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Best Served Cold Hardcover – July 29, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 427 customer reviews

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Golden Age (The Shifting Tides)
With a seafaring region on the brink of war, dangerous alliances have to be made. Learn More
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Abercrombie returns to the blood-drenched arena of the First Law trilogy (The Blade Itself, etc.) with this skillfully crafted and bleakly humorous sword and sorcery adventure. Duke Orso imagines that he can become king by ending the civil wars that have devastated Styria, but he errs by trying to kill his overly popular general, mercenary Monza Murcatto. Recovering from her massive injuries and mourning her murdered brother, Monza vows vengeance on Orso and half a dozen of his accomplices. Employing her own motley crew of death dealers, Monza gets her revenge, but it's neither simple nor satisfying; each target requires fresh strategy, and each death has unexpected effects. 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. (Aug.)
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Review

"The battles are vivid and visceral, the action brutal, the pace headlong, and Abercrombie piles the betrayals, reversals, and plot twists one atop another to keep us guessing how it will all come out. This is his best book yet." --- George R.R. Martin

"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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; 1 edition (July 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316044962
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316044967
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (427 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
When the infamous mercenary captain, Monza Murcatto, seems to be getting too powerful, her employer, Duke Orso, attempts to have her and Benna, Monza's next-in-command, killed. Short work is made of Benna, but, by a cruel twist of fate, Monza survives, just barely. And her quest for vengeance sets a spark to the powder-keg that is the country of Styria during the Years of Blood.

Best Served Cold is a stand-alone novel that takes place in the same world as Joe Abercrombie's acclaimed The First Law series. To his many fans (of which I'm certainly one), I say: you'll be more than pleased with Best Served Cold. Along with a colorful array of new characters -- criminals, henchmen, assassins, power-hungry nobles, and mercenaries -- several of the second-string characters from The First Law play a major part. I'd list them, but half the fun of this book is guessing just who will show up. I will just give you this much: if you liked the despicable soldier-of-fortune Nicomo Cosca before, or maybe even if you didn't, you're gonna love him in Best Served Cold.

Mr. Abercrombie's stories have been called "fantasy noir" and I can't think of a better description. Think Quentin Tarantino or Guy Ritchie doing a fantasy movie and you just about have the right idea. Mr.Abercrombie's First Law and Best Served Cold has edginess, a multitude of criminals, raw and gritty dialogue, horrifyingly realistic violence, and dark humor.

Best Served Cold drags the reader along on Monza's grim and unyielding vendetta which in turn ignites vengeful repercussions that only throw other deadly events into motion. It was fascinated to watch how one person's obsession can drag so many others down with it and how once someone starts down a dark path, their whole self-concept can change.
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Format: Hardcover
Best Served Cold has to be the most anticipated Fantasy read this year. As soon as I got my greedy hands on it I just had to start. All the fervor over the cover design doesn't matter in the end. It is the pages between the cover that counts and that is truly entertaining. Abercrombie is building on the world he started with The First Law Trilogy although centering it on parts not visited prior, namely Styria and it related nations. Yet it differs from First Law in that it is a much more personal story. He does include a couple minor characters from First Law although they grow much from what they start as. As the title suggests revenge is the driving force. Monza Murcatto is Grand Duke Orso's most trusted general who has won him many battles, but now he feels she has become to popular and will try to usurp him. Orso has Monza's brother Benna killed and nearly her as well in an incredibly detailed account of her literal fall from his graces.

After Monza heals (partially) she begins gathering a group to help get revenge upon those who killed her brother. Abercrombie has done a superb job creating another stellar cast of characters you just love to hate and hate to love along with the most gritty action that could be wanted. Surprisingly, I found the most redeemable character in Friendly, who is a cold blooded killer with an utter fascination for numbers. Although unlike most of the other characters he is very straight forward with his dealings and is perhaps left the most untwisted in the end. Abercrombie still manages a fine balance of well realized characters, believable dialogue with a detailed world while also masterly offering twists and turns to the plot and characters.
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Format: Hardcover
Best Served Cold is yet another showcase of Joe Abercrombie's wonderful writing ability. The characters are hardly cardboard cutouts - Abercrombie does a fantastic job of making them all come alive, and each individual feels quite human. In The First Law trilogy, the reader felt as though they were right there with Logen, Jezal, and Ferro on their halfway-epic journey. Best Served Cold offers the same feeling, but delves even deeper into the psyche of the main characters, the events they experience, and the changes they undergo as a result of those experiences. Abercrombie's strength is in his ability to create believable characters, and have them develop and change (and not always for the better!). He's said himself that he's not a worldbuilder, but instead attempts to create stories that focus on people. The Circle of the World is built through their eyes, instead of from the perspective of an omnipotent narrator.

Best Served Cold is bloody. Even bloodier than any of The First Law books, especially on a personal level. Abercrombie does an amazing job of reinforcing the notion that Styria is a land of chaos, where backstabbing is commonplace and the idea of "every man for himself" is the norm. These themes were present in The First Law books, but they are only exponentially multiplied in this new setting.

However, Best Served Cold is not without its flaws. In furthering the idea that violence is a part of everyday life, Abercrombie sometimes goes too far. A LOT of tertiary and unnamed "extras" are killed. Sure, in the Trilogy, hundreds die, but those deaths are implied as an inevitable result of war. Many of BSC's deaths are firsthand and personal, but they become too numerous, and the reader eventually becomes numb to them.
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