|Cover artist||Jan Gerardi|
|October 25, 2011|
Mastiff is the third novel in Tamora Pierce's Provost's Dog trilogy, about a young Provost guard-woman in a fantasy kingdom called Tortall. The novel, as with all the Beka Cooper books, is written in first person diary form. The actual diary is said to be written in a mixture of Dog code and Beka's personal code
Three years have passed since Beka Cooper almost died in the sewers of Port Caynn, and she is now a respected member of the Provost's Guard. But her life takes an unexpected turn when her fiancé is killed on a slave raid. Beka is faced with a mixture of emotions as, unbeknownst to many, she was about to call the engagement off.
It is as Beka is facing these feelings that Lord Gershom appears at her door. Within hours, Beka, her partner Tunstall, her scent hound Achoo, and an unusual but powerful mage are working on an extremely secretive case that threatens the future of the Tortallan royal family, and therefore the entire Tortallan government. As Beka delves deeper in the motivations of the criminals she now Hunts, she learns of deep-seated political betrayal and corruption. These are people with power, money, and influence, and they are able to hire the most skilled of mages, well versed in the darkest forms of magic, all of which makes them nearly impossible to identify.
This case—a Hunt that will take her to places she's never been before—will challenge Beka's tracking skills beyond the city walls, as well as her ability to judge exactly whom she can trust with her life and her country's future.
The book opens in the beginning of June 249 H.E. at the funeral of Holborn Staftstall, Beka Cooper's fiance and a five-year Dog also at the Jane Street kennel. All the Dogs realize that Holborn's impetuous nature got him killed in the line of duty. Beka feels guilty that she wasn't able to influence him to be more careful and that she was on the verge of ending their relationship. She is sad that he is gone, but not that he isn't in her life any more. She struggles whenever someone references that she looks sad and must be missing Holborn throughout the book. Rosto, the Rogue of Corus and a friends, takes care of her that evening.
The next morning, Beka's companion Pounce, a constellation in the form of a cat, wakes her before dawn. Lord Gershom, Beka's patron and Lord Provost, comes with the news that she and her scent hound Achoo are needed on a Hunt. Her partner Matthias Tunstall is at the Peregrine Dock, who will join the Hunt. All that is known is that the Hunt calls for utmost secrecy, a small team, and a scent-hound. A mage magics the Peregrine ship to bounce off the waves, allowing for very fast trips; the ride is so rough that all passengers and crew are tied to bunks/part of the ship, and all but a couple crew members are made to sleep. The ship stop at Blue Harbor to pick up Master Farmer Cape, a Provost's mage unknown to Beka and Tunstall.
The group heads to the Summer Palace, indicating the king is involved, as the royal family has been in residence there a week and a half. The palace is heavily damaged, with many people burned, sword hacked, stabbed, and even some found melted. During the attack, the king and queen were away for the evening and the four-year-old Prince Gareth was kidnapped. Both parents are devastated by the events and reveal that King Roger is at odds with the Chancellor of Mages (and many other mages and lords) over licensing and taxing mages. Master Farmer indicates that the protection spells of the palace, which the Chancellor came to renew last month, had instead been shredded. The personal mages of the king and queen, Ironwood and Orielle, were unaware of this damage and are further insulted by the presence of Farmer, as he is not a court mage.
Beka finds laundry with the prince's scent on it and she and Achoo track his trail. They arrive at the beach, where Master Farmer shows he has great talents by creating a light within stones with quatz crystals (for use as a torch) and found two slave ships recently sunk under the water. This is at odds with the impression he gives of being a bit of a fool. Master Farmer calls the other two mages and they raise the ships. Beka and Tunstall search the woods nearby, where Achoo finds the prince's scent again, only for it to end at a riverbank, near the remains of several melted people.
Lord Gershom and Master Farmer, accompanied by guards and Pounce, find them and are relieved to learn the prince didn't go down in the ships. Beka and Tunstall are given horses and they head back to the palace to consult with the king. Rain comes, which was magicked, and weakens the scent trail of the prince. The royals are informed of the progress before everyone heads to bed. Beka awakes to take Achoo out and finds Tunstall and Master Farmer cooking, as most servants are dead and none of the court know how.
Beka and Achoo head back to the beach, to investigate the ships that were raised. Tunatall finds Beka and Achoo at the ships, where they discover that one of the ships was a slave ship. They also discover powerful mages at work.
Tunstall and Beka are sent to Port Caynn. Farmer later joins them.
The lady knight Sabine of Macayhill (also Tunstall's lover) join the Hunt, though Tunstall is still in charge.
They receive a lead for their hunt and are taken via peregrine ship to Arenaver. As soon as the group docks Achoo finds the scent again and the hunt continues into the Marshlands, where trail ends at burned down bridge.
After making camp, they then go into village for help getting across the water. The locals are distrustful, but recommend to hire Ormer to take them across the water, which takes four days.
Achoo picks up the scent again near the burned bridge. The trail leads them to a trap which Farmer disarms. Achoo leads them into Queensgrace Castle. Where the cult of the Gentle Mother has a strong following.
Leave Queensgrace. Beka finds the four leaved token on Farmer's pack, which indicates someone in their group is helping them be tracked and is a traitor.
The king announces that both Gareth and Beka's wish was for the end of the slave trade, which he has them sign as witnesses a proclamation ending it in Tortall. With children no longer able to be sold into slavery, it should end within two generations, as current slaves pass away.
- Lord Gershom: Beka's patron and Lord Provost. A long time personal friend of King Roger II of Contes
- "Mastiff (Beka Cooper, #3) by Tamora Pierce". Goodreads. Retrieved 18 August 2012.