Best Served Cold Reviewed … Lots

June 13th, 2009

Much movement upon the blogosphere and, indeed, in the realms of printed media, with all manner of opinion expressed about Best Served Cold . I will try to get through all the ones I’m aware of. First up, a review from that esteemed organ of the US book trade Publishers Weekly has also weighed in, with a starred review, no less:

“Abercrombie returns to the blood-drenched arena of the First Law trilogy (The Blade Itself, etc.) with this skillfully crafted and bleakly humorous sword and sorcery adventure. Duke Orso imagines that he can become king by ending the civil wars that have devastated Styria, but he errs by trying to kill his overly popular general, mercenary Monza Murcatto. Recovering from her massive injuries and mourning her murdered brother, Monza vows vengeance on Orso and half a dozen of his accomplices. Employing her own motley crew of death dealers, Monza gets her revenge, but it’s neither simple nor satisfying; each target requires fresh strategy, and each death has unexpected effects. Abercrombie is both fiendishly inventive and solidly convincing, especially when sprinkling his appallingly vivid combat scenes with humor so dark that it’s almost ultraviolet.”

You want more stars? How about five of the bastards from UK Genre magazine Sci-Fi Now:

“All in all, we can’t say enough good words about Joe Abercrombie’s latest addition to the genre.”

Oh, go on! Give it a try!

“It’s intelligent, measured, thoughtful, well paced and considered, but retains a sense of fun that has flavoured the rest of his excellent bibliography. We can’t recommend it enough.”

Nice. And another from from Mark Yon at SFFWorld:

“For all its gruesomeness, its bleakness and its moral cynicism it is a rich, memorable tale, exciting and well structured. This will be a ‘best of the year’ novel for many in the genre. It is still a pleasure to see this author’s talent develop.”

It certainly would be a pleasure to see it develop. Yet another opinion on Best Served Cold at Drift Line

“Not exactly very heroic, but very human. One of the strengths of Joe’s writing is his very believable, very human and very complex characters. They are mesmerising and engaging, and are a joy to read.”

Be mesmerised. And even yet another from Simon A at BookGeeks:

“It’s a testament to Abercrombie’s skill as a storyteller that he can, over the course of your acquaintance with them, make you care about generals, assassins, cut-throats, barbarians, poisoners and (worst of all?) politicians so much, and in spite of their dubious deeds. Best Served cold is definitely this author’s best work to date.”

Lovely. And I’ll leave the last word for Dave Bradley, editor of SFX:

“Overall this is an immediately rewarding experience. There are unexpected reveals in the final third that are unexpected yet satisfyingly logical. The standalone nature of this instalment should attract new readers, and its tight, uncompromising focus makes for an absorbing read. Best Served Cold? Modern fantasy doesn’t get much hotter than this.”

Well said, that man. I’ll bring you some slating just as soon as I find some but, and I’m being totally honest here, when it comes to shitty opinions about Best Served Cold, as far as I can tell the internet cupboard is bare … so far. Ah, with all these props what a fine book it must be. But don’t take my word for it, or even that of all these blogging and journalistic worthies. There’s an attractive young man with a very full head of hair talking about it on the Border’s newsletter. Weirdly enough the piece was also edited by yours truly. I am indeed multi-untalented.

Oh, I almost forgot in all the excitement over new books, a thoughtful comment on that crumbly old fossil The First Law fromElf M. Sternberg if that is his real name,

“Abercrombie’s series has everything you could want … The characterization is astounding, and his characters go deep and real. It is a brilliant and bold story that climbs over the bodies and scales the battlements of extruded fantasy product, unbuttons its fly and pisses all over the generic doorstops that litter the big box bookstore shelves. And yet, for all the astounding dramatic pyrotechnics, the ending leaves me vaguely depressed, vaguely upset, and without sympathy for losers, without celebration with the winners, without any real heroes.”


Posted in reviews by Joe Abercrombie on June 13th, 2009. Tags:

29 comments so far

  • Tobi A says:

    OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't wait till I get my hands on the book. Why the hell is it being released so late in North America. I am currently occupying myself with reruns of shows from the '90s and a shitload of porn, which is actually a pretty good combination.

    Please hurry up and come out here so I can be made whole again because you know there's something wrong when you get tired of jerking off.

    Now, when is the next book coming out?

  • KEIKOO says:

    I'm halfway through the book and I want moooorreeeee!!!!!

  • Phil says:

    I agree with Tobi!!! I can't wait!!! Joe you should move to Canada and publish here first!

    But then, I don't want to make England unhappy… so you could send me an early copy! 🙂

    Anyway, keep the good work, I love your stuff.

  • Rob Barrett says:

    This is why I'm working my way through Bakker's Prince of Nothing trilogy and Morgan's Steel Remains prior to my trip to the UK on 7/20 . . . to whet my appetite for Best Served Cold (which will be purchased at a Waterstone's near my in-laws shortly after my plane touches down).

  • enjai says:

    How can we resist unexpected reveals that are unexpected?

    I'm trying to rifle through the end of olympos, but BSC rests upon the dining table demanding my attention. Don't worry the dining table in reality is a desk, I'm not intending to eat it. Come to think of it, is there any warning on the booking stating the title is not s serving suggestion? Maybe I can get a tv lawyer to sue you if i fall ill through eating a hardback…

  • Tim Stretton says:

    I also have a review over at SFFE, but you'll have to wait 'til it's been through moderation to see whether I liked it…

  • marky says:

    I finished BSC over the weekend, and it was fantastic. Truly, a brilliant read from start to finish.

    It's a wonder nobody's called it ‘fantasy's version of Kill Bill’ in your reviews.

    You get a Marky score of 10 out of 10, but one point gets deducted for me having to explain to my girlfriend what a golden shower is. You sick, twisted author you.

  • Anonymous says:

    Well done Joe. Great novel, great characters. Another fantasy book for adults.



  • monoman says:

    Best Served Cold, page 36: 'Aside from some stale bread it was the only thing to have passed his lips that morning.'

    Withnail & I, scene 4: Apart from a raw potato, that's the only solid to have passed my lips in the last sixty hours.

    Deliberate Easter Egg for the Withnail fans out there, or total coincidence? I think we should be told… 😉

  • Dan R. says:

    Speaking of easter eggs, loved the 'brave companions' line.

  • Tobi A,
    I hardly know what to say…

    Perhaps – the other half?

    I hope you don't agree with Tobi about all of it…

    Rob B,
    Ah yes, like cleansing the palet with water before tasting the fine scotch, that you might truly detect its eminent superiority…

    You can resist them, but you cannot expect them.

    Tim S,
    I look forward to your review with the keenest of anticipation. But are you allowed bad reviews over there anyway?

    Quite a few people have called it a fantasy kill bill. Funnily enough that never really occurred to me until I read it mentioned, though it is quite obvious. They just aren't films that made a particularly deep impression on me, somehow.

    Why, thank you.

    Monoman, Dan R,
    Easter eggs, homage, unwitting echo, deliberate theft? Who can say? Well, I suppose I could, but I'm not.

  • Phil says:

    Hum… you're right Joe, I only agree with his two first sentences. The rest is weird…

  • Tim Stretton says:

    "Tim S,
    I look forward to your review with the keenest of anticipation. But are you allowed bad reviews over there anyway?"

    Ummm…no, since you mention it. But that kinda saps the dramatic tension…although I reckon you could squeeze in a "damning with faint praise" job if you were really bloody minded. But who knows anyone like that ; – )

  • harvb says:

    Finished BSC myself this weekend and just wanted to add my voice to the "Yay" crowd. Loved it. I had a few issues with it but I'm sure I'll be in the minority.

    You know, you really need a forum or something, Joe – it's a nightmare not being able to discuss the books here without resorting to being vague and worrying about spoilers!

    Great book, looking forward to the next one.

  • barfly says:

    dropped other books to read BSC, almost 1/2 way through .. it's praise well and truly deserved, congrats to you Joe. imho you are helping raise the bar for the epic/SnS corner of the genre and that is a GREAT thing. in the long run we'll all benefit from it. here's hoping you are feeling some of that love now. oh, and like the others have said, "more please!"

  • Susanne says:

    I finished it Sunday morning and am still unable to pen a review without gushing people to death, so just a heartfelt "AWESOME" from me for now. Man, I loved this, Joe. Can we have a lot more, please?

    And I agree with Harv: could we have a spoiler thread next time? You and your twists and turns! I had almost as much fun speculating as I had reading. 🙂

  • Peter J. says:

    Good book. I really enjoyed it.

    For all the people writing from Canada and the US:

    Just order it from, that's what I did. I'm going to wait another month or more for it to get to Canada? Hah!

    Bizarrely, with shipping included it came out to about the same price: $35 CAD.

  • Anonymous says:

    OK, not an advertisment, but if you are really that eager to get it, why not just use the english website BookDepository?

    It has free shipping to Canada and USA and the book costs $17.55 USD ($20 CAD). I actually got it from BookDepository even cheaper as a pre-order – $15.70 CAD, and received it one day after the official release date.

  • seruko says:

    I am in the States as well, and while I purchased my copy from, the book depot anon mentions above sounds like a better deal. The the sun never sets on the world wide webs, the internets plumb every ocean, if you want to book just buy it.

  • daft sod says:

    On Monday last week I found BSC lying on my stairs, freshly delivered from Amazon. I watched the last season of The Wire before I started with BSC, though. Tough choice there. I finished BSC today and in a way it was rather close to The Wire, besides being awsome but that was to be expected. Thanks Joe, not only for BSC, but also for recommending The Wire.

    PS I like me a full circle

  • Alexander says:

    I could not wait for the german-version of your book and so got me the UK-version. I like that cover (great work) and I love the inside (amazing).

  • Anonymous says:

    Picked up my copy today at Waterstones. The cover art is gorgeous, the pictures on the web do it no justice.

    I won't be starting it for a few days, just the small matter of finishing "The Book of the New Sun" by Gene Wolfe first.

    I am looking really forward to it though.

  • maart says:

    Just like a couple of people above, I can not wait to read the book. I loved the First Law trilogy.

    Too bad it's going to take a long time for me to get my hands on the book. It's not going to be released here in the near future (that's my way of saying never I suppose). And even if it was, it'd be butchered by god-awful translations like other fantasy books. And I can't order it from amazon either (even if I could, I'm not sure they ship stuff to here. So yeah, it's going to be more or less forever me.

    I suppose I will have to keep an eye out for a copy on my upcoming travels.

    Anyways, gongrats on the positive reviews man. I hope this does well and you keep on writing. You know, I had quit reading altogether for quite some time. You and a few other author's have revived my interest/faith in books.

  • Roger R says:

    Just finished the book and it's been a great experience. Thanks!

    Every book from the First Law Trilogy was better than the one before and now you've surpassed yourself again. I can't wait for the next Northern Book.

  • Peter J. says:

    I'd never heard of that Book Depository site before. It does look cheaper then ! Although I generally prefer shopping in person.

  • Anonymous says:

    "Humour so dark it's almost ultra-violet?"

    Infrared, you mean!

  • PezDspenser says:

    My only concern is, when I finish it I'll have nothing to read the rest of the summer. So I have to force my self to stop reading at the end of each chapter.

  • monoman says:

    Anyone looking for something to read after the excellent BSC should try this:;=books&qid;=1246276176&sr;=1-1

    Simply stunning.

  • Yeah, that's my real name. Unfortunate that, especially around Christmas. I usually make vague, dark jokes about being caught with Donner and Blitzen and, well, you don't want to know the rest.

    You don't know who I am? God, that's refreshing.

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