Monday, 19 November 2012

Review: Best Served Cold

Best Served Cold
Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

They paid her to kill.

They paid her to win.

But they did not pay her to die.

Styria is a country on a knife-edge. Grand Duke Orso stands to one side of the blade, on the other, the League of Eight. One little slip…and there’ll be blood.

Monza Murcatto has walked her fair share of knife-edge moments. The Snake of Talins, the most feared and famous mercenary in Duke Orso’s employ. She climbed her way to the top of the popularity mountain, and in doing so has become a popular enemy for the League of Eight…and too popular for the Duke’s liking.

Sometimes it’s not enough to slip on a knife’s edge…it’s about being thrown off of a mountain. Literally.

Left for dead after being pushed from a cliff, Monza sets out on a mission to take what is owed to her. Joined by a man infamous for his death-defying drunken debacles, a poisoner looking out for number one, a prisoner looking out for whatever number he rolls next, and a Northman who’s number is up and is just out to do the right thing, Monza is about to discover that she’s playing the minor part in a greater game.

There’s a lot of parts in the great game of life, but…

The best part of betrayal?


Joe Abercrombie’s ‘Best Served Cold’ is a standalone novel set after his debut trilogy ‘The First Law’. ‘Best Served Cold’ is a story of redemption, revelry, and red-handed revenge.

In ‘Best Served Cold’, Monza Murcatto is a woman in demand. But not just any old demand, she’s at popular demand for her victories as Grand Duke Orso’s mercenary. But popularity isn’t all its cut out to be, and after Grand Duke Orso demands her death, Monza is betrayed. Clinging to life by her fingernails, Monza sets out with her own demand. A demand for revenge.

Though Monza is the key character of ‘Best Served Cold’, her companions proved to be just as pivotal to the plot. Friendly the ex-prisoner, the two poisoners (Master & Apprentice), Shivers the Northman, the mysterious Vitari, and the infamous Nicomo Cosca. Each plays such a part that the entire story could be about them, if not for the whole ‘Monza DEMANDS revenge’ piece. Cosca, Shivers and Vitari are familiar faces for those of you who have read ‘The First Law’, but each is fresh-faced (well…maybe not Shivers by the end of the book *wink*wink*) and ready to go in ‘Best Served Cold’, making for some interesting character developments.

Abercrombie, as ever, has a mastery of cinematic writing. The fight scenes are epic, bordering obscene, but you could easily imagine them on the ‘big screen’. Sex, violence, murder – and that’s just in the first few chapters. The ‘Revenge’ plot has been done time and time again in fantasy books, but ‘Best Served Cold’ drags the reader kicking and screaming down familiar corridors to an unexpected end. Though the pace of the plot slips at points, I found that the characters carried the story of their own accord.

I came away from ‘Best Served Cold’ with two black eyes. At first because the book beat the living day lights out of me with its relentless bloody-mindedness, and two because I spent both daylight and night reading it I was that hooked. It’s not for the fainthearted that’s for sure!

Best Served…? Cold blooded killers don’t come colder than this.

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