realized Pierce is no longer writing the kind of story I like to read.

Kirkus nailed it when they compared Pierce's approach to a police procedural, and it's this approach which either raises or damns Beka's story depending on the audience. If you enjoy Issue stories, wherein Bad Things are given an unflinching and immediate portrayal, and there are at least one or two Shocking Twists before the wrap, "Bloodhound" and "Mastiff" are for you. If you want a story that tackles internal issues as well the external -- such as identity and ideology, and the conflict between idealism and realism -- then you're better off reading "Terrier" and leaving it at that. I'm sure some people will vehemently insist "Mastiff" contains these issues as well. I disagree, or at least, I disagree that it tackles them with the same immediacy and deeply personal stakes introduced in "Terrier." That book was a young woman's struggle to find her place in a corrupt-yet-beloved community, where her attempts to find a solid moral ground to stand on were further complicated by complex friendships. The last two in the trilogy are a bit of Beka the Super-Dog: capable of toppling insidious political/economic/cultural corruption in a single book, along with Appropriate Sidekicks.

It's obvious my own preference colors my review. But I have to say my disappointment with "Mastiff" isn't limited to the constraints of its ambition.
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Format: Hardcover
**UPDATED 24 September 2014** When I first published this review and gave the book 1 star, I was comparing Mastiff to Tamora Pierce's other work. Now I realize that I have to rate this book as compared to all the other books out there. I may still dislike Mastiff but Tamora Pierce on her worst day is still light years better than Stephenie Meyer or E.L. James on their best day.**

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With my review, I won't mince words, I LOVE Tamora Pierce but I HATE this book. I bought it back in October on its release date; I had waited for so long because I loved Terrier and Bloodhound and I was psyched to read Mastiff. I am an avid reader and have read everything of Tamora Pierce's that I can get my hands on. Some of my books are about to split from having read them so many times. This book makes me angry, angry enough to write a review of it because I think people should read Terrier and Bloodhound and then imagine Beka and her friends' future for themselves.

From this point on, there are *MAJOR SPOILERS*.

Again, I am laying my opinions out there on everything so *MAJOR SPOILER ALERT! (Not just Mastiff but other Tamora Pierce novel spoilers)* and I'll put a tl:dr version below because I think this might be very long.

I was disappointed when I discovered that Beka's latest escapade would not take place in Corus like Terrier. I enjoyed the fact that Bloodhound was in Port Caynn because that gave the readers a chance to see how Beka works without Pounce and without her safety net. I was hoping that Mastiff would truly come full circle and have a large portion of the action in Corus so we could catch up with old friends like Ersken, Rosto, Kora, Aniki and so we could see how Goodwin is doing in her new job.
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