My review of Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie is up at SFSignal.
Set in the world of Abercrombie’s The First Law series, Best Served Cold has no sorcery like that series, but does turn some magic in making a seemingly ordinary revenge story into multiple interesting character studies wrapped in a few bloody messes. I was certain I had figured out the plot and ending multiple times, only to be pleasantly surprised by unpredictable characters…and not by convenient out of character jumps. Now where did I put the third book in The First Law series?
General Monzacarro Mercatto, the Butcher of Caprile, the Snake of Talins, victor in many battles, returns with her brother Benna to the castle of Duke Orso, who wants to be King of Styria. In minutes, her brother is slain and she is left for dead, by a Duke who is worried that she is becoming more popular than he, and will try to take his throne. Nursed back to health by an unknown savior, Monza vows revenge against the Duke and the six (including his sons) who helped in the betrayal.
To achieve said revenge, Monza surrounds herself by a motely but interesting crew:
- Friendly, the counting convict;
- Morveer, the misunderstood poisoner, and Day, his ever-eating female apprentice, who may be getting better than the master;
- Caul Shivers, the Northman (who knows the Bloody-Nine from the series) come to Styria to make himself “a better man”. Shivers makes an appearance in Before They Are Hanged, book two of The First Law (and don’t tell me if he’s in book three, it’s in my reading pile!);
- Vitari, the female torturer, who is also in Before They Are Hanged;
- General Cosca, who led the Thousand Swords before Monza, and became a drunk, drowning his past;
- Monzacarro Mercatto (sounds like a race car), the victim and revenge seeker…or is it the other way around?
Read the entire review (with comments about The First Law series) here.
SF Signal asked me to review Kevin J. Anderson’s forthcoming novel Enemies & Allies, The Dark Night meets the Man of Steel. My son Josh and I have been into Justice League and the rest of the DC and Marvel universes since he was born. So we turned this into a “joint dialog review”, with only a few age jokes and jabs (but no throwing of food).
You can see the review on the SF Signal Web Site.