Great news for Americans! Finally, you have caught up with the British. No, not in economic, diplomatic, industrial, constitutional, military, scientific, sporting or cultural ways, obviously, but in something FAR MORE IMPORTANT. Yes, indeed, it would appear that you can now get a US Hardcover of Best Served Cold, for as far as I can tell amazon.com are now shipping the book.
No doubt the US release will lead to a new wave of reviews and opinions, which I am naturally chomping at the bit to see. A few have floated past my consciousness in the last month or so, though. Interzone did an in-depth review and interview this month, and said, among other things:
“Abercrombie’s narrative twists and turns, playing with but also against the reader’s expectations. His characters do likewise; as a result it is easier initially to indetify with them, but their realistic unpredictability means that it’s almost impossible to determine what will eventually happen. Rather, in fact, like life, and for me, one of the great pleasures of Joe Abercrombie’s fiction is that his characters are lifelike.”
Come forth and be pleasured. By lifelike characterisation. Writer Tim Stretton has also had a look at the book over at sf&fantasy; enthusiasts. He is enthusiastic:
“Best Served Cold is every bit as bleak, gory, funny and accomplished as its predecessors … this is a vigorous, morally complex book, vivid in its depictions of war and its grown-up cousin diplomacy. Best Served Cold is highly recommended.”
But I dunno, are you allowed to be unenthusiastic over there? You can certainly be unenthusiastic at Neth Space, though, and Ken was, just a little, in his review of Best Served Cold:
“The First Law Trilogy was a refreshing offering in the often stale genre of epic fantasy. Hoping for an equally refreshing read in Best Served Cold, I found that any novelty remaining quickly wore off.”
Hmm. This complaint about everything feeling a little familiar feels a little familiar. Where did I read it before, now? Ah! In Ken’s review of Before They are Hanged.
“Before They Are Hanged does all this (and more), but since this is the second book of the trilogy, the novelty of the approach has worn off. With the novelty gone, things almost become tiresome in places.”
Hmm. One might almost be tempted to say something like – “the more-of-same approach of Ken’s reviews entertains, yet becomes tedious at times and unfortunately left me wanting more of that special something that I’m convinced he can give.” But of course I’ve got way more class than that. WAY MORE. Not as much as the folks at ferretbrain, though, who are prone to write some criticism both insightful, amusing, and well-written while yet being conversational (yes, I can be nice when I’m in the rare mood). And there’s a very interesting and in-depth reaction to Best Served Cold from Kyra Smith , who you could say has a love it/hate it relationship to my work, and finds herself once again conflicted:
“By the end I wasn’t entirely sure what I thought, although the fact I got there at the speed I did proves one thing at least: the man can write a gripping story. And, even though I have yet to fully establish whether I actually like what he writes, I’m still hopelessly intrigued by his books.”
Well, I guess that’s a lot better than being hopelessly bored by ’em, eh? She finishes with a conclusion not dissimilar to Ken’s actually, though perhaps more positively expressed:
“It’s set in the same world, it has a similar approach, similar characters and, hell, even the same damn cover. It has the comparable strengths and weaknesses of The First Law Trilogy, except the weaknesses bothered me less and the strengths seemed more pronounced. In short, if Joe Abercrombie is a one trick pony, it’ll be a fucking stallion by the time he’s done.”
Hi ho silver!
And finally, to possibly the strangest review of my works I’ve ever come across, from BC Woods at Dunce Upon a Time, an amusing yet slightly scary piece which begins with an examination of the First Law and ends (or perhaps I was hallucinating) with the torture of giant talking Penises. For real. And he really liked the books. I can only imagine what he has to say about books he doesn’t like. Actually, scratch that. I CAN’T imagine it.