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.