Pierce's sturdy policewoman Beka Cooper returns for a triumphant trilogy conclusion. The book opens at the interment of narrator Beka's fiancé, a fellow Dog; some three years have passed since the events of Bloodhound (2009). Far from being grief stricken, Beka feels a guilty relief at the release. She finds the prospect of a high-stakes Hunt with partner Tunstall positively invigorating, although the political stability of Tortall hinges on its success: The young heir to the throne has been kidnapped. Beka and Tunstall--and her animal companions, the supernatural cat Pounce and scent hound Achoo--are joined by Tunstall's lover, the lady knight Sabine, and a Dog mage, Farmer Cape. Farmer plays the fool, but Beka and company soon realize his powers and intellect far exceed those of the typical Kennel mage--a good thing, too, because Tortall's magical community appears to be allied against the king. Pierce has long been lauded for her kickass heroines, and in Beka she has created her most compelling, complicated character. The plainspoken Beka's moral compass never wavers, but there's believably human confusion at her core. Pierce's gutsiest move is starting with Beka's failed romance--thereby providing a welcome reality check for readers who have been peddled the eternal-first-love bill of goods from every direction. An involving police procedural wrapped in fantasy clothing, this novel provides both crackerjack storytelling and an endearingly complex protagonist. (maps, cast of characters, glossaries) (Fantasy/mystery. 12 & up)
From the Publisher
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."
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—This is the final chapter of the series. Although readers unfamiliar with the previous two books are at a disadvantage, a thorough cast of characters and glossary help to get them up to speed. Moreover, Pierce has created a world so fully realized that the language becomes second nature, much like English subtitles for foreign films. Beka Cooper is a fourth-year Dog, the Tortall word for cop, operating in a world in which mages are commonplace and palaces are protected by layers of powerful spells. In Mastiff, a cabal of mages, nobles, and slave traders kidnaps four-year-old Prince Gareth. Beka and her colleagues pursue him using magic; a scent-tracking dog named Achoo; and good, old-fashioned police work. Notwithstanding the many instances of sorcery and butchery necessary in a novel of this type, Mastiff is character-driven rather than action-packed. The language is rich and earthy, adding a feast of curse words to readers' lexicons. The theme of gender roles is central to this book and the others in the trilogy. Beka's skills as a cop and her midden-mouth are nicely contrasted with the noble women who worship the "Great Mother," who demands submissive acceptance of what, in other worlds, are considered "a woman's place." Ambition and duplicity—including a devastating betrayal of trust by one of the main characters-are constant themes. Yet it is also a love story, a buddy book, a picaresque novel, and, of course, a fantasy. A must-have for mature teen collections.—Nina Sachs, Walker Memorial Library, Westbrook, ME