Best Served Cold has an exciting plot and it’s clever and funny — mostly in the droll, ironic, black humor sort of way. For example, Monza pulls Cosca out of alcoholism… so he can murder people. Some of the scenes in which Morveer was trying to poison somebody bordered on slapstick and provided some hilarity to balance the story’s grimness.
I enjoyed the plot, characters, and humor in Best Served Cold, and I recognize and admire Joe Abercrombie’s talent, creativity, and passion. But the truth is that his stories stress me out. It’s sort of like watching Schindler’s List. Brilliant movie, important message, but not something I want to watch before bedtime. There’s a lot of ugliness and vulgarity — much of which seems to be done for shock value (e.g., cannibalism and incest) — and there are more characters who are sociopaths than who are normal. If there’s a crude word for something, Abercrombie uses it. Characters are constantly pissing, spitting, growling, bleeding, feeling sticky, and sucking on their sour teeth. They don’t make love, they ... battle and torture scenes are the worst — they literally give me headaches.
All of this makes for interesting, original, dramatic fantasy, and I completely understand why it’s so appealing. After all, Joe Abercrombie at least makes me FEEL something. But what he makes me feel is rather depressed, hopeless, and just plain icky, and I can’t say that I really LIKE feeling that way.
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