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Best Served Cold Paperback – 1 Jun 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (1 Jun. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575082488
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575082489
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 4.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (198 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

UK fantasy writer Joe Abercrombie is the author of the First Law Trilogy: The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings, as well as the standalone fantasy Best Served Cold.

Joe now lives in Bath with his wife, Lou, and his daughters Grace and Eve. He still occasionally edits concerts and music festivals for TV, but spends most of his time writing edgy yet humorous fantasy novels.

Here are the First Law Trilogy in series order:

The Blade Itself
Before They Are Hanged
The Last Argument of Kings


Best Served Cold

Product Description


The battles are vivid and visceral, the action brutal, the pace headlong, and Abercrombie piles the betrayals, reversals, and plot twists one atop another to keep us guessing how it will all come out. This is his best book yet. (George RR Martin)

Joe Abercrombie is probably the brightest star among the new generation of British fantasy writers . . . Abercrombie never underestimates the horrors that people are prepared to inflict on one another, or their longlasting, often unexpected, consequences. Abercrombie writes a vivid, well-paced tale that never loosens its grip. His action scenes are cinematic in the best sense, and the characters are all distinct and interesting.' (THE TIMES)

A satisfyingly brutal fantasy quest. Best served cold? Modern fantasy doesn't get much hotter than this. (Dave Bradley SFX)

Spiked with cynicism, and indeed spikes, Best Served Cold has as much in common with a classic Hollywood caper as it does with the rest of the genre. Moral ambiguity, hard violence, and that weaving of laughter, horror and pathos make it breathe, though the brilliant characters are what really make this soar. This is the highest grade of adult, commercial fantasy we have seen for quite a while. (Guy Haley DEATHRAY)

Abercrombie weaves a dense plot, but not at the expense of the pace, and casts an ensemble of gritty, odd but always interesting characters to undertake Murcatto's revenge. Fans of Abercrombie's work will not be disappointed by his latest offering, which features all his usual hallmarks: cold steel, black comedy, fully realised characters and internecine struggles, both personal and epic. (DREAMWATCH)

This is deep, dark stuff but it's a mark of that nice Mr. Abercrombie's talent that he can wrap such complex themes in the kind of rip-roaring adventure that is so utterly compelling that, from the first page, it is impossible to put down. (SCI-FI LONDON)

All in all, we can't say enough good things about Mr Abercrombie's latest addition to the genre. It's intelligent, measure, thoughtful, well paced and considered, but retains a sense of fun that has flavoured the rest of his excellent biography. We can't recommend it enough. (James Rundle SCI FI NOW)

Best Served Cold exhibits Abercombie's trademark black humour in spades, and the standalone novel form provides him with ample opportunity to show off his plotting skills but don't let the glibness fool you, the author and his characters do recognise the terrible nature of the violence being described, and don't try to downplay the human cost. Best Served cold is definitely this author's best work to date. (BOOK GEEKS)

Of the great books in the genre this year, of which there are a few, Best Served Cold matches the best, without a doubt. For all its gruesomeness, its bleakness and its moral cynicism it is a rich, memorable tale, exciting and well structured. This will be a 'best of the year' novel for many in the genre. It is still a pleasure to see this author's talent develop. (SFFWORLD.COM)

Abercrombie is both fiendishly inventive and solidly convincing, especially when sprinkling his appallingly vivid combat scenes with humor so dark that it's almost ultraviolet. (PUBLISHERS WEEKLY)

Storms along at a breakneck pace. Each character has a history of betrayal and a wobbly moral compass, giving further realism and depth to Abercrombie's world. The violence is plentiful, the methods of exacting revenge are eye-wateringly inventive and the characters well fleshed out. A fan of Bernard Cornwell's historical escapades could easily fall for it. Believe the hype. (WATERSTONES BOOKS QUARTERLY)

Abercrombie's narrative twists and turns, playing with but also against the reader's expectations. His characters do likewise. Their realistic unpredictability means that it is almost impossible to determine what will eventually happen. One of the great pleasures of Joe Abercrombie's fiction is that his characters are so lifelike. (Maureen Kincaid Speller INTERZONE)

Joe Abercrombie's BEST SERVED COLD is a bloody and relentless epic of vengeance and obsession in the grand tradition, a kind of splatterpunk sword 'n sorcery COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO, Dumas by way of Moorcock. Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, could teach even Gully Foyle and Kirth Gersen a few things about revenge. (George RR Martin)

Abercrombie writes dark, adult fantasy, by which I mean there's a lot of stabbing in it, and after people stab each other they sometimes have sex with each other. His tone is morbid and funny and hardboiled, not wholly dissimilar to that of Iain Banks...Like Fritz Leiber you can see in your head where the blades are going, what is clanging off what, the sweat, the blood, the banter. And like George R. R. Martin Abercrombie has the will and the cruelty to actually kill and maim his characters. (TIME MAGAZINE) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Violent, bloody and fast-paced; this is the ultimate revenge fantasy by bestselling author Joe Abercrombie.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Procrastinators rule in a minute on 23 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback
Maybe it's because my life is an endless cycle of going to work and looking after small children, so I need some escapism. Maybe it's because I read this whilst struggling through Robert Jordan's Eye of the World. Or maybe it's because I found the story so gripping that I spent half term largely ignoring aforesaid small children, so I could immerse myself in the vaguely skewed version of earth as we know it; but I loved Best Served Cold.

Wy only 4 stars then? Well, partly because I never give top marks and party because...

What went well:

Non-stop action, with no interminable descriptions of travelling (Yes, Jordan, I mean you).

A group of misfit characters with few or no redeeming qualities.

HIghly enjoyable battles. I generally hate battle scenes almost much as descriptive passages, but Abercrombie manages them well - especially in the Heroes, but that's another story.

Strong female characters - keeping firmly away from the virgin/mother/whore thing; although by dint of the society Abercrombie creates, whores do tend to be the career move of the unfortunate.

Interesting take on the relationship between Shivers and Monza.

Development of Cosca. I liked him more here than in The Trilogy.

The vaguely episodic nature of the revenge.

Even better if:

There was more of Vitari, who actually emerged as the most interesting character, I found. Although perhaps that was because I'd met her before.

The Northmen could be a little more clearly delineated; Shivers came across as a little Nine-fingers-lite at times. And what's with the big softies falling in love at the drop of a pair of knickers? Can't they separate sex and emotions, or something?
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Jolly Roger on 3 May 2011
Format: Paperback
I'd not read Abercrombie's First Law trilogy before buying this book, but rather bought it because it was £1.99 in hardback in a book sale and I'd heard he was meant to be a pretty good author. After making sure that the book was a stand-alone novel (because I didn't want to get into another trilogy) I handed over my pennies and settled down to give it a go.

have to say, loved it. Loved his characters (more than two dimensional yet not quite more than caricatures) and thought the plot was great, with plenty of twists and turns and never knowing who will make it out alive. I especially liked the hinting at greater themes and larger plots working in the background. I enjoyed the book so much in fact that I finished it in three sittings and immediately ordered all three books in his debut trilogy.

If you're looking for a damn good fantasy read then buy with confidence.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By G. Duncan on 22 April 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After having finished the excellent First Law series, I looked forward to reading this, a new storyline centred around new or minor characters introduced in the First Law books. It opens rather well, taking a Northman across the sea to another new map and introduces the main characters in Abercrombie's normal style. I thought that from there, it would spin off into another un-put-down-able yarn which I would finish off within a week.

A year later, and I was sadly mistaken. This isn't a bad story, by any means. It's got several nice twists, some memorable characters that are transformed along the way ... it's just the problem I have with this revenge book is that there isn't enough balance to make it an enjoyable read. If you are at all familiar with Abercrombie's work, you will go into this expecting to be (darkly) amused, both by the wit he invests in his characters, and the ironies that play out in the stories they create.

It's disappointing then, to find that as relationships between characters become mangled (as with the characters themselves), the opportunity for humour and amusement is dampened like so much wasted Gurkish Powder. As much as you want to invest in the characters, their intrinsic unworthiness is extrapolated out before halfway, ensuring that you have a pretty insurmountable barrier of dislike to overcome before you even begin to try to enjoy the actual story. Which is pretty bleak.

Best served cold is definitely served cold, as opposed to spicy; the main character is a maudlin model of incest (wrung from the same loins as Jaime Lannister somewhat), largely dead of wit and hollow inside.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By GOTTON TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 29 July 2014
Format: Paperback
Best served cold is the second time I have wanted to give a five star review to a novel by Joe Abercrombie but after finishing the book I just can't quite allow myself to do just that.

Before discussing my reason for this book loosing a star though, let's start with what was potentially 5 star material.

I was quite awe struck by the First Law trilogy and my introduction to Joe Abercrombie. What I was reading was a series of gritty, harsh and almost terrifying fantasy that has become very popular since the Game of Thrones TV show brought the world's attention to George R R Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. However, where the other books I have read in the same vein fall short of Martin's brilliant books, Abercrombie's have been (in my opinion) far more enjoyable and this is true here as well.

One of my criticisms of this harsh and gritty sub-genre is that it is a constant downer and an effort to read. The crushing defeats and constant cruelties can make reading the books hard work. However, Joe Abercrombie has brilliantly compensated for this by including lots of his wonderful yet admittedly dark humour to his books. This humour is in abundance in Best Served Cold and the book is better for it.

In what is effectively a very brutal revenge story that extends beyond simple killing into all out war on a large scale I was surprised to find myself grinning and laughing all the way through. The jokes find their way into every dark scene at just the right time to both leave the horror of the situation whilst also allowing you to stomach what is happening. Because of this I never feel the need to put down the book and take a breath but instead keep reading as I am eager to find out what happens next.
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