Author: Joe Abercrombie
Genre: Grimdark Fantasy
Series: First Law Standalone
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In Styria Duke Orso has been waging war with the League of Eight for almost two decades. With his complete victory drawing near, his success is largely thanks to employing one of the lands most fearsome mercenaries, Monzcarro Murcatto. As Monza claims victory after victory, Orso grows jealous and orders her killed. Dropped down the side of a mountain and left for dead she begins her recovery, and with a small band of killers, begins plotting her revenge.
When I think of revenge stories, The Count of Monte Cristo comes to mind. And while I enjoyed that story, I found the ending to be too soft and forgiving. It's not just Monte Cristo, I find that to be an issue with a lot of revenge plots. So when I saw Joe Abercrombie was going to take on the revenge tale, I knew I would be reading something brutal and unforgiving.
Monza is probably my favorite Abercrombie character. She's a woman who's endured a lot, and has the will power to accomplish any task placed in front of her. She probably has the most protagonist oriented arc of any major character in the First Law world ... so far. At the same time that's not to say she isn't loaded up with flaws. Despite some pretty egregious wrongs attributed to her name, Abercrombie still has you rooting for her.
Joining Monza are a memorable set of accomplices, there is ... Morveer the poisoner, a despicable narcissistic man that will grate on your nerves; his assistant Day who likes to eat; Vitari a skilled fighter who used to work with Glokta in the Union; Cosca the former mercenary and now full-time drunk who adds a sad touch of humor to everything; Friendly the killer who likes to count numbers and wishes he was back in his favorite place, prison; and finally there's Caul Shivers the Northerner who only wishes to be an honest man and do the right thing.
Revenge plots are usually fast moving, cold, and brutal and Best Served Cold lives up to that promise. Most of the characters go through pretty significant transitions or at least learn more about who they are as a person. The twists and reveals that come as the plot rolls forward are rewarding, and the ending ties everything in nicely with the concluding events of The First Law Trilogy.
Speaking of which, a lot of major characters from the original trilogy either make a cameo, or are mentioned throughout, yet at the same time much of the plot to Abercrombie's first trilogy is never revealed in any great detail. So while it is possible to read this without reading the original trilogy, I would personally recommend that you don't. That being said this is my favorite revenge story, and so far my favorite by Abercrombie.