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Summary

Springtime in Styria. And that means war. There have been nineteen years of blood. The ruthless Grand Duke Orso is locked in a vicious struggle with the squabbling League of Eight, and between them they have bled the land white.

While armies march, heads roll and cities burn, behind the scenes bankers, priests and older, darker powers play a deadly game to choose who will be king. War may be hell but for Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, the most feared and famous mercenary in Duke Orso's employ, it's a damn good way of making money too. Her victories have made her popular - a shade too popular for her employer's taste.

Betrayed, thrown down a mountain and left for dead, Murcatto's reward is a broken body and a burning hunger for vengeance. Whatever the cost, seven men must die.

©2010 Joe Abercrombie (P)2010 Orion Publishing Group Limited

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Stuart
  • OXON, United Kingdom
  • 08-02-13

Low down dirty double crossing ...

Steven Pacey! Steven Pacey! Steven Pacey!



I really enjoyed this, even more than the First Law Trilogy. The book has a great depth of characters, and the narrator brings these to life wonderfully. It's a great combination of a well written book and first class narration.



I recently reviewed The Painted Man (different author) and I wasn't kind to it, because I had no empathy for the characters and ultimately didn’t care what happened to them. In this book most of the characters are low down dirty double crossing villains, but you can't help enjoy them. The reason you warm to them is they aren't just plain bad, they have some depth to them and complexity. Joe Abercrombie has a wonderful way of building a story and getting you to care for the type character that most other authors would have cast as the villain. His world isn't black and white, there are people who just seem to get drawn into bad things … as well as those who just relish it.



The references to the First Law Trilogy were excellent and some of the characters from that appear and get expanded upon. A word of warning though - prepared for dark deeds, dark humour and a couple of occasions where you feel like you might lose your lunch.



Fantastic stuff

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Gavin
  • Derby, United Kingdom
  • 21-01-12

New recording

This book was originally sold with a change of narrator from the First Law books however the publisher has taken note and re-recorded this title and the following book with Steven Pacey. If you bought this with the other narrator you can re-download the title and it will be the new version with Steven Pacey. Excellant news given his brilliant performance.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • mike
  • grays, United Kingdom
  • 01-04-14

Abercrombie + Pacey = Win!

Would you listen to Best Served Cold again? Why?

Yes. Performance by Pacey is amazing, he does justice to the gritty dialogue

What was one of the most memorable moments of Best Served Cold?

Relationship between drug addled monza and shivers

Which character – as performed by Steven Pacey – was your favourite?

Shivers

Any additional comments?

Other narrators should study Pacey. Have listened to several audiobooks before and never heard any other performance even come close to the same quality. He is consistent with the voices but he goes beyond that and builds a character and speech mannerisms.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

delightfully vicious

I loved the First Law series, and I think of this as a straight continuation into The Heroes. Steven Pacey's visceral reading brings this brilliant, fresh fantasy book to life with vivid sardonic character, and the book itself has a satisfying pace with lots of notches on the narrative axe. Because it is a complete story within one book I liked this the best of all the Joe Abercrombie series, but it is certainly richer reading them all in order, starting with The Blade Itself. It's satisfying to see minor characters from one book developed in later volumes, and it seems to me that this is a hallmark of Joe Abercrombie's writing - a mastery of point of view. I consider these books a real milestone in fantasy literature, and dare I say it, a bit better than Game of Thrones?

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent follow-on from the first law trilogy

Joe Abercombie just keeps getting better and better.

Story – 5/5

Joe Abercrombie has managed to get all of the elements of this novel perfect. His character development and sharp whit is still definitely his strongest point, but this time the story has a very fast pace, for those readers who complained about the story progression in ‘The Blade Itself'

As the title suggests, it is a revenge plot story. But there isn’t only the main story arc, there are also a few smaller intertwined stories of revenge throughout, and it is done extremely smoothly. What I especially loved about this novel was how he took a couple of the minor characters from his first law trilogy that we weren’t too bothered about, and developed them into very likeable and interesting characters. This is a standalone novel though, so don’t be put off if you haven’t read the preceding books.

Another thing I love about Joe Abercrombie’s novels, is how he spends about 1 hour after the “big ending” to set a picture of how the story will continue. This not only gives a better impression of an epic world, of which this is a small story within, but it also prolongs the enjoyment of the story by making the reader think about it after finishing.

Performance – 5/5

Steven Pacey is one of the best narrators out there. His character acting was flawless, each having a distinctive and believable voice. His narration enhanced the dark comedy and whit of Joe Abercrombie’s writing, and I felt myself absorbed into the action scenes/battles.

Music/sound effects between scenes/chapters was a nice touch as well, although it would have been nicer to not re-use previous sound effects.

Overall – 5/5

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Pacey and Abercrombie, Purveyors of the Finest!

Best Served Cold indeed! As I said in my review of the First Law series I was going to leave these a while and now that I have what an absolute treat it is. If you take the words of Abercrombie and get Steven Pacey to give voice to them then you have pure audio gold. This is among the very finest audiobooks I have ever read.

Abercrombie takes some of the lesser characters from the fabulous First Law series and tells their story keeping the world itself alive. This is a tale of revenge and all of his characters are massively three-dimensional. A distinct part of his art is actually making you fall in love with characters who are driven by baser instincts. Somehow he instills a nobility into some of them making them real contradictions.

It's brilliant stuff and the homespun philosophy of some of them coupled with the delicious irony and sarcasm is a heady mix. The whole thing is a fast-moving cocktail of dark humour, cunning plans, strong violence and gore all set in a colourful world of vivid hues. And once again Abercrombie demonstrates his ability to write the most incredible, quotes, romantic scenes in literature . . .

Of course all of this could be brought somewhat down to Earth with a bad choice of narrator. But cometh the book cometh the narrator. Steven Pacey is so absolutely perfect for this it's almost like divine intervention must have brought these two together. He's a fabulous voice actor and you only have to look at what happened to the ratings in the Department Q series after he was dropped and read the reviews to see how important he can be. In these books the dialogue and character thoughts are absolutely key and he delivers them with absolute aplomb.

So, if you want to experience fantasy genre audio of the highest quality start with the First Law series and when you're ready take this one out of the fridge nice and cold. It's delicious.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Hoorah for Steven Pacey

Imagine my delight upon just starting to listen to this book with a different narrator, suddenly I find that it is now Steven Pacey!

And so is the final book: Happy New Year!

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Dale
  • Aylesbury, United Kingdom
  • 26-11-11

Well worth the listen if you don't mind the blood!

An epic story. Bloodthirsty and lots of graphic detail (not lunchtime reading!!) A good plot and well worth the effort. I liked it.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Grace
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 05-06-11

Fun story, shame about the narrator

This is a fun fantasy story, with the usual gore and heroics, plus Abercrombie's fine pacing and witty characters; but in contrast with the First Law trilogy I think it is a little too stolid in its use of familiar themes and character types - in fact, several episodes, motives, settings, and even character traits seem to have been transposed almost directly from that story into this.

In common with other reviewers, I found that what really let this book down was its narrator. In the grand scheme of things he is probably okay, bar some mispronunciations and errors of emphasis, but he definitely suffers in comparison with the narrator of the First Law trilogy, who was excellent. I'm not sure why the publishers chose a different actor for this book, because several of the same characters reappear, and when you find they are suddenly given an entirely new voice - and therefore personality - it disrupts your enjoyment, and the continuity of the plotlines.

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Alastair
  • Swindon, Wiltshire, United Kingdom
  • 02-02-11

Stonking book - Narration Flaws

A fantastic book, great follow on from the first law series - but the change of narrator across the two really impacted my sense of continuity - a shame otherwise it would have five stars from me.
It did feel like someone had replaced your fave actor in a soap with a different purpose and expected you not to notice.
Outside of that, the same good pace and balance, with characters and plot lines that pulled you around emotionally with them.

11 of 18 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Zati
  • 28-04-14

Fun and Twisted

At this point, I think it's a safe bet that I will enjoy anything read by Steven Pacey. And I honestly think Joe Abercrombie gets better with every book. Very very addictive.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Nathan
  • 14-04-13

Great from start to finish

A great new cast of characters along with some familiar names. Things kick off right from the start and keep pace righ to the end. Great characters, well developed and in Abercrombies style often put to beffitting or undeserved ends.

Once again Steven Pacey puts in a flawless performance, every character unique and he hits every whispered, whimppered, croaked, shouted and stranggled line without fail.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • John M
  • 18-03-13

Another excellent story from Joe Abercrombie

Steven Pacey is an outstanding narrator who gives life to Abercrombie's colourful characters. Its a dark tale of revenge with many excellent Abercombie twists. Things often don't go the way you might expect.

Favourite character the swashbuckling Koska who always sees the humorous side. Another well crafted, intriguing but despicable character is the Poisoner Morvia. All of the characters are flawed but it makes them all the more interesting.

I listened to the "First Law" prior to this and enjoyed it. "Best Served Cold" is also excellent.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • lowfat
  • 26-01-13

11ty times better than the Michael Page version.

Which character – as performed by Steven Pacey – was your favorite?

All of them. Shame this version wasn't available first. Steven Pacey narrates so significantly better than Michael Page it ain't even funny.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Karen
  • 08-08-12

not for all tastes

Found this book a bit too gruesome for myself. The underlying story is quite interesting for the more hardened listeners.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Chris
  • 24-05-12

Very average

I listened to this book following the First Law series which I found very enjoyable.

Unfortunately this particular book is pretty much a straight out, almost boring tale, with only a twist at the end to keep it from being rated even lower.

Abercrombie has excellent character development, but I feel that the characters are a little too disfunctional in an almost "American sitcom disfunctional family" style.

One particular failing that I found annoying was the eventual predictable situation of knowing something was going to go disasterously wrong when detailed and meticulously laid plans were set in motion.

All in all it felt like the characters and story had moved from the sublime to the ridiculous.

There aren't really any surprises here, no multi threaded grand design all coming together at the end. The characters are all so extremely flawed and hateable to point you feel nothing for them, which doesn't give the listener much to identify and feel with through the course of the book.

Excellent narration rescues a rather forgettable storyline.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Bruno
  • 19-02-12

A Great Story - Now With Great Narration

Would you consider the audio edition of Best Served Cold to be better than the print version?

I believe that this audio production is the best way to enjoy

What did you like best about this story?

Joe Abercrombie has a wonderful talent for creating the best characters

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • matty
  • 18-04-11

Delicious

Another triumph by the best current writer of epic fantasy. From the first page Joe Abercrombie's Best Served Cold is a deliciously sordid tale of revenge, murder, cowardice, triumph and trial.

The narrative is pacey and very well constructed. The scenes each build upon each other as the book progresses. The book is also on funny. There are many moments when you can't help but laugh (and then feel guilty for laughing).

The main characters are each triumphant yet flawed; dogged yet weak; hateful yet at the same time likeable. Although none of the characters are typically heroic, you can't help but sympathise with them, notwithstanding how despicable they can be.

Michael Page is excellent.

One of my top 10 audiobooks of the last 12 months. The book caused me to laugh, sympathise, despise the violence, root for the under dog, hate the hero whilst at the same time willing her to victory...a simply delicious book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Lynn
  • 20-02-11

As Always

Thank goodness for Abercrombie a creator of real people and places unlike the usual heroic good guy fantasy schmaltz.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • NielsToft
  • 06-08-18

Absolutely riveting. Paceys narration is masterful

Abercrombies world is dark, humorous and fascinating. I find myself mumbling quotes under my breath. Brilliant.