Springtime in Styria. And that means war. 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 powers play a deadly game to choose who will be king. War may be hell but for Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, the most feared and famous mercenary in Duke Orso's employ, it's a damn good way of making money too. Her victories have made her popular - a shade too popular for her employer's taste.
Betrayed, thrown down a mountain and left for dead, Murcatto's reward is a broken body and a burning hunger for vengeance. Whatever the cost, seven men must die.
©2010 Joe Abercrombie (P)2010 Orion Publishing Group Limited
I listened to this book following the First Law series which I found very enjoyable.
Unfortunately this particular book is pretty much a straight out, almost boring tale, with only a twist at the end to keep it from being rated even lower.
Abercrombie has excellent character development, but I feel that the characters are a little too disfunctional in an almost "American sitcom disfunctional family" style.
One particular failing that I found annoying was the eventual predictable situation of knowing something was going to go disasterously wrong when detailed and meticulously laid plans were set in motion.
All in all it felt like the characters and story had moved from the sublime to the ridiculous.
There aren't really any surprises here, no multi threaded grand design all coming together at the end. The characters are all so extremely flawed and hateable to point you feel nothing for them, which doesn't give the listener much to identify and feel with through the course of the book.
Excellent narration rescues a rather forgettable storyline.
Audible is the balm for an itch I can't scratch that sits right between my ears.
A great new cast of characters along with some familiar names. Things kick off right from the start and keep pace righ to the end. Great characters, well developed and in Abercrombies style often put to beffitting or undeserved ends.
Once again Steven Pacey puts in a flawless performance, every character unique and he hits every whispered, whimppered, croaked, shouted and stranggled line without fail.
Steven Pacey is an outstanding narrator who gives life to Abercrombie's colourful characters. Its a dark tale of revenge with many excellent Abercombie twists. Things often don't go the way you might expect.
Favourite character the swashbuckling Koska who always sees the humorous side. Another well crafted, intriguing but despicable character is the Poisoner Morvia. All of the characters are flawed but it makes them all the more interesting.
I listened to the "First Law" prior to this and enjoyed it. "Best Served Cold" is also excellent.
All of them. Shame this version wasn't available first. Steven Pacey narrates so significantly better than Michael Page it ain't even funny.
Found this book a bit too gruesome for myself. The underlying story is quite interesting for the more hardened listeners.
I need some C8H10N4O2
I believe that this audio production is the best way to enjoy
Joe Abercrombie has a wonderful talent for creating the best characters
Yes to Joe by defiantly not to Michael Page.
The narrator, shocking.
Michael Page sound like he is reading Shakespeare.
Another triumph by the best current writer of epic fantasy. From the first page Joe Abercrombie's Best Served Cold is a deliciously sordid tale of revenge, murder, cowardice, triumph and trial.
The narrative is pacey and very well constructed. The scenes each build upon each other as the book progresses. The book is also on funny. There are many moments when you can't help but laugh (and then feel guilty for laughing).
The main characters are each triumphant yet flawed; dogged yet weak; hateful yet at the same time likeable. Although none of the characters are typically heroic, you can't help but sympathise with them, notwithstanding how despicable they can be.
Michael Page is excellent.
One of my top 10 audiobooks of the last 12 months. The book caused me to laugh, sympathise, despise the violence, root for the under dog, hate the hero whilst at the same time willing her to victory...a simply delicious book.
This book was originally sold with a change of narrator from the First Law books however the publisher has taken note and re-recorded this title and the following book with Steven Pacey. If you bought this with the other narrator you can re-download the title and it will be the new version with Steven Pacey. Excellant news given his brilliant performance.
"Excellent follow-on from the first law trilogy"
Joe Abercombie just keeps getting better and better.
Story – 5/5
Joe Abercrombie has managed to get all of the elements of this novel perfect. His character development and sharp whit is still definitely his strongest point, but this time the story has a very fast pace, for those readers who complained about the story progression in ‘The Blade Itself'
As the title suggests, it is a revenge plot story. But there isn’t only the main story arc, there are also a few smaller intertwined stories of revenge throughout, and it is done extremely smoothly. What I especially loved about this novel was how he took a couple of the minor characters from his first law trilogy that we weren’t too bothered about, and developed them into very likeable and interesting characters. This is a standalone novel though, so don’t be put off if you haven’t read the preceding books.
Another thing I love about Joe Abercrombie’s novels, is how he spends about 1 hour after the “big ending” to set a picture of how the story will continue. This not only gives a better impression of an epic world, of which this is a small story within, but it also prolongs the enjoyment of the story by making the reader think about it after finishing.
Performance – 5/5
Steven Pacey is one of the best narrators out there. His character acting was flawless, each having a distinctive and believable voice. His narration enhanced the dark comedy and whit of Joe Abercrombie’s writing, and I felt myself absorbed into the action scenes/battles.
Music/sound effects between scenes/chapters was a nice touch as well, although it would have been nicer to not re-use previous sound effects.
Overall – 5/5
"Low down dirty double crossing ..."
Steven Pacey! Steven Pacey! Steven Pacey!
I really enjoyed this, even more than the First Law Trilogy. The book has a great depth of characters, and the narrator brings these to life wonderfully. It's a great combination of a well written book and first class narration.
I recently reviewed The Painted Man (different author) and I wasn't kind to it, because I had no empathy for the characters and ultimately didn’t care what happened to them. In this book most of the characters are low down dirty double crossing villains, but you can't help enjoy them. The reason you warm to them is they aren't just plain bad, they have some depth to them and complexity. Joe Abercrombie has a wonderful way of building a story and getting you to care for the type character that most other authors would have cast as the villain. His world isn't black and white, there are people who just seem to get drawn into bad things … as well as those who just relish it.
The references to the First Law Trilogy were excellent and some of the characters from that appear and get expanded upon. A word of warning though - prepared for dark deeds, dark humour and a couple of occasions where you feel like you might lose your lunch.
I loved the First Law series, and I think of this as a straight continuation into The Heroes. Steven Pacey's visceral reading brings this brilliant, fresh fantasy book to life with vivid sardonic character, and the book itself has a satisfying pace with lots of notches on the narrative axe. Because it is a complete story within one book I liked this the best of all the Joe Abercrombie series, but it is certainly richer reading them all in order, starting with The Blade Itself. It's satisfying to see minor characters from one book developed in later volumes, and it seems to me that this is a hallmark of Joe Abercrombie's writing - a mastery of point of view. I consider these books a real milestone in fantasy literature, and dare I say it, a bit better than Game of Thrones?
Logan, he is complex and although fighting his demons as "The Bloody Nine" is trying to do the right thing.
His tone and accents paint the characters and story line to allow you engulf yourself inthe book.
"Abercrombie + Pacey = Win!"
Yes. Performance by Pacey is amazing, he does justice to the gritty dialogue
Relationship between drug addled monza and shivers
Other narrators should study Pacey. Have listened to several audiobooks before and never heard any other performance even come close to the same quality. He is consistent with the voices but he goes beyond that and builds a character and speech mannerisms.
...and thanks to Paul of West Sussex for pointing out the change of narrator. Steven Pacey's readings of the "First Law" series were probably the most enjoyable audiobooks I have come across, and although I was enjoying this title, it inevitably suffered in comparison. Now, having eagerly downloaded the new Pacey version, I may well start again from the beginning! I wouldn't normally give 5 stars to something I haven't actually heard, but having listend to half the old version and all of "First Law", Pacey would have to be having a very off day for it not to deserve them.
"Well worth the listen if you don't mind the blood!"
An epic story. Bloodthirsty and lots of graphic detail (not lunchtime reading!!) A good plot and well worth the effort. I liked it.
"Not a heartwarming tale..."
Along with, Half a King, this is the only other exception, where I have merely purchased the audio book version only. I think these are the weakest novels within Abercrombie's collection and as such... I wouldn't want them clogging up my shelves. Saying that... Best Served Cold, is still a ripping yarn, when judged against the other multitude of fantasy fluff soiling the literary pool.
Murcatto has got to be one of the most dislikable leads in any book... As such, every other character, need only be slightly redeemable, in order to become a fan favourite for. Best Served Cold. Vitari, Morveer and Shenkt were among those individuals I wanted to hear more about. Cosca is a bore, but as he's an old soak, I can't help but think that Abercrombie (like me), has had to endlessly endure the verbal diarrhoea of drunks and this has left its scars. I may dislike the drawn out, amoral waffling, but it seems like the character is made more authentic by such tools.
There were so many characters I disliked in this book, that it's testament to the writers ability and the accuracy he employs when portraying the negatives of his cast, that a reader can still look past their own tastes and wade through the chapters.
Saying that... Part of me prayed (for the majority of the book) that justice might be suitably meted out to Murcatto (someone we should feel sorry for, but don't). Spoiler alert... I was left disappointed.
A myriad of voices and a sense of timing, that my imagination wouldn't naturally adopt.
It made me grind my teeth. I hate violence towards women, but by the end, I never wished harder for a heroine to die.
Considering the rest of his work, Abercrombie is generally a safe bet on ripping yarns rich with casts of three dimensional characters.
The First Law Trilogy was such an amazing debut (setting such a ludicrously high bar), I now tend to unfairly judge all the other novels he pumps out against the strength of that initial foray. This book may be his weakest alongside the laughably bad, Half a King. but unlike that steaming chod, this is still an Abercrombie novel.
Worth a listen, if not a read.
"Excellent characters and believable fantasy world"
I will definitely listen to this again. Mainly to see if I can find hints that pre-figure the many plot-twists.
This story is incredibly well-crafted. Although it is based in a world described in a previous trilogy, I didn't feel like I was missing anything by not having read the previous books.
I chose this book because I was looking for a fantasy story with a strong female lead and Monza Murcatto does not disappoint. She, like all the characters in this book, is best defined by her flaws. None of the characters come out of this story in a purely good light, not even Monza's "martyred" brother, who is the main impetus for the story.
This story also keeps hitting one with plot-twist after plot-twist, so you're never certain that you know what's coming, which is very refreshing. However, all of those twists are in-keeping with the characterisation, so you never feel like its simply a plot device.
This book makes you care about the characters, even though most of them are what would normally be classed as 'evil'. I did find myself disappointed when one of Monza's gang of criminals dies and the possibility of a romance between them is killed.
If you're considering reading the trilogy but are unsure if Abercrombie's world will interest you, I would really recommend Best Served Cold as you get to see a lot of the world and the various cultures that exist.
It is also a brilliant story for anyone interested in late-medieval/early modern politics as I am.
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