Several months back I found myself with a good deal of time to kill. My grand plan was to run an errand about an hour from home and visit a Boarders bookstore in the area for new reading material. I wasn’t terribly impressed by their Fantasy selection, but one book caught my eye, Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie.
Armed with my latest purchase, I drove to a local cigar shop and planned on enjoying a cigar while I immersed myself in the novel. After arriving I got caught up in conversation and never cracked open the book. Later that evening I visited a Science Fiction and Fantasy forum to get some insight on the book. As it turned out, it was suggested that I start with the First Law Trilogy before getting into the then latest Abercrombie tale.
Title: Best Served Cold
Author: Joe Abercrombie
Published By: Orbit
Published Date: July 2009
Length: 632 Pages
Purchase: Amazon Kindle Edition @ $2.99
Monzcarro (Monza) Murcatto and her brother Benna are mercenaries. Together they have built a reputation for themselves as heartless killers that will stop at nothing to place the crown of Styria atop Orso’s head. As Monza and Benna grow more and more popular among the people, Orso becomes concerned that the pair may attempt to steal his place of power.
To put his mind at rest, the pair are invited into his chamber and ordered disposed of. Outnumbered and caught completely by surprise, Benna is killed before his sisters eyes. Monza struggles to fight back and is thrown from a balcony, sent tumbling down a mountain.
Her hellacious fall down the mountain leaves her badly broken and near death, the only thing which saved her was Benna’s dead body breaking her fall. Expecting death to come, her world goes black. Some time later she wakes to find that she has been coarsely mended by a stranger she deems the Bone Collector.
Dragging her mangled body from the Bone Collector’s hut, she vows to seek vengeance for the death of her beloved brother. With a desire to kill, Monza sets out on a journey to track down and murder the seven people responsible for Benna’s death and her mangled body.
Before reading The First Law trilogy, I spent a great deal of time reading through nine novels by Robin Hobb. As a result, I found myself stuck on Hobb’s writing style and Joe Abercrombie’s writing felt clunky. While I enjoyed The Blade Itself (Book 1 of The First Law trilogy), it wasn’t until I read Before They Are Hanged (Book 2 of The First Law trilogy) that I really got into Abercrombie’s writing. When I completed Last Argument of Kings (Book 3 of The First Law trilogy), I wanted nothing more than to dive into Best Served Cold.
Having read so many trilogies, I found the stand alone novel a little more difficult to get into. The story seemed to develop much faster than I was used to. I wasn’t sure that I liked the speed at which plot twists were revealed and characters developed. Before I reached the one-hundred page mark, I had trouble putting the book down. Abercrombie’s dark humor and gritty characters sucked me in.
Much like Abercrombie’s previous work, it was filled with violence and raw sex scenes. Each character had a personality that was both admiring and deeply disturbing, making for a story that was exciting. While I did not enjoy it as much as The First Law Trilogy, I enjoyed it thoroughly. The ending was done very well, leaving plenty of room to build on in future books.