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Douglas Corleone
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Mastiff (Beka Cooper Series #3)

Mastiff - Tamora Pierce What a wonderful book! It was filled with adventure, love, betrayals and heartbreak. Beka Cooper has just finished burying her betrothed - a man she had come to hate and was going to dump - when she is contacted by Lord Gershom for a Hunt. Four-year-old Prince Gareth, only son of King Roger II, has been kidnapped. His kidnapping is part of a massive conspiracy whose goal is to bring down the King and install one who is more sympathetic to the needs of the mages and nobles.Beka, Tunstall, Lady Sabine and a new unknown Mage - Farmer Cape - along with Beka's pets Achoo and Pounce are set on the track of the missing heir. There is no better scent hound in Tortall than Achoo. Tunstall and Beka are both experienced Dogs who have had many successful Hunts before. He is her senior partner, trainer, and mentor. Lady Sabine is Tunstall's lover and a Lady Knight who is well connected to the noble houses that the team will need to investigate. Achoo quickly finds the Prince's scent and the search begins. They come under magical attack almost immediately and also have to face a wide variety of physical trials along their journey.Along the way Beka and Farmer also get to know each other. At first, she thinks he is rather silly. He has developed this persona that encourages everyone to underestimate him. But as she gets to know him better, her feeling gradually turn to love. This was no love at first glace. They took time and got the measure of each other. Their love grew naturally through the course of their adventures. They have the same viewpoint of life and their purpose. Both are very concerned with getting justice for those who are not powerful and who have no other way to find justice.The world Pierce creates is a wonderful, rich one. It is a land of great wealth and great poverty. Many of the wealthy add to their wealth by keeping and selling slaves. Prince Gareth is himself made a slave and learns what life is like from that end of the spectrum. And there is magic. Great mages can do impressive things. And, it seems, along with their power comes a powerful lot of arrogance and a major sense of entitlement. Farmer is an unusual mage. He seems to be missing the arrogance. He has an unusual talent too. He is able to gather magic from the world and from other mages and turn it to his own use. And the gods make their presence felt. Beka is a servant of the Black God who is the god of the afterlife. She is able to speak with the souls of the dead who inhabit pigeons on their way to the afterlife. Beka can also gain information from the dust devils that inhabit many places. She uses the information gained from the pigeons and the dust devils to help her work as a Dog and to help in the search for the kidnapped prince. This story was filled with wonderful adventure and was a very satisfying read. This is the third book in the Beka Cooper series following Terrier and Bloodhound. I recommend that all lovers of fantasy take a look at this series and then go on to read all the other stories Pierce has set in the magical land of Tortall. I know that I want to go grab my copies and visit Tortall again.