After reading Joe Abercrombie's brilliant First Law trilogy earlier this summer, I was desperate to read Best Served Cold. Luckily, I could grab a copy quickly (unlike a number of books here in the UK), and off I went.
Set in the same world as Abercrombie's First Law trilogy (The Blade Itself, Before They AreHanged, Last Argument of Kings), Best Served Cold unveils the new scenery of Styria, a country rife with civil war, brutal politics, and - seeing an eager opportunity for profit -, the mercenaries. One such is the Thousand Swords, a mercenary army led by Monzcarro Murcatto, the Snake of Talins. But when the popular Murcatto "takes a fall" from the balcony of her employers' mountaintop palace, it's time for - yes, revenge. The fairly basic plot is complicated by, well, complications - and one great twist for an ending.
Best Served Cold iswritten in the style Abercrombie does best - cynical, amusing, and gritty. In fact, even more so than the First Law trilogy. It's an eclectic mix of cynicism, humour, and adventure - but despite this, it's lost some of the First Law's flair. It's not quite so humorous, and the characters certainly aren't quite so invigorating. Styria, likewise, provides a grittier setting, but perhaps doesn't give all of the room to showcase what Abercrombie did best in the First Law - intrigue, conspiracy, and life in a "typical fantasy city".
My conclusion? Best Served Cold is certainly Abercrombie, but the First Law's world, in my opinion, succeeds better in complimenting Abercrombie's unique style.
A voracious science fiction and fantasy reader - I like to think, anyway. I live in England, meaning I end up watching the rain through the window more than I'd like! I run a monthly series on fantasy magic systems over at Grasping for the Wind, and am a staff member at Fantasy Faction - where you should definitely check out the forums - as well as running my blog, Drying Ink.