Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie is one of the best revenge stories I have ever experienced. Not just a tale of getting even, it is an examination of the consequences of revenge and the emotional and psychological toll revenge takes.
Revenge of revenge…errr whatever.
Best Served Cold focuses on notorious mercenary Monza Murcatto, the snake of Talins, in her pursuit of revenge against her former employer Grand Duke Orso who unceremoniously murdered her brother and her friends before throwing her down a mountain. Though her body is scarred and broken, she is driven by an insatiable desire to kill the seven men responsible for her fall.
Along the way she is joined by none other than Caul Shivers (Logen Ninefingers Lite), a master poisoner and his hungry apprentice, a numbers-obsessed ex-convict, and famed drunken mercenary Nicomo Cosca (who readers might recall from Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings). Together, they work toward Murcatto’s aims, learning life lessons along the bloodstained way and leaving a trail of bodies that would even make Black Dow proud.
As with the original trilogy, Abercrombie’s descriptions are vivid and haunting. The characters are thoroughly realized, but suffer from a little bit of tunnel vision. I suspect this is due to the more self-contained focus of the story where the first trilogy was wider in scope. Readers of said trilogy will notice a few returning character cameos and Glotka’s presence is felt even if he is never on page.
In conclusion, all of my expectations for Best Served Cold were met, and that feeling of nihilistic emptiness has fully abated. I’m already through the Heroes and nearly half-way through Red Country, which is good because my copy of A Little Hatred will be here today. There are some authors who do individual things better than Joe, but there are even fewer who can do everything with his level of excellence (ymmv). So if you’re like me and you’ve put off reading First Law 4-6, I think you can stop…but then again…I’m not done with Red Country yet.