Mark Reads ‘Mastiff’: Part 1

In the first part of Mastiff, here it is. This is the most wrong I have been in the beginning of a book in the history of the universe. Record this day in the history books. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to start Mastiff.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of death/grief.

This is definitely one of of the most shocking openers to a book that I’ve ever read. I can already see why there’s some value in the time jump, but I imagine that I’m going to have to read more of this to appreciate why it is that Tamora Pierce starts Mastiff TWO YEARS AFTER THE LAST BOOK.

Oh, what am I even saying? That’s not even the most shocking thing here. How about Pierce revealing that in the interim, Beka got married to someone named Holborn, who never met and will never meet because THE FUCKING BOOK OPENS WITH HIS FUNERAL. Let me get this out of the way first: Since women are fridged in fiction in order to give manpain to male characters, I am 100% okay with Pierce reversing the gender dynamic here, though I am not okay with HOW ALL OF THIS MADE ME FEEL. Like, can we talk about what Pierce casually reveals here?

  • Beka fell in love with a Dog, got engaged, and lost him before they were married.
  • For some reason, Holborn felt compelled to impress Beka, and it’s his recklessness that got him killed by slave guards.
  • In a tragic strike of irony, the pigeons show up at Holborn’s funeral, but none bear his ghost. The one time Beka needs to speak to a ghost on a pigeon? SHE DOESN’T GET IT.
  • Holborn was adored by Beka’s siblings, and he actually helped repair Beka’s relationship with Dorine.
  • Then Beka visits a spinner in the boneyard, which replays an argument she had with Holborn a few weeks prior to his own funeral, where we find out that HOLBORN WAS KIND OF AWFUL.

But Beka has friends – very good ones – and she finds that she can rely on them in this time of grief and sadness. I’m thankful for that. I know what grief can do to a person. (That’ “half ghost” line was so perfect in describing the sensation.) Beka has Rosto to help her deal with some of the small details, like what to do with Holborn’s clothes, or the big ones, like eating. I had a friend lose their father recently, and I’d forgotten how you don’t always remember to eat meals when you’re in grief. You also don’t expect the guilt, and that can be a killer. You start wondering why it is that you’re alive but someone else is not. And I admit that I definitely wanted to trade places because I reasoned that dying was better than dealing with someone else leaving this world. But Rosto is here to remind Beka that there’s something more for her, and at the very least, feeling guilty gets her nowhere.

Oh, were you expecting a slow exploration of grief? Because I assumed that’s what we’d be dealing with for a while. Pierce opened Mastiff this way, so it made sense that we’d dwell there until I figured out why we were starting things off this way. But no, NOPE. In the first fifteen or so pages of Mastiff, Beka is ALREADY ASKED TO GO ON SOME SUPER SECRET HUNT. It’s so secretive that Gershom, who beckoned her, doesn’t even know why they’re going on it. Wait, now that I think about it, I don’t even know where they’re going. Beka gets very little time to pack before she’s on a horse to the Peregrine Dock, where she boards a TERRIFYING peregrine ship. WHICH IS FUELED BY MAGE WIND. !!!!!! There, she meets up with her partner for the last couple years, Tunstall, and I am forced to acknowledge how virtually all of my predictions are utter garbage.

So what’s this all about?

“I’ve no idea of anything, and I’ll not hazard a guess, Mattes,” he said. The news I had called for utter secrecy and the best and smallest team with a scent hound I could assemble.”

That’s not intimidating at all!!! NO NOT AT ALL! What the hell, y’all? HOW DO YOU OPEN YOUR NOVEL WITH ALL OF THIS? AND WHY? WHAT IS GOING ON? I mean, I’m excited that I’ll get more of Tunstall and Gershom immediately. I love how Pierce wastes no time ruining my life. But I’m so overwhelmed by all of this. I imagine that’s the point, so I’m eager to find out what the reason is for framing Mastiff like this.

Seriously, Pierce opened her book with a jump in over two years and a major character death of someone I NEVER MET. What the hell.

The original text contains use of the word “mad.”

Video 1

Video 2

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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