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Best Served Cold (First Law World #1)

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  24,918 ratings  ·  1,343 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
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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)
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The Grimdarks
10th out of 159 books — 470 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Shelby *wants some 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
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mark monday
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
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Carol.
Feb 05, 2013 Carol. rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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Michael
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
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Evgeny
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
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Rabindranauth
When the Grand Duke of Orso decided to betray Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, he should have made sure she was six feet deep at the end of it. Mistakes like those have fatal consqeuences.

The Snake of Talins is one of the most fearsome mercenaries in Styria, and the people love her for it.

“You were a hero round these parts. That's what they call you when you kill so many people the word murderer falls short.”

They love her too much, by the Grand Duke's estimation. Fearing a coup, he decides
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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
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Gaby
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
Justin
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
Stephen
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
Felicia
Well, one of my favorite authors does not disappoint, I totally love this guy! So much violence, grit and...fun. 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!
Hazel
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
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Carmen
Apr 28, 2015 Carmen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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Lee
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
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Rob
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
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Hanne
Nov 27, 2012 Hanne rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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Peter
Joe Abercrombie is my new nemesis. His books are too damn good.
Dara
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
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Bookworm Sean
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
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Andy
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
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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
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Mogsy (MMOGC)
3.5 stars. I liked it! But I'm rounding down however to show that I didn't like it as much as The First Law trilogy. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I think I knew that right away. First of all, I dove in knowing it was going to be tale of revenge, given the title and all, but I realized not long after I started the book that the story itself wasn't going to go that much farther beyond that concept.

That said, it did give the book a clear direction. I may have enjoyed the story more in The Firs
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Matt
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
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Traci
Almost a perfect five. In fact I thought it would be half way through and then it changed directions. Still enjoyable but not as much in my opinion. It is an improvement in every way compared to The First Law trilogy. And I loved the characters. I'm a fan of The Dirty Dozen types of stories, or like Mass Effect 2 for a newer reference, or even Inception. And to me that was the fun part of the book. Reading Monza building her team and how the plan fit all of them together. They all had their quir ...more
Ryon
Jul 31, 2009 Ryon rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone with a pulse and good taste
Recommended to Ryon by: Felicia Day
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
The next Joe Abercrombie book cannot come out soon enough.

WARNING: Avoid this book if:
* You love stories about/with hairy-footed halflings, flaxen-haired elves with bows of fine yew and skin like alabaster, heroic honorable flawless knights and helpless, swooning damsels, whedonesque doe-eyed skinny-fat vulnerably feminine and yet somehow still kick-ass female characters, stout bearded drunken dwarves, 'ye ole englishe', flowery dialogue delivered with a straight face written by an author who st
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Igor
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.
Steve
2.5 stars.

Like many others, I picked up this book because I enjoyed (really enjoyed!) the First Law trilogy. While this book isn't bad, it is extremely disappointing compared to the trilogy.

The good:
1) Several characters from the trilogy show up in this book, playing roles of various importance. Someone picking up this book with no other experience with Mr. Abercrombie's work could follow along just fine, but for those who read the trilogy, there's some joy at recognizing the old faces (and a fe
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Apatt
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
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Oscar
’La mejor venganza’ transcurre en el mismo mundo que La Primera Ley. Han pasado varios años desde los hechos acaecidos en el último libro de la mencionada trilogía, aunque es una novela independiente. La protagonista es la mercenaria Monza Murcatto, que tras una cruel traición, sólo le queda un camino: la venganza a cualquier precio. Para realizar el trabajo contrata a varios mercenarios inadaptados, cada uno con sus propias habilidades y manías, y tan traicioneros como puedan serlo los mercenar ...more
Duffy Pratt
OK, this book is dark, and I guess very dark for fantasy. But compared to James Ellroy, for example? Maybe not so much. Yes, basically the characters range from being shits, to being total shits. But I sort of liked that. It's a book about an ex-mercenary and the group of murderers she gathers to get revenge for a pretty horrendous wrong done to her by her ex-employer. There's no innocent farmboy who stumbles into a magical artifact, which leads him onto a noble quest where he discovers both his ...more
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La Stamberga dei ...: Il sapore della vendetta di Joe Abercrombie 1 5 May 11, 2014 12:32PM  
Beyond Reality: BEST SERVED COLD: Finished Reading: **SPOILERS LIKELY** 6 54 Oct 30, 2013 03:45PM  
Beyond Reality: BEST SERVED COLD: Roll Call and Initial Impressions 17 49 Oct 12, 2013 08:48AM  
Monza and Benna? 6 245 Feb 09, 2013 11:48AM  
Fantasy Book Club...: * Best Served Cold VII- Talins--Final 20 128 Jan 14, 2013 11:53AM  
Fantasy Book Club...: * Best Served Cold VI-Ospria 10 52 Jan 10, 2013 12:03PM  
Fantasy Book Club...: * Best Served Cold IV-Visserine 13 39 Jan 06, 2013 12:46PM  
  • The Judging Eye (Aspect-Emperor, #1)
  • A Betrayal in Winter (Long Price Quartet, #2)
  • Midnight Tides (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #5)
  • Chronicles of the Black Company (The Chronicles of the Black Company, #1-3)
  • Stonewielder (Malazan Empire, #3)
  • The Cold Commands (A Land Fit for Heroes, #2)
  • Red Seas Under Red Skies (Gentleman Bastard, #2)
  • The Folding Knife
  • Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery
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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 (4 books)
  • The Heroes
  • Red Country
  • The Great Leveller: Best Served Cold, The Heroes and Red Country, together in one omnibus volume
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 Red Country

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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.” 127 likes
“You should laugh every moment you live, for you'll find it decidedly difficult afterwards.” 96 likes
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