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Goats, gripes, and grasping for greatness
Books: Mastiff (Beka Cooper book 3) 
31st-Oct-2011 09:27 pm
Today to Read
Mastiff is the last book in the Beka Cooper "A Tortall Legend" series. Beka is now a full grown-up, with years on the police force and some more jaded attitudes towards her fellow men than even before. She has also learned that love isn't enough to live on when there isn't any "like" included in the relationship. So the story starts with her burying an unmourned fiancee, and looking to move past the guilt. She is summoned by Lord Grishom to go on a frantic, cross-country hunt for a kidnapped prince. The chase involves various ocean voyages, towns, castles, forests, marshes... If she could have, I'm sure that Pierce would have thrown in a glacier just to be sure she got everything.

At 580 pages, this book could break a window if I tried. Fortunately, Pierce provides enough variety in her mystery/action to keep the pages turning. She also does not provide us with any easy answers this time. Like in most of her books, we meet a charming and talented stranger - the mage Farmer Cape - who could easily turn out to be the bad guy. But like the heroine Beka, Pierce's third book in this YA series has grown up a great deal. Instead of sunshine and trumpets, Pierce makes the readers work for their own happy ending in a swirl of layered triumph, guilt, disbelief, and grief. Beka's dead relationship is only the start of many places where Pierce could have offered platitudes. Instead, she lays out the insecurities and pains of the many characters we want to love. The only trope that Pierce can't seem to evade is a nigh stereotypical villain's monologue during a dramatic fight scene. Admittedly, I started sniffling when Achoo (the dog) took a knife to the side in a bandit attack, and I'm also sure that I was supposed to.

The book wraps up the series very neatly, and slots back into the Tortall universe without a blink. In the epilogue, we bounce forward in time to George becoming the King of the Rogues, and the lecture he gets from his Ma about shaming the family. There is a small explanation about a cat that I enjoyed, though would not have missed if it had been skipped. The epilogue served to make me want to start all over again with the Song of the Lioness quartet...


-- New-to-me books read in 2011 (as opposed to re-reads) --

January
Little Dee vol 2
Little Dee vol 3
Unusual Suspects
Harvest Moon
The Black Stallion (yes, I know, I should have read it with Black Beauty)
Ravens in the Library: Magic in the Bard's Name, with a pre-finished commentary here
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
Fang Bangers: An Erotic Anthology of Fangs, Claws, Sex and Love
Must Love Hellhounds
Truthseeker

February
Dark and Stormy Knights
Tortall and Other Lands
River Marked (2/28 - it arrived a day early)

March
Questionable Content, vol 1
How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf
Lifeblood
Magic Bites
Skinwalker, A Jane Yellowrock Novel
Running with the Pack
Magic Burns
Blood Cross

April
"Skyblaze" Adventures in the Liaden Universe #17
Kings of the North
Goblin Tales
Do Not Sniff the Bees, Two Lumps book 6
Magic Strikes
Magic Bleeds
Mercy Blade
The Initiate Brother

May
Angelology
City of Pearl
An Artificial Night
Late Eclipses

June
After Hours: Tales from Ur-Bar
Magic Slays
Ghost Ship (e-ARC)
Warbreaker

July
Quarter Share
Half Share
Full Share
"Intelligent Design" (short story in the Liaden Universe, published online at Baen)
Heroes in Training
Serenity: Better Days
Serenity: Those Left Behind
Serenity: The Shepherd's Tale
Tiger's Curse
Calamities of Nature, vol 1
Troubled Waters
Wolfsbane and Mistletoe
In Fury Born

August
Naked City
Unnatural Issue
Home Improvement: Undead Edition
Summers at Castle Auburn
"Kin Ties" (short story in the Liaden Universe, found here)
Flying Blind
Archangel
Hunger Games
The Shape-Changer's Wife
A Matter of Magic

September
One Salt Sea
"Guaranteed Delivery" (short story of the Liaden Universe, found here)
Wayfinder
Double Share as an audiobook from PodioBooks.Com
Cast in Ruin

October
Captain's Share (as an audio book)
Land of Painted Caves
Owner's Share (as an audio book)
Beauty and the Werewolf
A Beautiful Friendship
Mastiff

-- Books abandoned rather than completed in 2011 --

February
Sing the Four Quarters, by Tanya Huff

August
Fuzzy Nation, by John Scalzi

October
Gamestorming (gave it to a co-worker)

-- Books Still in Progress --
These are books that I haven't totally given up on, I've just... put them aside... for now.
The Brand Within
If You Don't Have Big Breasts, Put Ribbons on Your Pigtails
Swords and Dark Magic
Battlestations
Wise Man's Fear
Down These Strange Streets
Comments 
1st-Nov-2011 02:08 pm (UTC)
*glee* I can't wait to read this!
1st-Nov-2011 02:35 pm (UTC)
Remind me to loan it to you when we next meet up.
1st-Nov-2011 03:10 pm (UTC)
That would be really nice! Thank you!
1st-Nov-2011 08:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the review. Sounds like Bean will really enjoy it. I think we will have to add it to the Christmas list if it isn't there already.
1st-Nov-2011 08:36 pm (UTC)
You're welcome! I definitely recommend it as a series-closer, but not as a rainy-day-pick-me-up book.
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