Monday, August 31, 2009

Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie Review

Best Served Cold is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated releases of 2009, which is no surprise considering the immense success Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy received. Everyone wants to know if Abercrombie can do it again and the short answer is: yes he can.

Monza Murcatto, leader of the mercenary band the thousand swords has been betrayed by her employer Grand Duke Orso. Her beloved brother has been murdered and she was left for dead, leaving her scarred and with a crippled right hand. Naturally she wants vengeance on the seven men who took part in her betrayal and thanks to a fortune she has kept hidden she has the resources to do it. Among her allies are Shivers a northman who is trying to be a better man. Friendly a mass murderer obsessed with numbers. Styria’s least reiliable drunkard and Monza’s predecessor in the thousand swords (who she incidentally betrayed) Nicomo Cosca and Morveer a treachous poisoner. As you might imagine things quickly get interesting.

Unsurprisingly violence, mayhem, torture and action ensue from the get go and don’t let up until the end. But none of these things really define Abercrombie’s writing; his main strength always has been and is here again the strength and depth of the believable characters he creates. I would struggle to name many authors who can get in the head of a character as well as Abercrombie can when writing from their perspective. Each character perspective genuinely feels different. My only real criticism is that there is a little bit too much introspection from some of the characters especially Monza and Shivers. At times I wanted to rip them out of the book sit them down and tell them to get over themselves, which is actually a good testament to how real these characters actually feel. As should be apparent already a number of characters from the aforementioned trilogy make an appearance but alas no Logen Ninefingers. We will have to wait for another volume to learn what his fate was and judging from this one (and the fact that Abercrombie recently announced another) there are bound to be many more.

In sum best served cold is part-caper part-dark comedy part-violent action adventure and all Abercrombie. I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the First Law Trilogy but that is by no means a disparagement I don’t enjoy most things as much as the First Law Trilogy anyway ;-). 8.25/10.

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