Book Review: Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

I’m beginning to get addicted to Joe Abercrombie’s writing. “The First Law”¬†books really impressed me with their gritty realism and their character development. But I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to read a standalone series set in the same world. I wanted to know more about Logen Ninefinger and Ferro Maljin. But I thought I’d give it a go. And I was hooked right from the first chapter itself. Shivers who’s trying to be a better man plays a huge role, but the lead characters are new.

It’s…disturbing. Some may try and compare Abercrombie’s style to George R. R. Martin. But I feel that Martin is shallow – killing off his heroes without any rhyme or reason probably because the plot is getting boring. Abercrombie on the other hand has no problems making dramatic shifts in his main characters as the novel progresses through its bloody path. And this fits in with his general “anti war” theme. No other author I’ve read does such a good job of it. The true sickness and terror of war come through via its effects on even the most battle hardened veterans.

One grouse I have with this book is the same I had with the “Song of Ice and Fire” series – namely that there is woefully little “fantasy” in it. It’s there – kind of lurking in the background but never really makes an appearance. It’s more of medieval fiction. But I was able to forgive it because of how well it was written. But there should have been a few fantasy elements present – something that was very well done with The First Law books.

The ending of the book reveals that all the drama is little more than a side show in a larger game – between the prophet Khalil and Bayaz. Both have their monumental institutions to back them up. Bayaz of course has the might of Valint & Balk and the prophet has his own religion. Money vs Faith. An interesting stand off :)

It seems that there are no true villains. Those you thought were the bad guys turn out to have complex motivations that make sense in hindsight. It’s all a perspective of where you stand. Which kind of makes it a hopeless cause. Shit happens, and you can’t really blame it on anyone or feel just wrath when exacting revenge. I’m going to be reading the other two standalone novels of Abercrombie starting with “The Heroes” and “Red Country”. I also heard that he’s commissioned to bring out four more books set in this world. I’d love to read those!

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