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Best Served Cold Paperback – June 1, 2010
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"Joe Abercrombie takes the grand tradition of high fantasy literature and drags it down into the gutter, in the best possible way. Monza is a beautiful mercenary who has sworn to kill the seven men who tried to kill her. No elves, no wands - just lots of down-and-dirty swordplay." --- Time
"Abercrombie is both fiendishly inventive and solidly convincing, especially when sprinkling his appallingly vivid combat scenes with humor so dark that it's almost ultraviolet." --- "Publishers Weekly"
About the Author
- Publisher : Gollancz; UK ed. edition (June 1, 2010)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 672 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0575082488
- ISBN-13 : 978-0575082489
- Item Weight : 1.01 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.2 x 1.69 x 7.8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #247,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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Having said all that, there was no need to worry. He does an excellent job putting together a couple new characters you quickly care about while pulling in a bunch of secondary character from the first trilogy. The fact that it is relatively a stand alone novel means it is very fast paced - actually I respect the author in not trying to pull this story out into another trilogy which he could have easily done. Definitly an enjoyable read that I would highly recommend and I look forward to reading the later books in this world.
I have since started Joe Abercrombie's First Law Trilogy with The Blade Itself on audible and am finding it just as awesome. Without any reservations I can say that this book is, thus far, my absolute favorite audible experience, and one I highly recommend!
Monzcarro "Monza" Murcatto is the notorious leader of The Thousand Swords mercenary company that has brought victory after victory to her employer, Grand Duke Orso of Talins, becoming wealthy and popular as a result. Unfortunately, too popular for Orso’s liking which results in his ordering that Monza and her beloved brother Benna being thrown down a mountain. Unfortunately for Orso, she survives the stabbing, mutilating, garroting and a brutal fall. Now Monza wants vengeance against the seven men responsible: Orso's bodyguard Gobba, his banker Mauthis, the general of his armies Ganmark, her treacherous second-in-command Faithful Carpi, his sons Prince Ario and Count Foscar, and finally Orso himself. However, she cannot do it alone, so she enlists the help of an oddball carnival of psychopaths to aid her in her quest. This includes: Caul Shivers, a Northman looking to make a fresh start; Friendly, a number-obsessed ex-convict; Castor Morveer, a self-congratulatory blowhard of a poisoner, and his constantly eating apprentice Day; Shylo Vitari, a former Practical; and last, but by no means the least, the lovable scoundrel and drunkard has-been Nicomo Cosca who Monza betrayed to become leader of the Thousand Swords. Across Styria, they systematically work their way through Monza’s list. On the way, they not only kill their targets, but poison an entire bank full of people in Westport, burn a bordello to the ground in Sipani, and play no small role in the fate of Styria as a whole. Before Monza finally kills Duke Orso himself, he reveals that his fears were well-founded, and Benna was indeed planning to usurp him without Monza's knowledge. Meanwhile, various subplots interweaver Monza’s bloody-minded violent revenge. Bayaz and Khalul continue their machinations on the grand chessboard in Styria. Caul Shivers’ moral transformation from a likable optimist to a cold-blooded killer. Through Monza’s flashbacks we learn that her reputation as a butcher of the innocent, may not be as simple as all that. And a mysterious assassin called Shenkt who has his own plans for Monza, and his own desire for revenge … against Bayaz. In the end, a pregnant Monza is Grand Duchess of Talins just as Benna had planned, one of the only stable states in Styria and fulfilling Shenkt’s plan of an independent strong leader in Styria.
Like all of Abercrombie’s books of the First Law there are no purely good characters even though there are some awfully bad ones, but Monza might turn out to be one of the more morally positive by the end of the book than any of the other characters of Abercrombie’s work. All the characters followed throughout the book are well-written and intriguing, but the most intriguing is Benna who though killed in the first chapter worked to make Monza the ruler of a city though given what he did to ruin her reputation appeared to be setting her up to be assassinated so he could take over which would be a real Abercrombie thing to do. The long game of Shenkt appears to be something interest to look forward to for the future of the world especially given who the two big supernatural players of this world are.
Best Served Cold is a fantastic return by Joe Abercrombie to his First Law world that any fan of the original trilogy would enjoy.
Top reviews from other countries
Some philosophical musings on life, war, and revenge, certainly enhanced the quality of this book. Nicomo Cosca is a character from the original books who shines, with a backstory I certainly didn’t expect. Shenkt is someone I would really love to see more of, but my favourites from this book were Friendly (number obsessed former convict who would not be popular at Vegas casinos) and Morveer (the special kind of bastard that Joe Abercrombie writes so well).
Highly recommended, but if you’ve read any Joe Abercrombie at all, you really don’t need me to tell you how good this is.
It is a decent read but there were a few times when people did or said things that made no sense or were very out of character, just to move the plot in a certain way later on.
I sound pretty negative but I still enjoyed it and will be reading The Heroes soon!
Oh no. Joe has successfully pulled off the same trick as in the "First Law". The characters are fantastic and as the story progresses and you learn more about them, the distinction between the "goodies" and "baddies" again dissolves. The main character Murcatto and Nicomo Cosca are both mercenaries. They seem to have some good qualities, but at the same time they fight for money and change sides. I found it amazing reading a book where I genuinely didn't know what I thought of the characters.
As the story moves on there are different people on different sides and it's very difficult to know what is going to happen, or even who you still want to be alive! Amazing story.
Best Served Cold takes place in Styria, and follows Monza Murcatto. Amidst a backdrop of an already nineteen-year war and with one Grand Duke Orso locked in a vicious struggle with the League of Eight, Monza Murcatto and her brother Benna after seemingly getting too powerful are betrayed by Grand Duke Orso. Monza survives her brother, his death then leading her into a quest for revenge that will directly impact the outcome of this nineteen-year war.
The book is completely stand-alone, and this plot is brought to a close by its end. It is raw and gritty in every sense, and with the author’s typical dark humour. It drags the reader along on Monza’s revenge and all its repercussions, focusing on the characters as much as on the wider plot. Best Served Cold is beautifully crafted and with a fulfilling world which includes believable cultures and customs. The characters are deep and three dimensional, and all of their personal stories and tragedies are dealt with well and fit perfectly. They love and hate according to their pasts, and are oh so human. Something always great to see in the genre and perhaps expected of the author.
The book starts out excellently, and is a real page-turner. It isn’t neither too long nor too short, and though the revenge plot is hardly surprising in terms of originality, the excellent writing and characters make up for it. I loved the raw and gritty dialogue, the horrifying violence, and the darkness of it all. It was an excellent read, and it really grabbed me.
My only complaint, was that despite all of the great things about Best Served Cold the story and characters fell flat towards the end, and that towards the last pages the book was quite disappointing. Not in a really major way or enough to ruin the reading for me, but instead enough to notice it. It wasn’t bad by any means, just disappointing considering this was written by Joe Abercrombie and was set in the same world as The First Law. There didn’t seem to be any change at all for the characters, who seem to be stuck in who they were. Optimism is something one can have only in vain, and only Monza seems to change somewhat. The themes seem to make this book a more condensed version of The First Law, something which may cause some readers to dislike this book at least slightly.
Overall, and despite the negatives, I must say that I really enjoyed Best Served Cold. It generally lives up to The First Trilogy, and though I can’t say I enjoyed it as much as I did with the latter, it is truly excellent. The characters are beautifully crafted and the plot manages to be fascinating and dark. Though some readers will definitely not enjoy Joe Abercrombie’s brand of fantasy – a personal opinion on The First Law will serve for one to tell whether they’ll enjoy this book – it isn’t something to miss out if you enjoyed Abercrombie’s previous work. At the very least, Best Served Cold will thus be an entertaining read from cover to cover.
Good holiday read. A page-turner. I liked it.