In the twenty-first part of Mastiff, YOU HAVE TO BE FUCKING KIDDING ME. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Mastiff.
GOD. WHAT THE HELL???
Trigger Warning: For discussion of death/gore.
The more I read this book, the more convinced I am that y’all knew I would constantly lose my shit over this story. Because sweet mother of gods, this is has been an unreal experience. This whole fucking book has been building towards a confrontation with the Viper and the people responsible for this wretched plot, and Pierce just yanked the rug out from under us. Who the hell took Prince Gareth this time???
Let’s back up, because there’s some other stuff I wanted to bring up before I resumed YELLING AT A BOOK. Particularly, I wanted to talk about why Beka Copper matters so much in this narrative. I expected that the group would leave immediately upon waking, but I’m glad that Beka gets a chance to talk to the wood pigeons in the shed who are carrying two of the ghosts of the burned. Yes, it does advance the plot a bit since we get details about the man who set the fire the previous night. (Y’all, he dumped oil on people while they slept. Holy shit.) But I don’t think it’s an important scene because of that. Beka gets the information she needs, and then she remains and offers up her prayers to the Black God for these people. She goes out of her way to find the bodies of the two she spoke to and promises to catch their killer.
She didn’t have to do that, and I’m sure the Black God would have felt satisfied by her general prayer. But the point here (and this is related to what I wrote in the last review) is that Beka routinely thinks of how she can help those who can no longer help themselves. I mentioned that in the video while I was reading this, and I believe this is a good example of that. Note that she’s still in the midst of THE WORST, MOST EXHAUSTING HUNT OF HER LIFE, and she still takes time to do this.
This is relevant later because of that thing. OH GOD.
I should also note that this section includes demonstrations of kindness from all four characters, so my analysis is not limited to Beka alone. It’s a common thing among them, though they all show said kindness in different ways, whether it’s by passing the hostlers money to pay for repairs or tipping guards just to be friendly. Despite that these people all have a ton of reasons to be jaded and cynical, they still seek the best in others.
It was kind of nice to get back on the Hunt, though. I said this last week, but I feel so comfortable in these passages, and this is no exception. It’s pleasing to read about them settling into their tracking, though I was frustrated that they all had to abandon their search for the arsonist. But really, has anything gone in their favor on this Hunt? Their primary goal was always to rescue Prince Gareth, so it was just a pipe dream that they’d be able to get the arsonist, too. But who is he? How did he know where to set the fire? Where is he headed? Will I ever get any answers?
After this section of Mastiff, WHO KNOWS??? I was just going back through it, and there’s that whole section where Beka figured out how many people were traveling with the cart that held Prince Gareth, and PIERCE WAS ACTIVELY TRICKING US. There is so much time spent on this unseen adversary. She built up the Viper; she detailed the cruelty of these people; she made the entire main conflict of this novel about catching these people. And in one stroke, I find out that THIS ISN’T EVEN HOW THEY’RE GOING TO FIND PRINCE GARETH. When Achoo and Beka came upon the dead bodies, I initially assumed it was more people who simply got in the way. (Note that I didn’t actually recognize the cart as it was described; blame that on me forgetting the details of it from an earlier part of the book.) That’s been the pattern so far, so… yeah. Yeah. I’m still in shock because… what the fuck has this book become? How on earth is this what they have to deal with???
“That’s the Viper,” farmer and I began at once. He looked at me with the tiniest of smiles and went on.
(Oh god they are so cute I just want to squish their faces together.)
“When I cast the cocoon spell at the poisoned stream, we saw the mage who cast it. This woman is the Viper, and no sword touched her body. She was slain by magic. Strong magic, to break through the trap I had on her and defeat her own power.”
Who? Who could have done this? Who is stronger than the Viper and Farmer? WHY DID THEY KILL THE ENTIRE PARTY EXCEPT FOR PRINCE GARETH AND THE NAMELESS OTHER MAGE? Was it the other mage? We don’t know much about her, but… bandits? Could it have been a random attack? I DON’T FUCKING UNDERSTAND, THIS WAS THE WHOLE POINT OF THE BOOK. They were supposed to catch up to these people! But now… this??? This is what I’m dealing with?
So you have to understand I was already distraught and confused by this massive plot twist, and then THE BLACK GOD HIMSELF SHOWS UP TO TAKE CARE OF ALL THE DEAD BODIES SO THAT NO ONE ELSE HAS TO. Y’all, I was ready to cry when he said this:
They are safe in my Realm. They shall have a rest, and then another chance. Continue your work, Rebekah Cooper. You are a good servant to me, and a good friend to my messengers.
OH MY GOD, THE BLACK GOD PRAISED BEKA FOR WHAT SHE’S DONE IN THESE BOOKS, Y’ALL. THIS IS TOO MUCH. Just…. see??? Beka Cooper matters, and being kind and considerate of others, and putting others before yourself when you can is just… it’s meaningful. It’s a moral thing to do. And the Black God just validated that for her.
Excuse me, I’m not fine.
[Achoo had] gone but a couple of yards that way when she shrieked and leaped into the air, dropping to the ground like a stone. I screamed and cut across the grassy turf between me and her, running for all I was worth. I was when I reached her that everything went white.
YOU’RE KIDDING ME. WHAT HAVE I DONE TO MYSELF.
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