Culture Magazine

Book Review – Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

By Manofyesterday


Monza Murcatto is a deadly soldier with many kills to her name. But when her employer gets wind of a plot to overthrow him, he enlists the aid of six men to kill her and her brother, Benna. But Monza doesn’t die and she in turn forms a band of cutthroats to gain vengeance.

The cover is cool, right? And while the plot isn’t original I do tend to like revenge stories as they usually have a lot of action and some melodrama in them as well. And the universe in which it is set is kind of Game of Thrones-ish quasi-medieval thing, which again is interesting and when I started reading it I really enjoyed it. It’s written well and each chapter is kinda sorta told from the viewpoint of different characters. It’s not told from a first-person perspective though but the author does alter his writing style in a subtle manner for each character.

The action is frenetic and evocative and the plot unfolds in a way that makes the story much less about revenge and more about the changing landscape of politics. There are also flashbacks as well that provide some insight into Benna, which make him more of a fleshed out character than just a plot device to get the story rolling. There are some memorable characters as well, like Morveer the poisoner.  And, like in Game of Thrones this world is dirty and grimy. People get stabbed in the back, the sex is fast and hard, and the people are rough without much hope or humor.

And yet for all the good in the book I found my interest waning around the halfway mark. The novel is almost 700 pages and while I’m not averse to longer books this feels like it is longer than it should be, and I just couldn’t remained interested. I tried, I really did, but for such a simple plot as revenge it just kept going and going and all I wanted was for it to end. The other problem is that I found the supporting characters much more interesting than Monza, so as the book continued I found myself not really caring about the main plot but that’s probably because most of the time spent with her becomes repetitive.

Now, I hadn’t read any of the First Law trilogy, and Best Served Cold is set in that universe so I can’t speak to any crossovers there. But reading this book just became an exercise in monotony and it didn’t have the legs to keep me entertained. That being said, I think some people are going to really like this it’s just not for me.

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