Grand Duke Orso has been waging a war against the League of Eight in Styria for years. His biggest asset in this war is Monza Murcatto who might well be the best strategist and warrior around. But Monza is getting to popular for his taste so he decides to kill her and her brother. Unfortunately for him, Monza survives – and wants nothing but revenge. So, she gathers a group of followers (some of which we know from the previous books) and she goes after the people who betrayed her.
Best Served Cold is another excellent addition to this universe (and oh my goodness, I have to wait until summer next year until something else by Abercrombie hits the shelves? *sobsduringpreorder*). The characters feel very real, the prose is good and the story exciting. If only all books could be like that!
As in the books before, Abercrombie manages to keep his characters and his characters’ voices distinct and clear. And though, again, pretty much all of the characters are not what you’d say are good people (in fact, Shivers, who sets out in the beginning to become a better person and have a fresh start, in the end goes back to the North, worse off than he was before), you still can’t help but like them and kind of cheer for them.
I just read through my other reviews again [and boy, sometimes I say pretty clever things, don’t I? ;)] and this passage struck me:
Abercrombie circles a lot of big themes, most notably the questions whether people can really change and whether people get what they deserve. [Which he both answers with a resounding, “Are you fucking kidding me? OF COURSE NOT!”]
And he asks the same questions this time round as well, but he gives a different answer: people do change just not in the direction where they think they would. And they don’t necessarily get the things that they deserve but at least they get something.
Though this sounds a little more conciliatory than the conclusion if the First Law trilogy, Best Served Cold is pretty bitter. And it gets even more so with every chapter. [In the beginning, there’s a rather light-hearted chapter that has something of a heist plot – they try to poison a banker in his bank which has quite a lot of security – but things get pretty dark pretty quickly.]
So, summarising: If you like well-written characters who are neither perfect nor “good”, but are excellently developed, I can only recommend this book (and the First Law trilogy).
[On a sidenote: it gave me a little kick that the whole thing was set in Styria which is the name of a province in Austria… kind of made me feel like things were happening just around the corner. ;)]