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Best Served Cold Paperback – 1 Jun 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 222 customer reviews

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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: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (222 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 100,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Highly recommended - a funny, finely-wrought, terrifically energetic work of high fantasy. Seek it out (Joe Hill)

Book Description

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

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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