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  1. #1
    Registered User Werthead's Avatar
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    Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

    To the east of Midderland and the Union lies the land of Styria, a feuding patchwork of city-states consumed by the 'Years of Blood'. Duke Orso of Talins has spent years expanding his power across the land, and city after city has fallen into his grasp thanks to his strong right arm, the mercenary army known as the Thousand Swords, led by Monza Murcatto and her brother, Benna. Their victories have made them famous and popular in Talins, perhaps a shade too popular. A brutal and bloody betrayal takes place, but the job is not completed and Monza is left - barely - alive.

    A shadow of her former self, Monza is consumed by the need for vengeance but she cannot kill seven of the most powerful men in Styria by herself. She needs allies, and finds them in a prideful poisoner, a thug obsessed with numbers and a barbarian from the North who just wants to do the right thing. Seven men they have to kill in six cities, and murder, mayhem and war lie before them.

    Best Served Cold has been billed as the stand-alone follow-up to The First Law Trilogy, but that isn't entirely accurate. Whilst this novel can certainly be read with no foreknowledge of the series, it does pick up on some dangling plot threads from the trilogy and also lays a lot of pipe for future books. In fact, it feels a little bit more akin to reading Steven Erikson's Deadhouse Gates compared to Gardens of the Moon: a new land, a new and mostly self-contained storyline (although referenced in the prior work and setting up some things for later) and some new protagonists whilst at the same time remembering to include some of the characters from the first work (I counted at least five characters from the trilogy as reasonably major characters in the book, with several more cameos and a few mentions of others). The result is a book that satisfies as both its own work and a thread in a much larger tapestry.

    Best Served Cold is also one of the most morally ambiguous books I've ever read. Seriously, not a single person in the whole story comes off as in the right or in the wrong. The protagonists (the word 'hero' cannot be applied to a single person in the whole story) are often as dislikable and sometimes far more ruthless than the 'villains' whom they are trying to kill. They have their reasons and motivations which are pretty convincing, but none of them are nice people. The fact that Abercrombie still engages the readers fully with this tale of bloody mayhem and makes them care about what is going on is impressive.

    The story is gripping and compulsive, the humour is blacker than midnight, the prose is a notable step up from the already-enjoyable First Law Trilogy (although the gloriously terrible sex scenes remain intact) and the characters massively conflicted. There are more enormous battles and some even bigger, eye-raising twists than those from the end of the prior trilogy (although nicely set up along the way). The only minor niggle I had was with the "Ha! I poisoned you, but no, I'm just kidding...or am I?" plot device, which has now gone way beyond cliche. It is a very minor element, however, that does not spoil overall enjoyment of the book.

    Best Served Cold (*****) is not for everyone, but if you like your books gritty, dark, funny and violent, than I can recommend this book without hesitation. Between this and Retribution Falls, it's shaping up to be an amazing year for genre fans.

    Best Served Cold will be published on 18 June 2009 in the UK from Gollancz and on 29 July in the USA from Orbit US.
    Yeah, it got the five. It was that good, despite the dubious poisoning stuff and the very dodgy sex.

    The most impressive things about this book were both the stepping up of the quality of the prose (which was pretty good in the trilogy, but edges up a notch here) and the exploration of this theme of revenge at any cost, which is done very well and in some depth.

  2. #2
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    You've sold me, Wert. I'll pick this one up when it hits our shelves over here.

  3. #3
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    Wert, you are at the same time awesome for posting the review and a jerk for teasing me with 3 months till the release! lol

    Looks good. Thanks for the review this one is a must buy.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the review I cannot wait to get my hands on this one.
    Being that one of my favorite movies is The Count of Monte Cristo
    and I loved the First Law as one of my favorites of all time .. I have a feeling this one is a slam dunk for my personality
    I love revenge.

  5. #5
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    Arggghhhh 3 months away....... This is one of the books that might become my "read of the year".....

  6. #6
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    on Ebay for $36.00 and an extra $40.00 in shipping and still going up.
    I am tempted but I may be assassinated in my sleep if im caught with it.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by burnsai View Post
    on Ebay for $36.00 and an extra $40.00 in shipping and still going up.
    I am tempted but I may be assassinated in my sleep if im caught with it.
    Come on, no regular paper book about to be published is worth that much money. Exercise your patience, and you'll be rewarded soon.

  8. #8
    I always buy try to buy new books for a number of reasons

    1) The money goes to the author not someone else. Supporting authors means that they can afford to spend more time writing. If 1,000,000 readers read the same book and pass it around, the author has only sold 1 copy.

    2) Even if the author isn't getting paid outside of their advance yet, their sales numbers will be better and its more likely they will be published again.

    3) Books have one of the best ratio of entertainment duration to price except maybe Netflix if you use it enough or an extremely replayable video game (excluding Multiplayer which demands subscription/Internet access)

    4) I get a shiny new version of the book. I'm a shameless bibliophile.

  9. #9
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    I know Joe reads this forum sometimes and he has allowed some people to have copies early with his magic die roll. I would love to read it before its release and I have bought all my current copies from the bookstore.
    I cannot afford to buy the one off of ebay and im currently reading GRRM for the first time and I enjoy it. I just bought the name of the wind which got great reviews on here as well. If I did buy the signed one off of Ebay I would have read it carefully and bought the hard copy anyways from the bookstore or a readers copy for my bookshelf.
    Joe has a fan for life here and I have told everyone of my friends to go buy his First Law trilogy. Im all for Joe making enough Gold so he can just fire away book after book believe me.

  10. #10
    I want to be a princess sic's mom's Avatar
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    Ok, I just made the huge mistake of reading the first chapter on Mr. Abercrombie's website. July will not get here fast enough for me. Looks like this is going to be another winner. Keep telling myself patience is a virtue.

  11. #11
    Looking forward to it after a rather disappointing conclusion to his first trilogy. BTW, do we know if the "barbarian from the North" is
    Spoiler:
    the Bloody Nine
    ?

  12. #12
    weightless astronaut
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    No, but he is in the first law trilogy...

    Don't know how to do spoilers, so I won't risk posting it.

  13. #13
    Registered User Werthead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Decado View Post
    Looking forward to it after a rather disappointing conclusion to his first trilogy. BTW, do we know if the "barbarian from the North" is
    Spoiler:
    the Bloody Nine
    ?
    No:

    Spoiler:
    It's Shivers, the guy whose brother Logen killed and Logen spent most of LAoK wondering if he was going to backstab him, but he never did.

  14. #14
    Lord of the Wild Hunt Mithfânion's Avatar
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    I'm insanely looking forward to the book after Best Served Cold, set in the grim North. I know, Best Served Cold comes out 1st and I know I will enjoy that a great deal as well. I just really like Joe's northern characters.

  15. #15
    weightless astronaut
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    http://www.joeabercrombie.com/2009/0...ting-news.html

    'Fantasy book arrives early' shocker!

    Congrats to Joe for some much deserved extra publicity.

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