REVIEW: Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

Last Updated on June 25, 2024

Best Served Cold is the first entry of three standalones set after the fantastic First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. It has dark humour, a vile cast and action so bloody and grim you can practically see the spouts of shooting blood on the pages. What’s not to love?

“What do the dice say?”
Dice say nothing. They are dice.”
Why roll’em, then?”
They are dice. What else would I do with them?”

2315892Two years from the end of The Last Argument of Kings, Best Served Cold takes us to the land of Styria – one that is ridden with war, death, revenge and many other unpleasantries. We follow the story of Monza Murcatto, on her path for vengeance after she is betrayed, her brother murdered and she is injured. All against Grand Duke Orso.

“You were a hero round these parts. That’s what they call you when you kill so many people the word murderer falls short.”

It’s a simple and direct story, with a few twists here, but for the most part, is a brutal revenge story with characters who make the cast of Reservoir Dogs seem like the good guys.

“When God means to punish a man He sends him stupid friends and clever enemies.”

After binging The First Law trilogy I fell in love with the characters. When reading Best Served Cold I found it hard to grow a meaningful connection with the cast, maybe because The First Law characters were so damn good. However, there are some familiar faces from the previous trilogy that was immensely enjoyable to be able to shed new light on them.

“That was the difference between a hero and a villain, a soldier and a murderer, a victory and a crime. Which side of a river you called home.”

The plot, although simple, was full of fantastic scenes. There are some of the most brutal moments Abercrombie has written here, as well as some *truly* disturbing sex scenes that I couldn’t stop laughing throughout. All of the glory and romanticism is taken from everything and sheeted with a coat of morally grey paint.

“My name is Nicomo Cosca, famed solider of fortune, and I am here for dinner.”

Although not as strong as The First Law – not much is – I still enjoyed Best Served Cold. There are intriguing characters with dialogue so witty you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel. The interactions are clever and I look forward to delving deeper into these standalones within The First law universe.

“Sometimes men change for the better. Sometimes men change for the worse. And often, very often, given time and opportunity . . .’ He waved his flask around for a moment, then shrugged. ‘They change back.”

4/5 – A fun read, with great scenes. Although the main character Monza was totally dislikable in a whole new level for most of the time, I still really enjoyed this read. Bring on The Heroes!

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Edward Gwynne

Edward Gwynne

Ed is a medieval re-enactor, spending his weekends hitting people with various shaped weapons. Ed is also a primary school teacher and spends the weekdays telling children not to hit people with various shaped weapons. He has been influenced by his brilliant dad to spend as much time reading fantasy and historical-fiction. Huzzah!

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