Review - Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Vengeance first, questions later.

A terrific, action packed romp with a vengeance.

This book is all about revenge. It follows Monza as she is betrayed very badly and then plots her course to get revenge on all those present at the time of the betrayal.

Set in the same world as the great First Law trilogy, the back drop is the region of Styria.

Springtime in Styria. And that means war. Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge.

It deals with revenge, what it means and what it feels like when you actually achieve it through a range of very human and likeable characters.


What makes Abercrombie stand out in today’s jam packed fantasy scene, is his ability to write fantastic characters. He creates such vivid, human and intriguing people in his books, he is second to none in this regard, in my opinion.

There are some familiar faces from the Blade Itself world and some new characters as well. My two favourites had to be Friendly, a math obsessed ex-con and Cosca, well known turncoat and flamboyant mercenary. The two form a bit of an unlikely bromance as well.

More important than simply creating great characters in his works, Abercrombie also has a nack for building on their individual stories throughout, making sure the characters change and learn things (or not sometimes). Each character has their own arc well though through and executed brilliantly.


Abercrombie’s writing is crisp and moves the story along nicely. There were times where I felt he went into too much detail but this doesn’t happen all that often. The action scenes really stood out for me in this. They were fantastic, suspenseful in places and had me on the edge on my seat (well, couch for the most part).

The witty banter, particularly from Cosca was hilarious.

Here’s some of my favourite bits. All in all the writing is very witty, human and jam packed full of quotable sayings:

‘One cannot grow without pain. One cannot improve without it. Suffering drives us to achieve great things.’

‘The dead can forgive. The dead can be forgiven. The rest of us have better things to do.’

‘People talk a lot when they’ve nothing to say.’

‘That’s the one. I’m an optimist.’ ‘How’s it working out for you?’ ‘Not great, but I keep hoping.’ ‘That’s optimists. You bastards never learn.’

‘You are a gentleman, sir,’ muttered Cosca. ‘I am a murderer.’ ‘I see no reason why a man cannot be both . . .’

He dipped in his wooden spoon and took a taste, and it was good. He rated it forty-one out of fifty.

death so close she could feel it tickling at her neck.

‘My name is Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune and I am here for dinner.’

To the starving man, bread is beautiful. To the homeless man, a roof is beautiful. To the drunkard, wine is beautiful. Only those who want for nothing else need find beauty in a lump of rock.

Words may hold more power than swords, as Juvens said, but I have discovered to my cost that there are times when there is no substitute for pointy metal.’

You make yourself too hard, you make yourself brittle too. Crack once, crack all to pieces.

Blades can kill men, but only words can move them.

Final thought

Anyone with an aversion to swearing, vulgarities and lots of gore should look elsewhere. For those who don’t mind a gruesome, gritty tale, you should read this. It was enjoyable being back in the same world as the First Law trilogy, one of the best series in all of fantasy. Best Served Cold wasn’t as good as First Law, but it was still a hugely enjoyable tale.

It also had some of the most awkward, funniest sex scenes I’ve ever read, they were hilarious!




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