Review: Best Served Cold
We will leave you for the weekend with our review of this stand-alone novel by Joe Abercrombie set in First Law Trilogy universe.
There are few books we have looked forward to more, after finishing THE LAST ARGUMENT OF KINGS (Amazon), than Abercrombie’s next. So when we first heard word of BEST SERVED COLD (Amazon) we could barely contain our excitement. In other words, Steve ran around squealing like a 15-year-old girl and clapping excitedly.
Right from the get-go you know what this book about, and it doesn’t pretend to be anything else. It’s a fast-paced, action and twisted humor-filled tale of a woman’s pursuit of revenge. They say Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and Monza Murcatto makes that sound like a silly understatement.
In BEST SERVED COLD Abercrombie introduces a smattering of new characters who meet up with some of the most interesting supporting cast from his First Law Trilogy to great effect (Nick literally cheered out-loud when the Northman took the ‘stage’). If Joe were a nuclear physicist, and the characters components in his lab, BEST SERVED COLD would be one hell of a bomb. Each of the characters have believable strengths, faults, and motivations. Despite the fact that they are all pretty awful people as far as morality goes, they are sympathetic, and we think everyone can find a bit of themselves if these characters.
The plot really is simply about revenge (Really, did you expect anything else with a title like BEST SERVED COLD?), and there are very few surprises. But Joe’s execution of the telling of this tale anything but simple. Much like Patrick Rothfuss did with the coming-of-age magician tale THE NAME OF THE WIND (Amazon), Joe Abercrombie is the puppet master behind the new king of the revenge story. Has there been a better attempt/success? It is our not-so-humble opinion that there hasn’t. Ever.
Something that intrigued us early on is that Abercrombie acknowledges, through his characters, the toll their actions take. They understand they are awful people, and consider the cost of their actions frequently. This is something we haven’t seen a whole lot of in recent fantasy books. It is refreshing to see the gray characters (because really black and white characters bore us to death) reflect on their actions a bit. In BEST SERVED COLD, we found our favorite shade of gray. Almost black.
There is a very real magical quality in the way Abercrombie writes that entrances us. There is an artistry behind the words, and it sucks us in. From the opening scene of BEST SERVED COLD, we are reminded of what makes Abercrombie so good. The banter between the the characters–and the exciting events that the characters are wrapped up in–makes us nearly weep with happiness. Weep. Us. We know, right?
- Recommended Age: 18+
- Language: The main characters are poisoners, murderers, criminals, soldiers, and torturers. Do you really think they would have a problem swearing? They swear like its their job.
- Violence: Luckily, swearing isn't their job. Killing people is. They do it well. Lots of it.
- Sex: There are a couple sex scenes, some innuendo, reference to sexual acts, but Abercrombie, again though, seems to treat it all mostly as a joke.
Joe is a great guy, and will answer your emails. Go check out his site:
Nick’s Note: The book rested on my desk–taunting me while I was busy with others–for a few days, which is no mean feat seeing as Abercrombie is in the trio of my favorite authors — the others being Bakker (Amazon) and Lynch (Amazon) — before I finally picked it up.
I didn’t move from that spot until I had turned the last page. As you can tell from the review, Abercrombie has overthrown Bakker as my top pick.
If you think I’m overzealously gushing about this novel, buy it, read it, and prepare yourself for the realization that I am totally right, and this book deserves it.
If you haven’t read the THE FIRST LAW TRILOGY, shame on you! Go buy and read them while you’re out and about.