In the sixth part of Mastiff, Tunstall and Beka are sent on a journey where they see familiar faces. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Mastiff.
Trigger Warning: For mention of slavery, murder of children.
So much is happening! Already!
Let’s start things off with my desire to have the power to magically dry my own clothes in a second. This comes after my need to have wild magic, of course. Let’s not kid ourselves. I NEED THAT FIRST. But holy shit, Master Farmer, you’ve got so many surprising magical schools! Again, they’re all so practical, too! I appreciated that he was so genuine about his need to get consent, too. THAT IS A VERY GREAT THING.
Anyway, this isn’t what this section opens with, but I wanted something less soul-crushing to start off with. Tunstall, in all his glorious insight and sensitivity, decides to ask Beka about Holborn while they’re risking their lives climbing up the rocky and wet and slippery hillside. It’s typical Tunstall because he often says things before actually thinking about them. Here, though, he asks Beka why her fiancé rushed into a room without backup and without checking to see if it was a trap. Her answer sheds more light on the jealousy that pushed Beka away. Holborn couldn’t stand that someone was better than him, and I imagine it was even worse that it was his future wife who was better than him. There’s another line later in this section when Beka is talking to Sir Tullus that definitively proves that she’d fallen out of love with Holborn. It reminded me that it’s only been a few days since Holborn died. That is how busy Beka has been in the interim.
SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED.
Before Beka and Tunstall make their way to Port Caynn, though, they meet with Gershom to discuss their next step. I don’t feel compelled to comment on much of this, since it’s just a re-hash of what we already know. But! There are a few new things revealed here. The big one is that Master Farmer realizes that the raiders disguised themselves as slavers in order to get past Blue Harbor and Port Caynn. It’s a believable theory, especially if the slaves turn out to be some of the missing kids from the palace. That would also confirm the theory that the mages sank their own disguises and killed everyone who helped them get to the Summer Palace. THAT’S A PLEASANT THOUGHT.
I also wanted to add that while I still think Beka and Tunstall are under an unreal amount of pressure to succeed, I found it super sweet that the queen gave the both of them coin:
“Her Majesty does not want you to find yourselves coin-pinched while you seek her baby. She has every faith in you both.”
I do agree with Tunstall that it inadvertently puts more pressure on them, but I thought it was a sweet, caring gesture. Given what we learn of Queen Jessamine later from Sir Tullus, I think it’s easy to postulate that she understand the logistical problems Beka and Tunstall might run into if they’re traveling Tortall to find Gareth.
TRAVELING. PORT CAYNN. SERGEANT AXMAN AND SIR TULLUS AND SERENITY, OH GOD, WOULD IT BE TOO AWFUL TO ASK OKHA AND NESTOR TO MAKE AN APPEARANCE? Actually, it probably would, given that Beka and Tunstall aren’t allowed to contact anyone else while in town. STILL. I’ll entertain a number of headcanons that’ll never become true. And this doesn’t mean I was disappointed by Beka’s return to Port Caynn! Everything was so beautiful and exciting. I mean, Sir Tullus did take the Deputy Provost’s job, Sergeant Axman was still there and still a giant sweetheart to Achoo, and Serenity is back, too.
But let’s start with the meeting Beka and Tunstall have with Sir Tullus. I loved that Beka had come to enjoy his presence and his sense of humor, though it’s ironic that this happened after he left Corus. Still, he’s properly horrified by the news of what happened at the Summer Palace and to the Chancellor, but he’s necessarily surprised:
“Anyone with eyes and ears on the Council of Lords has expected some trouble for the last two years, Cooper,” Sir Tullus said, once he’d chewed and swallowed his first mouthful. “Mages, particularly great ones, are a haughty crew, the nobles are feeling ill-treated, and His Majesty is no longer prepared to let things pass. He has grown up and the treasury is very low.”
It’s further support for the idea that this whole thing is a revenge plot being enacted by nobles and mages, all to stop a king from running his country responsibly. But holy shit, the best part of this is that it’s not King Roger growing up all on his own. Queen Jessamine is behind this.
“That mother of hers raised her to take an interest in running of the realm. Once Jessamine and Roger were married, she began to ask questions. Well, no man likes to look a fool to an adoring young woman. He asked his ministers to tell him what they’ve been up to. He started reading his reports to her. They talk about the kingdom’s affairs.”
I AM SO INTO THIS DYNAMIC, Y’ALL. You don’t even know. So it must have been the queen herself who sent those purses of coin to Tunstall and Cooper, right??? Regardless, I love the idea that the queen is quietly behind all these progressive initiatives is so fascinating to me. Where did Jessamine come from? I can’t remember if I know that. I suppose it’s possible that she came to learn about how the poorer people lived in Tortall, but I think she’d get these sort of ideas if she lived it. MORE OF QUEEN JESSAMINE, PLEASE.
Gods, y’all, I’m just so floored by this book so far. HOW IS IT REAL?
The original text contains use of the words “idiot,” “mad,” and “stupid.”
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