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Archive for Monday, March 5, 2012

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Book review: ‘Mastiff’ hard to get into at first

March 5, 2012

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You know that awkward moment when you don’t fully understand a book you’re supposed to be reviewing for a citywide newspaper? I wouldn’t recommend it.

Maybe if I had read the two other books that come before “Mastiff” by Tamora Pierce in the Tortall Legend Series, I would have understood it a lot better, and enjoyed it more? Just a thought.

“Mastiff” takes place in the year 249 in an unspecified country. This book starts off with Beka Cooper and her partner Matthias Tunstall, as well as a few others, leaving to go on a hunt to find Prince Gareth, who has been kidnapped from his parents. With them, they also bring a dog and a cat who can both talk, and they will be able to assist the humans.

Beka and Tunstall’s journey is extremely long and dangerous, but the only thing as hard as simply surviving is dealing with the royalty and nobility they encounter. Their posse slowly adds more people on the way, who mostly help but occasionally cause more trouble.

Maybe I’m just the kind of person who likes things to be very succinct and to the point, but I did feel like most of the story dragged on longer than it needed to. Consequently, “Mastiff” was not one of my favorite books. I would not put this in my Top 20 Countdown. My mind tended to wander while reading this (though granted, I read a large portion of this during class, which is usually not a very quiet place), so I had to either reread it, often a few times, or just hope that I’d understand what was to come.

As I was reading the last 100 or so pages, my interest was piqued significantly. I began to feel a bit attached to the characters, and I was not particularly happy when I realized somebody’s moral compasses weren’t exactly due north, shall we say, and our lovely protagonist was endangered. (But then again, the cheap plastic compass I got from a candy machine last Sunday wasn‘t exactly due north either.) This story is also a testament to the belief that people who will do anything for money are just. bad. people.

“Mastiff” would probably appeal to people between the ages of 13 and 18 who like (ancient) historical fiction.

— Naomi Grant is a freshman at Free State High School.

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