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Publisher's Summary

Springtime in Styria. And that means war.

There have been 19 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, and 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.

Her allies include Styria's least reliable drunkard, Styria's most treacherous poisoner, a mass-murderer obsessed with numbers, and a Northman who just wants to do the right thing. Her enemies number the better half of the nation. And that's all before the most dangerous man in the world is dispatched to hunt her down and finish the job Duke Orso started....

Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge.

First Law Trilogy

The Blade Itself

Before They Are Hanged

Last Argument of Kings

Novels in the First Law World

Best Served Cold

The Heroes

Red Country

©2015 Joe Abercrombie (P)2015 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"The battles are vivid and visceral, the action brutal, the pace headlong, and Abercrombie piles the betrayals, reversals, and plot twists one atop another to keep us guessing how it will all come out. This is his best book yet." (George R. R. Martin)
"Joe Abercrombie takes the grand tradition of high fantasy literature and drags it down into the gutter, in the best possible way. Monza is a beautiful mercenary who has sworn to kill the seven men who tried to kill her. No elves, no wands - just lots of down-and-dirty swordplay." ( Time)
"Abercrombie is both fiendishly inventive and solidly convincing, especially when sprinkling his appallingly vivid combat scenes with humor so dark that it's almost ultraviolet." ( Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Best Served Cold

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

as good as the main trilogy

had to wait a long time for it to be narrated by setieven pacey, it was worth the wait. not a single touch less compelling than the first law trilogy and to hear it from the same talented narrator made it as if i was just continuing the same story rather than reading a stand alone book.

38 people found this helpful

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Better than the first 3 books by far.

If you could sum up Best Served Cold in three words, what would they be?

I enjoyed the First Law trilogy. Pacey's a great narrator, better than most, and I loved Glokta. I bought Best Served Cold thinking I would get more of the same, but instead I got a much darker story with better characters and dialogue. I loved this listen!

28 people found this helpful

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My Favorite Book!

I found this title on a forum that listed books with strong and interesting female characters, and I can honestly say I was not prepared for what I stumbled into.This book is a stand alone work that precedes a trilogy set in the same world. I did not know this and went ahead with it first, which is honestly fine, but now looking back having read all of them, you might get more out of it having read the trilogy.Even without context this book completely blew me away, it was gritty, funny, and on an emotional level completely unique. The narration shifts frequently and each voice is so clearly driven by their own fully realized psychology,traumas, goals,hopes and fears.This inner monolog allows us to feel the characters develop outside of merely observing their actions and it really pulls you in. Take the leap, you wont regret it.

17 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Harsh

4* writing in a 2* plot with at least a 3* fantasy world. I almost quit the book 3/4 of the way through. It is just that harsh without positive plot elements for balance. I stuck it out and I am glad I did. I will listen to the next book.
Semi spoilers:
In Wizards First Rule the cruelty is massive but there is a righteousness that carries it through; not here.
In White Gold Wielder there is grand wonder as you travel through the tale; not here.
Game of Thrones has you constantly hoping for a positive outcome here and there and this book has a bit of that, but like Martin, Ambercrombie pretty much pummels it out of you.
Unlike Meiville and that sort of dark fantasy, you won't find yourself wondering what is going on.
Like the Powder Mage series and many others, you will find yourself in a world that is both familiar and fresh at the same time.
The narration is good and has amazing moments.

16 people found this helpful

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Not everyone in life is likable.

*WARNING - This will be a lengthy read consisting of my opinion on this book, and it's other reviews*

Before I really get into this review, I want to address the other reviews and complaints I've read. I'm doing this because I feel like the other people here who are reading these reviews may be swayed, and I don't want them to miss out on one of the best books ever written because people just don't "get it". Of course this is only my opinion, and I'm not trying to say the people who feel different are wrong, or that I'm right. However, those people are wrong and I am right. :)

So, I keep hearing people say "there are no likable characters". Or that "all the characters are despicable, bad people". Or that "it's too violent and the sex scenes are too graphic". It's true that Joe does tend to write characters that look out for themselves and/or are violent, brutal, greedy, conflicted, bitter, cold people. However, are there not people like that in real life? "You have to be realistic". Sometimes, bad things happen to people in their life that make them this way, and that's the case with most of the characters in this book. It doesn't necessarily mean they are solely bad people, incapable of being or doing good things. If you're looking for a book with heroes, noble knights, fantasy tropes, elves, wizards, dragons, orcs, goblins, a "big bad" to root against and a "shining star" to root for, don't even start this book. I don't know why people can't relate to at least some of what the characters are going through in this book. I guess these people live perfect lives with no mistakes, people that have never suffered setbacks or tragedies. Have never experienced painful reverses. I'm not saying that this would, or should make you behave the way some characters do in the book, but it's certainly realistic that it could make some people behave that way, and it's damn entertaining to read about. These characters aren't bad for the sake of simply being bad, they aren't just plot devices. There is a REASON they do the things they do, and the reasons are explained in vivid, brutal detail and all make sense. Even the characters that are mostly pure evil are still easy to be entertained by. Can you not think of any villains that you've read about or watched in movies that you "love to hate"? There are plenty of happy, shallow, predictable, light hearted fantasy books out there. There's nothing wrong with some books being brutal and realistic, for that's the world we live in, and it adds a sense of emotion to the book that hits home, especially with the morbid minded of us out there.

In regards to the sex scenes, yes, they are just like all of Joe's other writing aspects. Fast, brutal, realistic, vivid and detailed. They are also funny and entertaining, as they are in all of Joe's other books. If sex in detail offends you then again, skip this book. There are adults out there that enjoy sex and aren't bothered by hearing about it. No one is suggesting this is a book for children. This also has both revenge killings and large scale battles. They are very detailed and contain a lot of gore and violence, as you would imagine a real medieval battle would have. I don't believe the battle scenes are excessive, and they are always interspersed by many chapters of character and plot development, along with an abundance of dark, gallows humor.

Now, on to the story. This will include some minor spoilers so read at your own risk. Nothing big, but I will lay out the very basic information that a synopsis usually includes, and some information that is revealed in the very first chapter of the book. Monza Murcatto is a famous mercenary Captain General of the "1000 swords", along with her brother Benna who runs the books, keeps track of the money and contracts etc. She has been employed by Duke Orso of Styria for 8-10 years (Duke Orso also made a brief appearance in the First Law trilogy when he helped save The Union from The Gurkish. His daughter is Queen of The Union and wife of Jezal Dan Luthar). Monza has won many famous victories over the years for Orso. In the events of the first chapter she is betrayed by Orso, stabbed, choked, has her hand crushed and is thrown from a balcony down a mountain and presumed dead. There were seven men in the room when this happened to her. This is her story about how she survived, and her quest to take revenge on those seven men in the room. Most of whom were her friends, and some like family.

She recruits help for this mission. Shivers (from Joe's previous First Law trilogy) is the first of the recruits. He's arrived in Styria to start life over after leaving The North, to be a better person and leave a life of killing behind him. He's the closest person to "likable" in the book, and his transformation and character development is outstanding, tragic and scary. Friendly is her second recruit. A former prison convict, a sociopathic, number obsessed man that is tasked by one of Monzas previous acquaintances who owes her, to assist her in her revenge. Third is Morveer, a professional poisoner and narcissist, and his assistant Day, a child like/looking young woman that's obsessed with food, and every bit as accomplished in the art of poison as Morveer. Fourth is Shilo Vitari, also from the First Law trilogy. Finally there is Nicomo Cosca, the previous Captain General of the Thousand Swords (again, from the First Law trilogy). Cosca was Monza's mentor and the man that initially hired her (when she was barely more than a child) to be a common soldier in the Thousand Swords. All of these characters are as extremely interesting, entertaining, sympathetic, vile, perplexing, brutal, realistic, funny and varied as any that Joe has ever written. They have different motivations that change over time, some are loyal and some are not. Nothing is what it seems, and this has one of the best endings I've read in Abercrombies books. It also sets up certain characters perfectly for Joe's next standalone book "The Heroes", and even the one after that "Red Country".

If you're a fan of First Law and Joe Abercrombie you must read this. It's every bit as good if not better than his trilogy. Not a single dull or boring chapter. I must also give credit to Steven Pacey, the narrator. If Joe Abercrombie is credited as being the person who invented this wonderful story and characters then Steven Pacey should be credited for breathing real life into them. No other narrator reads like he does, his voice acting for these characters, his ability to put the amount of emotion into them, the authentic realism he brings to them... it's something I've never heard in an audio book before, at least not to this extent. I will never READ another book that he narrates, I will always chose audio book format, even if I have to wait for a long time after the book comes out.

7 people found this helpful

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Great standalone book in "The First Law" world.

I greatly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to anyone who read and enjoyed "The First Law" trilogy. If I'm not mistaken, this is the 4th book in the series, but it's not part of the trilogy. It's a standalone book that follows mostly different characters and occurs after the trilogy. The narrator (Steven Pacey) is simply amazing and I found the story to be very entertaining. A+++++++

9 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Great narration, good story, but the platitudes

The First Law trilogy is probably my favorite trilogy. I've listened to it three times through. Best Served Cold was a good story, but I swear every other sentence was a platitude trying to be a very profound introspective statement. I don't remember The First Law trilogy being that way. Either way this book is still worth a credit and listen.

11 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Who Cares?

Joe Abercrombie is not an author to listen to if you like kittens and milkshakes with two straws. I've listened to many of his books and liked "most" of them. First, he is a GOOD writer. You can take that to the bank. But he is dark and morose and most of his books are going to be NC-17 for one reason or another.

All that said, I was hoping for another Logan Ninefinger's type story, but there's just no one to like in this book. For any reason. By the end of the book, with a mostly so-so story, you could care less if anyone survives.

There's no Glokta in this story. No Logan. No one to care about, and I think that is why by the end it's like dining on a loaf of moldy white bread.

33 people found this helpful

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Incredible writing, legendary narration

I've come to really enjoy Joe Abercrombie's writing, and this is his best story yet. It is fast paced, yet detailed. Hard edged, but tender. Bloody, yet touching. As flawed as the characters are, Abercrombie puts you inside each of their heads, giving you a deep connection with them all. Pacey breathes incredible life into these characters with his distinct voices and accents and his terribly consistent performance made me want to listen to every second. A narration of the top quality.

6 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Great and droning at the same time

The book has a good first half, and a very dragged out second half. Predictable plot twist. Story ends with closure, but none of it feels like the plot came together at the end. I felt little attachment to any of the characters like I felt in the First Law trilogy. The amount of detail and insight into each character is excellent, but the plot itself is very lacking. Narrator is probably the best I've ever heard.

2 people found this helpful