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Monday, March 26, 2012

Mastiff

Publisher: Random House
Pages: 592
Publication Date: October 25, 2011
Type: Hardback, bought

The Legend of Beka Cooper gives Tamora Pierce's fans exactly what they want—a smart and savvy heroine making a name for herself on the mean streets of Tortall's Lower City—while offering plenty of appeal for new readers as well. 

Beka and her friends will face their greatest and most important challenge ever when the young heir to the kingdom vanishes. They will be sent out of Corus on a trail that appears and disappears, following a twisting road throughout Tortall. It will be her greatest Hunt—if she can survive the very powerful people who do not want her to succeed in her goal. 



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Once again, I am too confused to rate a book.  There are so, so many things I think about this book, so many things that conflict with one another, and I simply don't know what the end result is.


I know that the first 150 pages or so were very slow; those 150 pages are the ones I read over a span of about two weeks.


But I also know that the rest of it was insanely fast, and I read the next 400+ pages in less than two days.

I know that Tamora Pierce's characters were as real and complex and fantastic as ever.

Yet she completely slaughtered one character that had always been one of those real, complex, fantastic people within her pages.  And by slaughtered, I am not referring to them dying.

I know she dealt with the loss of one whom you loathe but know you should mourn exceptionally well.  Beka's sadness, and guilt over her lack of sadness, were done beautifully.

I know I sobbed when I thought my favorite character was about to die, too distraught to read on and see that they did not, in fact, pass away.

I know the romance was a good deal faster than I prefer (once it came into being), but I felt as though they had a genuine relationship, it was slower than a good deal of YA romances today, and I was quite fond of the love interest, so it can't have been all that terrible.

I know that last plot twist was shit. Scummer.  Piddle.  And it would've been no matter whom the traitor happened to be.  Not a one of them had any motive, nor had any given a single hint that they might do such a thing.  No matter who the traitor had been, she'd have been slaughtering a character.  And she did.

I know our little constellation cat changes, from his time as Pounce to his time as Faithful.  It was fascinating, really.  It intrigued me to no end, seeing how very different yet similar the black cat with violet eyes was almost 200 years ago.  With Beka, one can certainly tell that he cares for her if they read, but he doesn't make a great display of it.  He pushes her to be as independent of him as possible, purposely refuses to aid in certain situations so she realizes she cannot always rely on him.  But despite that, he is quite obvious in his magic.  It is made clear what he is, and he has no qualms about showing Beka and her friends at least a fair amount of the things he can do.  With Alanna, he is different.  He is more openly affectionate, though he does not stop with his scolding or his sarcastic comments.  But he is also more withdrawn; Alanna and those who encounter him certainly recognize that he's something supernatural, but he doesn't make as great a show of it. I don't believe they ever find out for certain that he's a constellation.  I don't believe they ever see the majority of things he can do.  It's as if 100 years in the stars, and perhaps another companion or two, have changed him.  That, I loved that.

I know I'm glad that Beka really did something great, something that changed history.  We know from the beginning of the series that she must've done something grand, to be so highly esteemed by her ancestors nearly 200 years later.  Throughout the series, I have been waiting for that something.  She has accomplished great deeds, yes, but not ones so epic that they'd keep her memory alive for centuries.  This, this is something people would remember.

I know the epilogue  seemed a bit contrived at times, and a bit unsatisfying, as if the memory we'd relived throughout this entire series was being dishonored.  But also incredible, to see this story lead neatly into Pierce's very first in the world of Tortall.

I know that this is most likely the last book of the Tortallan saga, and I know that makes me impossibly sad.  Five series, seventeen books, a whole world, and a million stories.  Wars and rebellions and magical creatures.  Characters I've loved, and characters I've hated.  I may well be wrong, but I doubt it.  She tied this ending to Alanna's beginning, the dawn of her Tortallan tales.  It's as if her world has come full circle.  And I doubt she'll return to it again.

I can't give this one a rating.  There are far too many of my feelings wrapped about this book to make a clear decision.  I can't express to you what I thought in the form of a few stars.  But I can tell you to read it.  Read this book, this series, all of her series in this world.  I promise that you won't regret it.


2 comments:

Sam

Wow, you certainly do have a lot of mixed feelings for this one. I think I first heard about Tamora Pierce on your blog, and this book does sound interesting to me, but not anything exceptional. Your review says as much, too. I can understand why you haven't given this a rating. I honestly sometimes think stars are a bit pointless as they never really get much across (even though I use them myself all the time) :D

Brilliant review, Lexie. I love the way you have managed to get everything across so clearly. :)

Lydia

I don't think she was slautering a character at all. It was heartbreaking and unexpected, yes, but you have to remember that everyone has their price.

They were offered the one thing that would have made their life what they really wanted, and they accepted it. I'm not saying I admire their choices, but it's understandable.

Everyone has a price.

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