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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Genuinely mystified by the bad reviews.
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...
Published 17 months ago by Procrastinators rule in a minute

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bleak
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...
Published 11 months ago by G. Duncan


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4.0 out of 5 stars More like 'Best Watch Your Back!', 8 Dec. 2012
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There's a strong appeal to this book that marks it out as special, but if I mention what it is then it might spoil it for anyone that hasn't read it. So I shall not. I've no doubt you can find out what that 'Special something' is by looking at other reviews but if you have not already looked at others my advice is "Don't". I had not read any reviews before I read this and I was delighted as the story unfolded.

Why did I not read reviews? This was the fifth Abercrombie book that I read, so I did not need any recommendation from others to read it. It might be the best so far, although I am about to start on Red Country, his latest book. Joe Abercrombie is great at writing fast-paced books, filled with cynical characters of questionable morality. His description of action and combat is among the best I've read. He does not write about improbable heroes and noble causes. He has a dark sense of humour and the language his characters use is earthy and strong.

If you want a good adventure read that moves quickly and will be hard to put down then try this book. It is a refreshing contrast to the long sets of sagas that other fantasy writers produce. The style is closer to Bernard Cornwell (another of the authors I like) than Robert Jordan or George RR Martin, although there is as much treachery and bloodshed as Mr Martin's books. While the return of various characters from other books might suggest this is part of a series, the story is still self-contained and so this is also similar to Bernard Cornwell's books.

I hope you enjoy as much as I did.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best Read Now, 30 Sept. 2011
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This review is from: Best Served Cold (Paperback)
Joe Abercrombie showed in his `First Law' trilogy that he was one of the masters of the new style low fantasy - the type of fantasy that paints a bleak picture full of real people rather than dragons and goblins. However, the third book in the series fell away as Abercrombie was not quite able to keep the momentum long enough to finish three books. Therefore, a one off mini epic should suit his style better and if there is one way to describe `Best Served Cold' it is as an epic. Taking the basic structure of `The Count of Monte Cristo' it follows the violent revenge of Monza Murcatto, a female mercenary leader who is wronged.

A good author can grab a reader's attention in the first 50 pages, a great author in 30. A fantastic author like Abercrombie can do it in 10. `Best Served' opens up on one of the best scenes I have read in recent fantasy. The characters are set up beautifully and you know exactly where you want to be as a reader, on the side of the anti-hero Monza and her less than savoury allies. There is no black and white in this book as the enemies are as twisted as the heroes, but rather than making the `good' guys unpleasant, it makes them appear more human. I genuinely felt a compassion for them and their mission.

As `Best Served' is set in the same world as the original `First Law' trilogy there is a little to be gained from knowing the background. Abercrombie uses some of the lesser known characters from previous books and soon proves they are as literally relevant as the likes of Nine Fingers. The extra knowledge is like a bonus for the longer term fan, but new readers needn't worry as the story itself is a strong one and rattles along at a blistering pace.

The best book I have read so far this year. Sammy Recommendation.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A very good, entertaining read, 13 Oct. 2014
A very good, entertaining read. It’s been coming up on five years since I read The First Law trilogy, and I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to get back to Joe Abercrombie’s writing. While I’m always slightly sceptical about the amount of worldbuilding which can be fit into a standalone book, the way in which Abercrombie manages it is nothing short of artful, revealing the world a little part at a time. While he is aided by the fact that his books are all set in the same world, the level of detail is breath-taking.The style of writing as well makes it very easy and fun to read, with interesting characters.
In terms of content, I do always enjoy –as non-sensical as it might sound- fantasy which does not emphasise magic, as it is all too easy nowadays to find books with poorly thought-out systems. The plot develops very quickly, in the potentially predictable arc of a classic story of revenge. The setbacks encountered are entertaining and unpredictable however, and there is no shying away from maiming main characters – something which, in the least morbid way possible, I also tend to enjoy in books.
In short, I would certainly recommend Best Served Cold, and am looking forward to starting on The Heroes. I cannot believe I’ve managed to read so many other authors without reading Joe Abercrombie again, and it will not be another five years before I read another of his books.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Always warm., 20 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: Best Served Cold (Paperback)
I have only read two of this authors books before and like the other two I find him hard to pin down. The tales are all similar in style and construction, Anti hero plus anti hero and a few other anti heroes go up against a baddie and through a long slog win. The quality of the writing has improved since the first of his novels that I read but still varies between “rather good” and “pretty awful” sometimes even in the same paragraph. That said, and those were the bad points, I have enjoyed all three of the novels, this one more than the other two.

Mr Abercrombie seems to have a knack for drawing the reader into his fantasy world and keeping them there. He reminds me, in a small way of “David Gemmell” and has similar talents and that, obviously, is a good thing.

I always have the feeling that I should not enjoy Mr Abercrombie’s books and should tell everyone that they are terrible but that is where my reviewing process breaks down. As, despite all I have said, I have enjoyed each of those I have read and been caught up in them, reading for hours at a time needing to read the ending,that I already know, but still they hold me.

Recommended by me with a good rating of three stars from five.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Meh, 11 May 2014
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Read the first law trilogy, enjoyed it, bought this hoping for more of the same. It's not there I'm afraid. I didn't really connect with any of the characters, Shivers felt like a watered down bloody nine, other characters felt pointless (Day, Friendly) and Monza was too one dimensional to really feel anything for. I felt a little cheated by the 'twist' at the end too, I was hoping for a battle royale clash with Shenkt, and got nothing. Meh
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just my cup of tea., 13 Dec. 2013
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When I read, I read for enjoyment. I read to be entertained. I don't really care whether an author creates a perfect piece of written English, whether it holds up to literary classics or whether or not it enhances my world view.

I'm not saying that Joe Abercrombie falls short in any of these cases. Just that I probably wouldn't notice if he did.

What I can say is he has created what could arguably be the perfect novel for me. It's fantasy, but light fantasy (no elves, no orcs). It's action packed to the gills (and you get every juicy detail). It has interesting and engaging characters (there's a handful of major players and you're living life altering journey's with each and every one). It's all grey area (there's no light versus dark here, no goodies and baddies, everyone's a bastard and you love them for it).

This is my first ever review, so I excuse my ramblings, but I was compelled to share my love of this book in case it could sway even one person into buying this.

If you love action packed fantasy that will keep you turning pages for days on end, give Joe Abercrombie your money. He deserves it and you won't regret it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I would now be happy to read the trilogy, 3 Oct. 2012
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Philtrum (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Best Served Cold (Hardcover)
Although I was aware that he'd written a trilogy before this was published, I didn't want to commit to reading three books before I getting some idea of the quality of the writing.

I would now be happy to read the trilogy.

This is set in a middle-ages type world, with Tolkien levels of technology, but no (or very, very little) magic.

The plot concerns a female mercenary who, with her brother, is thrown over a balcony at the start of the book. Her brother is killed but she lives (just), and is found and patched up by a proto-surgeon. She then spends the rest of the book avenging her brother's death and her attempted murder by killing the seven people who were in the room when she and her brother were thrown to their deaths.

The language is blue. The violence is gory. There is a fairly big emphasis on politics, and, though set in an ancient world, a lot of the thinking in the book is very 21st century.

I don't read a lot of fantasy but I enjoyed this. The tone is very similar to the Richard Morgan fantasy books (The Cold Commands and The Steel Remains) which, for me, is a good thing.

8/10
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sadly served tepid, 9 Nov. 2010
This review is from: Best Served Cold (Paperback)
The plot is covered at length in other reviews so I'll cut to the chase. This is a spin-off from Abercombie's First Law trilogy, but is sadly very mediocre in comparison. It's perfectly capably written, with some exciting passages and some stretches that are even close to page-turner status; Abercrombie is a quality author after all. Some of the nods to the preceding trilogy and the larger world hint at what could have been.

But in the final analysis this book fails to engage. Where the trilogy offered three-dimensional characters with a dash of uniqueness like Logen Ninefingers, Sand dan Glokta and co, the lead protagonist here - Monza Murcatto - is paper thin. Lacking depth, empathy, humour she is also inconsistent - a supposed master tactician whose tactics are crude and blunt. Only Nicomo Cosca, a mercenary who also appeared in the trilogy, has anything at all about him.

For those who know the BBC programme - this book could have been a "Hustle"-style gem. A sequence of clever little plots neatly strung together in an entertaining fashion - good, simple fun as befits a spin-off. Instead it's formulaic and crude and - from an author who really did break the mold with the First Law - "formulaic" is probably a disappointing epithet!
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40 of 49 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Best Served Cold is Luke Warm, 5 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Best Served Cold (Hardcover)
As there are a lot of other reviews going over story and plotline I wont bother.
This is a solid book, a good piece of writing but - its nothing special. Compared to the author's first trilogy this book lacks a certain something or somethings - perhaps its the fact the lead character isn't particularly interesting, shes a pretty buttoned down, unemotional, non quirky kind of gal with a dose of steel a mile wide, or that all the characters are far less developed than any of those in the trilogy, or... well whatever it is, this book doesn't thrill like the First Law set.
Although this book is a standalone - it does help somewhat if you have read the trilogy first, some vague hand waving and nods towards the greater political sphere will fit with a much more satisfying depth if you actually understand some of the bit part players threats, fear and doubt. Without it, I should say that some scenes will come across as a bit light - Who, What, How now ?
In short, this is a fine book, but it doesn't emotionally engage like his other titles, its much more 2D, and reads like its going through the motions in places. Just... another... 1,000 words... and then I'm done with this chapter. Not that its ever boring. Its just not going to set your world alight.
I seem to recall the author fretting that this book wasn't as good as the First Law trilogy, and rationalising that not everything can be great, but maybe his mind was playing tricks on him and it would be great. I would say his first instinct was right in this case - good, but nowhere near best.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superlative dark fantasy, 1 Feb. 2014
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The story of a vengeful kick-ass uber-bitch, a hard-bitten mercenary seeking the blood of her former employers. Crippled, bitter, amoral, she gathers together a band of scumbags and blazes a trail of carnage eliminating her quarry. The scene where her team auditions a motley band of operatives for the raid on a brothel is darkly comic and shows how the author nimbly steers between thriller and farce.

Despite every single character in this book being a vile bastard with no redeeming features whatsoever, it's a hoot. Abercrombie knows the genre well enough to take whatever liberties he chooses and get clean away. I've read all his stuff, and although this book isn't his most well-regarded it's still my favourite by a country mile. I read it in two sittings and am planning a re-read.

If you want hearty hobbits, stout dwarves and a hey-nonnie-no then avoid this book. If you want murder, pillage and blood executed (literally) with panache and a stylish contempt for vanilla fantasy then give yourself a treat.
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Best Served Cold
Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie BA (Hardcover - 1 Jun. 2009)
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