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Best Served Cold (First Law World #4)

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  36,688 Ratings  ·  1,773 Reviews
Springtime in Styria. And that means war. Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge.

There have been nineteen years of blood. The ruthless Grand Duke Orso is locked in a vicious struggle with the squabbling League of Eight, and between them they have bled the land white. While armies march, heads roll and cities burn, behind the scenes bankers, priests and older, darker
Hardcover, 534 pages
Published June 5th 2009 by Gollancz
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Katherine I read Best Served Cold first and it totally works as a stand-alone. I mean, there were bits that made me want to read the trilogy for more depth but…moreI read Best Served Cold first and it totally works as a stand-alone. I mean, there were bits that made me want to read the trilogy for more depth but nowhere was I left confused for lack of reading the previous books.
I'm now making my way through the trilogy and having read this one first is lending me an interesting perspective. It didn't ruin anything for sure.(less)
Michael Moderate level, earthy sexual language but appropriate. The sex is quick, resentful, and angry, mirroring the emotional landscapes of the protagonist.
Prince of Thorns by Mark  LawrenceThe Blade Itself by Joe AbercrombieA Game of Thrones by George R.R. MartinKing of Thorns by Mark  LawrenceEmperor of Thorns by Mark  Lawrence
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A Game of Thrones by George R.R. MartinJ.R.R. Tolkien 4-Book Boxed Set by J.R.R. TolkienThe Name of the Wind by Patrick RothfussThe Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. LewisThe Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
I'm gonna have to do it. I'm going to give a Joe Abercrombie book a 3 star.

Calm down. I almost gave it a 2.

As to why? The good first.

The characters.
Monza is completely bad ass, but I never felt that connection with her. She wants revenge for her brothers death, I get that..but give me some anger..give me some emotions..give me something!

Her band of misfits, you have a drunk, a torturer, a master poisoner and his assistant (who eats constantly), a killer who has OCD, and a man from the North
mark monday
Jul 23, 2014 mark monday rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantastickal
What is best served hot?

> Flesh
> Blood
> Slaughter
> Desire
> Revenge*

*also delicious served cold

Best Served Cold delivers all of the above in a warm-blooded fashion. this is a sweaty, fully engorged adventure novel that follows a diverse cast as they move through various locales on their own sort of anti-quest. although it spends much time examining the psychological make-up of its characters, is heavily reliant on the kinds of details usually found in military fantasy, and is not s
Feb 05, 2013 Carol. rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of gritty fantasy
AKA "Abercrombie and the Ultimate Anti-Heroes."

Here's the short review: reading Best Served Cold is like being a guest judge on 'Iron Chef America: Sardines.' Sure, there's some incredible stuff happening--but still... it's sardines . And would you really want to eat like that every day?

The long review: What's good? The writing, the world, the character description, the brilliant way Abercrombie links and weaves so many plots together, both large and small, and the tension he is able to build
Sep 16, 2016 Tammy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'll be honest at the start, I felt this one was going to be straight forward. I felt I could predict everything that was gonna happen. I was wrong.

I doubt I have the words to explain how good the second half of this book was. Not to say the first half was bad, I mean the prologue was simply amazing. The tempo was like a ball rolling, slowly at first, then gathering momentum the farther it goes.

With tension packed moments, bloody and gritty action and exceptional world building. How many tim
Aug 26, 2010 Michael rated it it was ok
Filter the retro feel and the Tarantino dialogue from "Kill Bill Volume 1." Take what's left and mix in one random barbarian from Abercrombie's earlier trilogy, then pour into a pan with a good dollop of the late Middle Ages. Fry for 880 pages, dropping in one new badguy every 110. By the end of the process, it should look something like "The Unforgiven". . . It won't taste nearly as good, though.

I'm surprised about all the glowing reviews this book has gotten considering how little new ground t
May 27, 2014 Evgeny rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
In this standalone we visit the area which was only mentioned in the original trilogy: Styria. The favorite pastime of the local people is to make war; local nobility that is: the peasants suffer or get killed when an army marches through their land. Monza Murcatto was the leader of a very successful mercenary band under Duke Orso employ. In fact she was so popular among Duke's subjects that he decided it was time to do something about it.

During one of the meetings with the Duke her brother was
David Sven
They say cream rises to the top and I must say Abercrombie has risen to the top of my list of "must read" authors. And Steven Pacey has risen to the top to join my favourite audio narrators. If you are into audio books and have Abercrombie on your "to read" list, then treat yourself to the audio version. The narration really added that extra punch to an already hard hitting story.

Best Served Cold is a fantastic addition to The First Law universe. It’s stand-alone so you don't absolutely need to
Jul 06, 2009 Felicia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, man-fantasy
Well, one of my favorite authors does not disappoint, I totally love this guy! So much violence, grit I really enjoyed the characters, new worlds and especially liked the glimpses of seconday characters from the other Trilogy popping up in interesting more fleshed out roles.

Definitely a great purchase, boy readers rejoice, there's lots of blood and guts flying around!
6.0 stars. Another unbelievably good book by Joe Abercrombie. If you liked the First Law Series, you will like this. Given that the First Law series is on my list of "All Time Favorites" I think it is safe to assume, I loved this book. In addition to creating a superb story with a tight plot and, as always with his books, unforgettable characters, Abercrombie advances in subtle but very interesting ways the larger story arc of the "great battle" addressed in the First Law series. HIGHEST POSSIBL ...more
Dec 22, 2009 Justin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, own
Joe Abercrombie is a master of his trade, and his trade is dark fantasy. He is becoming the standard bearer for gritty realistic fantasy, and Best Served Cold might well be the masterpiece that represents that sub-genre. Monza Murcatto is a renowned and very successful mercenary, or was…till she was stabbed, beaten and thrown from a mountain side by her employer. Best Served Cold tells the tale of Monza and her quest for revenge. Monza contracts a party of unsavory characters to aid her in her r ...more
Sep 05, 2012 Gaby rated it liked it
I didn't jump right into reading ”Best Served Cold” after finishing the author's First Law trilogy, and now I can remember why. Reading Abercrombie simply leaves me emotionally drained. I very masochistically put myself through the experience because afterwards, once I've let myself cool down, I realize it was worth it. Still, these books are not for everyone. It's not just that they're violent, gory, unpredictable, and full of frustratingly flawed characters- it's that they leave you off (or at ...more
Apr 28, 2015 Carmen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fantasy fans who can stomach grisly, painful, brutal suffering that will spare no one
Monza is a skilled and merciless killer. She acts as a general in the Duke's army, alongside her little brother, Benna.

Monza's brother is the only person she has in this world. The only person she loves. The only person she trusts.

Duke Orso, the man she's working for, decides to betray her and her brother. Killing them in cold blood while his sons and advisors watch.

They stab her and beat her and throw her off the roof. She's left for dead.

As Jet Li would say, "That...was a mistake."

Not dead at
Jan 08, 2016 Kelly rated it it was amazing
One man's villain is another hero; after all

It goes without saying that this read was Epic. It's Abercrombie people. He can do no wrong.
Aug 26, 2016 Orient rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everybody with a need for rough-tough story
Recommended to Orient by: Milda Page Runner
Just starting to read this book I understood, oh how I missed Joe Abercrombie’s writing. It just feels like… ;)

*leaving Mr. Abercrombie half mutilated from hugs in my mind (It’s love, you know <3 True love hurts)*
Once more I was in love with Mr. Abercrombie and his dark fantasy revenge story.
Revenge, was served (cold of course) by a rough-tough heroine (already one of my BBHF – Best Book Heroines Forever ) with cold steel and a gripping story for dessert.
Monza Murcatto was everything I like
Dec 01, 2010 Peter rated it it was amazing
Joe Abercrombie is my new nemesis. His books are too damn good.
Christopher Buehlman
Aug 01, 2016 Christopher Buehlman rated it it was amazing
Verhoeven's "Flesh + Blood" meets "Hang 'em High" in the most entertaining fantasy novel since Game of Thrones. This is the fourth novel set in Joe Abercrombie's First Law world, but it isn't tied so closely to the preceding trilogy that one can't enjoy it as a stand-alone. Honestly, as good as that trilogy was, Best Served Cold eclipses it.

When I was a teenager I read about Italian mercenaries in the late Middle Ages and how they fought (or pretended to fight) for the gold of families like the
Sep 15, 2010 Hazel rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Abercrombie is excellent! I stumbled upon this at the library, and meant to leave it until next week, after I'd finished the books on my bedside table. But I took a peek at the first page, and was drawn in. Benna Murcatto Saves a Life was a near-perfect first chapter, and I couldn't resist. I should be sleeping, but I've just finished part 1, and I need to know what happens next...

Okay, no spoilers.
Fabulous beginning, got a bit saggy in the midddle (as you do), and then ran out of steam at the e
Bookworm Sean
Jan 09, 2016 Bookworm Sean rated it really liked it
Say one thing for Abercrombie: say he’s got catchy sayings; after-all you have to be realistic about these things!

I was about fifteen pages in and was thinking, “this book seems unusually slow,” when the blood started spraying in the usual Abercrombie style about half a paragraph later; I knew from then, that this was going to be a great read.

The Snake of Talins the self-made mercenary with no regret, Monzcarro Murcatto. At the height of her power she is betrayed by her employer and thought to
Oct 18, 2012 Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Story: 4/5
1: Being Vague, rambling plot with no little believable storyline
5: Ripping yarn, clever, thought provoking

Abercrombie once again comes up with a ripping yarn that keeps you completely immersed in the story from the strangely disturbing start to the almost expected ending.
I read this book after the First Law series, whilst it is easily classed as a stand alone in the story, some knowledge of the First Law series will give you a interesting back story to put certain aspects in perspe
Jul 30, 2015 Apatt rated it really liked it
It has been over a year since I last read a book by Joe Abercrombie, there are just so many books to get through. However, after finishing The First Law trilogy he has become like an “old favorite” that I can come back to any time and be sure of a good read. His writing style is always immensely readable, witticisms abound on every page, very visual scenes of combat and of course vivid, complex and believable characters.

Best Served Cold is set in the same universe as the excellent First Law tri
Nov 27, 2012 Hanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Hanne by: Fantasy Book Club Series
Shelves: fantasy, favourites

Vengeance... it's unpredictable, unplannable and never really satisfying. Especially when revenge becomes a race. I have 7 to go, and because of what i do, you now have 7 to go. They say revenge is best served cold, they say revenge is bittersweet. And hardly anything bittersweet is worth a damn when it's cold (except Gini and Schweppes Bitter Lemon perhaps).

This book is not bittersweet though. This book is fabulous. Well-constructed, remarkable character building, and not predictable at all. I
Althea Ann
Jul 30, 2015 Althea Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So far, I'm 5/5 with Joe Abercrombie - and I think I have 3 more yet to-read. This is Good Stuff!

Set in the same world as 'The Blade Itself,' 'Best Served Cold' introduces us to Monza Murcatto, a mercenary general. It's unusual for a woman to be a mercenary, let alone a military leader - and she's achieved her place by being twice as ruthless and tough as the hard-bitten men around her.

However, tough as she may be, she's not invulnerable. A shattering betrayal has ended with her dearly beloved b
Aug 11, 2014 Andy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-trl, fant-epic
3 Stars is all

And a middling three at that as we've a good start that jus well.... becomes very pedestrian & a plod of which I found myself skipreading some of the dialogue between certain characters, I mean.... murcatto & Shivers are no Logan 9 fingers & ferro are they now? Not even Bonnie & Clyde for that matter, or Morecombe & Wise neither.... in fact Im at a real struggle at when its all done & dusted as to what were they actually? Its almost like the author maybe get
Executive Summary: Overall I enjoyed this stand-alone novel more than the First Law books themselves, despite the lack of likable characters. It's Kill Bill meets Ocean's 11 in a medieval setting.

Audio book: I believe this is the first audio book I've listened to narrated by Michael Page. I think he does a pretty good job. He is clear and easy to understand. He does a variety of accents and voices. I would definitely listen to another book read by him.

Full Review
I enjoy Mr. Abercrombie's writi
Mar 29, 2016 Manju rated it really liked it
A stand alone novel set in the same world as his First Law Trilogy, Mr Abercrombie gives us another masterpiece to read.

this is a revenge story where Monza Murcatto set out to avenge her brother’s murder. So end is very much predictable and as simple as it gets. We get usual brutal characters with no conscience and loyalty who are driven by bloodlust. but its the characters themselves in the book that makes it so different from other revenge stories.

Abercrombie pays a great attention to his ch
Best Served Cold is a brutal tale of revenge. Monzcarro Murcatto was betrayed by Duke Orso. He murdered her brother and attempted to kill her but failed. Now she's out for vengeance. There a lot to love about this book. The characters are deep. The world is expansive. The writing is detailed without becoming tedious. Most importantly, the story entertaining.

Stories live and die by their characters. Monza is a unlike any other character that I've come across before. She is flawed, gritty, scarred
Alex Ristea
This is easily Joe Abercrombie's best book, and already my top read of 2013. Perhaps even of the last few years.

The author has a certain love for broken things, and crafted some of the most memorable characters in Best Served Cold. They each have their unique voice, needs, fears, and quirks. The plot serves them, and not the other way around.

On top of all this, this may be some of the cleverest writing I've read. Not just the witty dialogue, but even within the prose itself. Abercrombie has a fi
Rick Riordan
Nov 08, 2013 Rick Riordan rated it it was amazing
I loved Abercrombie's The First Law trilogy, set in a richly realized fantasy world with a great cast of characters. I'm usually hesitant to read standalone fantasies like Best Served Cold. I prefer series so I can get to know the characters over a longer time, but I was eager to revisit Abercrombie's world so I picked up Best Served Cold, and I'm glad I did. When mercenary general Monza Murcatto is brutally betrayed by her employer, she decides to take revenge against all odds, regardless of th ...more
Aug 17, 2009 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-it, favorites
My man-crush for Mr. Abercrombie just grew ten-fold. Best Served Cold was such a fun ride that I was sad to turn the last page.

This is a book about vengeance, revenge, and what some people will do to achieve it. But I think it was the characters that really made it. Each one of them was a truly untrustworthy person willing to stab their best friend in the back in a heartbeat.

Throw five of them together and what do you get?

Well, alot of death for one. Plus tons of drama and violence.

I'd suggest
Oct 05, 2013 Igor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, audible
At first I miss Glokta and Bloody-Nine and theirs point of view but soon enough that feeling was gone and I welcomed Monzcarro Murcatto, The Serpent of Talins. Oh, what a grand trip this book was and true to its predecessors held every bit of what we liked in them. I highly recommend this book and looking forward to read next two.
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Joe Abercrombie was educated at Lancaster Royal Grammar School and Manchester University, where he studied psychology. He moved into television production before taking up a career as a freelance film editor. During a break between jobs he began writing The Blade Itself in 2002, completing it in 2004. It was published by Gollancz in 2006 and was followed by two other books in The First Law Trilogy ...more
More about Joe Abercrombie...

Other Books in the Series

First Law World (7 books)
  • The Blade Itself (The First Law #1)
  • Before They Are Hanged (The First Law #2)
  • Last Argument of Kings (The First Law #3)
  • The Heroes (First Law World, #5)
  • Red Country (First Law World, #6)
  • Sharp Ends (First Law World, #7)

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“You were a hero round these parts. That's what they call you when you kill so many people the word murderer falls short.” 165 likes
“You should laugh every moment you live, for you'll find it decidedly difficult afterwards.” 144 likes
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