"Mastiff" by Tamora Pierce is the final tale in her `Legend of Beka Cooper' trilogy which started with "Terrier" and was continued by "Bloodhound". Sadly, the tale opens with the aftermath of the death of Beka's fiance and she is relieved to have the opportunity to escape the mournful atmosphere since few people realized that she had wanted to break the engagement. A surprise attack upon the Summer Palace results in the horrific deaths of masses of courtiers, guards and servants and leads to concern about traitors amongst those remaining, including the mages. Beka, her partner Tunstall, his love the Lady Knight Sabine and of course Achoo the phenomenal scent-hound are all sent on a mission of gravest importance: retrieve the young kidnapped prince, Gareth. Aided by the `constellation' known as Pounce, the purple-eyed cat, and an unassuming mage named Farmer Cape, the group sets out knowing that the only people they can depend on during their pursuit are each other and Lord Greshom. Hampered by the need for secrecy and the speed with which the kidnappers are traveling with the royal heir, Beka and her companions rush to rescue a terrified little boy who is the pivotal figure in a treasonous plot that could be more widespread than anyone ever dreamed.
An action-filled, edge-of-your-seat ride through Tortall, featuring those trademark mesmerizing animals that distinguish this world from any other. Pounce is his usual enigmatic yet irritatingly feline personality and there are several very poignant scenes that remind Tamora Pierce fans of her mastery at creating a richly populated world with realistic characters that become familiar friends. There are a couple of inconsistencies including the discomfort that Beka tolerates in her past relationship and a few very startling shockers but none detract from this enthralling read that will monopolize your time the minute you open the cover. Keep plenty of tissues handy, they will be needed! One can only hope that it will not be quite as long an interval before the next exciting adventure in Tortall is delivered from this master storyteller.
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.