Mark Reads ‘Mastiff’: Part 17

In the seventeenth part of Mastiff, the team must devise away to escape the clutches of Queensgrace. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Mastiff. 


I feel slightly validated by this section, since the characters all demonstrate that they’re initially more interested in finding Prince Gareth, rather than determine who is behind this conspiracy to overthrow the king and queen. That means THEY NEED TO GET OUT OF THIS CASTLE. I definitely misjudged how much power that the count and countess had here, since I totally made a point to state that it wasn’t like these people could just keep the Dogs in Queensgrace. But if it wasn’t for Prince Baird and Lady Sabine, it might have actually happened.


First things first: This section details a long conversation between all three Dog and Sabine as they finally sit down and share what they’ve figured out during their stay at Queensgrace. Can we talk about how Farmer consistently reveals that he’s full of all kinds of fascinating and bewildering magic? He found a way to make them all completely blend in with their surroundings so that no one can see or hear them. What?!?!?! That is amazing! Anyway, HERE IS WHAT WE LEARN:

  • As far as Farmer knows, Master Elyot has not figured out that Master Farmer is a powerful mage. This is due to the fact that Farmer PRETENDED TO BE A DRUNK FOOL ALL NIGHT. Oh my god, a spell that makes alcohol disappear when it gets to your lips? HOW IS THIS MAN REAL.
  • Sabine used her time with the noblewomen to get Lady Aeldra to speak candidly about Queensgrace’s role in the slave trade, which then leads to Sabine discovering that a handful of noble families are all trading the best “stock” (PEOPLE, IT’S PEOPLE) with on another.
  • Which Tunstall and Beka hypothesize is how these nobles are communicating with one another in secret. Oh god, it fits too well. They can use the slave trains to hide weapons and fighters! OH GOD.
  • Something is wrong with Prince Baird. Now, I admit that I cannot figure this out, as Baird’s behavior the night before and later in this section makes no sense to me. I’m clearly missing something huge! But Sabine notes that Baird is gloomy and preoccupied, which isn’t his usual demeanor. Which is right around when Pounce chimes in to reveal that the count and the Aspen Vale men aren’t even letting the prince’s men in to see him.
  • Tunstall also confirms that the count did indeed try to bribe him.
  • Oh, and he accepted.
  • for ~science~
  • I mean, it’s not a terrible idea! It’s… slightly impractical and really risky, but if Tunstall can trick them into thinking he’s a traitor, then the count and his men will leave them alone. THEY’LL NEVER SUSPECT A THING.

All of this is necessary information, but as I said before, it’s made secondary to the need for these four hunters to track down their quarry. With Prince Gareth a full day ahead of them, it’s essential that they get the fuck out of Queensgrace and on the road as soon as humanly possible. It felt like Tunstall, Sabine, and Farmer were fairly certain that they’d be able to do so, but I must admit that I got a little nervous. Look, I was trying to prepare myself. THIS IS TAMORA PIERCE WE ARE READING, OKAY. No author has ever messed with me via fiction quite like her. So, as I read about Beka eating her breakfast and awaiting the inevitable moment of confrontation, I worried that there was something I’d not noticed or that Master Elyot would reveal that he knew everything.

I don’t trust Master Elyot, first of all. I don’t. He scares me because I know so little about him. And what I do know? He’s got that bloodstone and he’s got blood on his hands. The element of ambiguity around him makes him so much more terrifying. So when he confront Farmer about his ability to communicate, I thought that this was all going to fall apart IMMEDIATELY. But you know, I should have had more faith in these characters. The brilliance of what happens here is entirely based on the strengths each of these characters possesses.

For example! Farmer uses misconceptions about his ability against the very people who judge him. It allows him to escape Elyot’s suspicions here, and so Farmer’s misbehaving comes off as if he’s a fool, making Elyot look away from him. GOD, IT’S SO GENIUS. It sets up Tunstall so that he comes off as the orderly, respectful leader. Not that he isn’t a leader, I should say, because he is. And a damn good one! But it’s a clever set-up, and one that works until the count does something… well, unexpected.

The count leaned back in his chair, linking his fingers before his chin. “As it happens, I question the authenticity of those seals.”

The fact that Lady Sabine is the only one to gasp speaks VOLUMES about how fucked up this is. As a Knight in service to the Crown, she knows how deadly serious it is to claim that the Crown’s seals are fake. And she knows how horrible it is to hear that from the count, someone she grew up with and who should KNOW BETTER. I was also certain that this was it: this is how they’d stop them from finding Prince Gareth. Hell, wasn’t this a damning bit of circumstantial evidence that these people knew they were searching for Prince Gareth? They had to have suspected it, right?

Even if they didn’t, that doesn’t really affect what happens next: Lady Sabine’s plan comes to fruition. It is so beautiful, y’all. SO BEAUTIFUL. Perfectly on note, Lady Sabine makes a comment about how hard it’ll be for them to find their quarry, and all the women she was talking to earlier that morning rise up to tell the count what a horrible thing it is to stop them from rescuing “that poor stolen lad!” In an ironic twist, the very religion that was used to keep these women quiet is what inspires them to publicly defy their court. Their belief in the Gentle Mother is more important than seals.

And yes, I was also very confused by Prince Baird letting them all go. I tried to figure out my own theory about his involvement in the kidnapping or the conspiracy to overthrow the Crown, but you know what? I can’t do it with what little I know at this point. I think there might be some truth to my theory that he was initially involved but now having second thoughts, but it doesn’t fit everything. So I don’t know what’s going on here! UGH.

With this stunning display of cleverness and planning, our hunters are set free from Queensgrace and attempt to make up for all the time they’ve lost. It felt great when the narrative slipped back into the hunt. Pierce’s narration during these sequences is strangely comforting, you know? We’re in the moment, following Beka and Achoo as they track scents. There’s little to no dialogue, and Pierce concerns herself with the details of a scent hound’s mission, nothing more. I love it.

There’s not much revealed after this, aside from the details of Farmer’s conversation with Gershom. Knowing that Gareth’s parents aren’t doing to well adds to the tension, certainly, but the story is clearly transition from one huge sequence to the next. I don’t know what these characters are going to come across next. Allies? Another roadblock or impediment? A clear path straight to Gareth? (No, not the last one; there are still over 200 pages left. OH GOD, WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?) Will we make it to Frasrlund? How unprepared am I? 

I’m seriously enjoying this book so much, y’all. THANK YOU FOR IT.

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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1 Response to Mark Reads ‘Mastiff’: Part 17

  1. Mizuki says:

    Spoilers abound. Kinda.

    Ohg…Bu tbq. Ghafgnyy. Jul. Jull.
    V’z qlvat.

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