Title: Best Served Cold
Author: Joe Abercrombie
Genre: Fantasy, Grimdark fantasy
Goodreads Rating: 4.21
“A wise man once told me you have to be realistic.”
What comes after revenge? Monza is the feared leader of a mercenary crew. She has a powerful employer, money, fame, and the love of her life. Everything appears to be in order. That is… until her lover is murdered, she is betrayed, and is subsequently thrown out of a castle down a mountain and left for dead. Against all odds and with the help of a nameless healer, Monza manages to survive. But at what cost? Despite a scarcely healed and mangled body, she is determined to exact revenge on her lover’s killers. With a laundry list of names and a hefty task ahead of her, will her murderous resolve be enough to ensure her success? Or will revenge prove to be fruitless?
Balance of grimdark and humor
One of the things I love about Lord Grimdark is that he balances gruesome violence with sarcastic, dry humor. I found myself equally laughing and cringing throughout Best Served Cold. Cosca and Morveer were two of my favorite characters and helped to add some levity.
Light magic system
Throughout the book, you get brief moments with The First Law’s magic system through the involvement of two secondary characters. Abercrombie doesn’t give much of an explanation as to what’s going on and it is clearly meant to be a smaller portion of this story. But it is a fascinating addition and will pique your curiosity.
Abercrombie is a master at the element of surprise. Without fail, there will be something in each book that catches me off guard and I love every minute of it. When Abercrombie finally revealed Monza’s healer… I was shocked!
No magic explanation
As I mentioned earlier, Abercrombie gives little detail about the magic system. If this is the first book you read by this author, you simply know that two characters have special abilities. This can be infuriating because you are exposed to their powers but don’t have much context as to what exactly is going on with them.
Character attachment vs. First Law
In Best Served Cold, a few characters from The First Law trilogy are mentioned throughout the story. You’ll even get occasional scenes with Jezal dan Luthar. I found myself eagerly awaiting moments where Glokta or Logan were mentioned. For me, it became obvious that I was noticeably more attached to The First Law trilogy characters than any of the characters in Best Served Cold.
Things to consider:
I highly suggest reading The First Law trilogy before reading Best Served Cold. You’ll have a better understanding of the magic system and the character references.
I’m glad I read Best Served Cold… but it isn’t as good as The First Law trilogy. This story was an entertaining read full of action, subterfuge, and betrayal. With that being said, Abercrombie does it better in the trilogy.