Saturday, August 22, 2009

Best Served Cold - Joe Abercrombie

Best Served Cold is set in the same world as his earlier trilogy, and in fact shares a few of the minor characters. The region of interest changes from the Union, to Styria and its Duke, who will also be familiar to readers of the earlier books.

A similar sort of story: if you are a soldier getting involved in killing that disrupts things, do you actually know what is going on? Who is manipulating who? Particularly given that this is a fantasy story and there are immensely long-lived powerful shadowy supernatural entities lurking in the background. There are some of these floating around in the story, too.

The main character is a mercenary leader, who becomes too popular for the Duke that employs her's comfort, so he has her murdered. Or so he thinks, as the throwing down a mountain didn't quite take.

Put back together, she sets out for revenge, and accumulates a crew of hirelings. An obsessive convict with a cleaver, a master poisoner and his apprentice, a torturer, and a Named Man Northerner, and a showpony drunken ex-mercenary leader. In other words, an extremely violent (and good at it) bunch.

So the question is continually asked through the book: is revenge worth it? Particularly as revenge at her level can destabilise societies and cause a lot of ancillary carnage.

Plenty of mayhem and black humour to be found, then. If you like the earlier books, not much doubt you'll like this, I think. I give this one a not-quite 4, rounded up.

4 out of 5

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