Fans of Tamora Pierce’s series featuring Provost Guard Bekka Cooper will meet the third book in the series, Mastiff (Random House) with mixed feelings. On the one hand, it seems a long time since the last installment, Bloodhound, was released in the first half of 2009. On the other, this is the end of what has been a terrific, ground-breaking series for Pierce, a prolific writer who, nonetheless, has taken her time about getting caught in the limelight. At least when we were waiting, we knew another book featuring Bekka would be coming down the pipe eventually. Now we know we have to say goodbye to the magical realm of Tortall, at least for a while, along with fearless Bekka Cooper, whose adventures have taken us on such pleasurable journeys.
While the Bekka Cooper series is considered children’s literature, like the best of that genre, these books entrance anyone lucky enough to fall under their spell. Pierce’s magic formula is intense: girl power done up fantasy style, with strong female protagonists creating role models and blazing new trails. It’s wonderful stuff.
In Mastiff, Bekka is back in Tortall, fighting against slavery, corruption and fraud. In addition to these larger, mostly political problems, her personal life is in shambles. She’s dealing with the fallout of losing her fiance, who died just as she was about to cut him loose in the last book. And it is in this spirit that she moves into her most challenging adventure yet: she will travel to the Summer Palace to meet with a powerful mage in order to work out a secret for the royal family.
Mastiff’s powerful ending is bittersweet. Traveling through these three books with Bekka has been a wonderful journey. I can’t help but be sorry that it’s come to an end. ◊
Sienna Powers is a transplanted Calgarian who lives and works in Vancouver, B.C. She is a writer and conceptual artist.