Best Served Cold

“Joe Abercrombie’s Best Served Cold is a bloody and relentless epic of vengeance
and obsession in the grand tradition, a kind of splatterpunk sword ‘n sorcery …
This is his best book yet.”
George R. R. Martin, author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series

A Stand-Alone Novel Set in the World of The First Law

Revenge is a dish best served cold.” – Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

Best Served Cold, UK PaperbackSpringtime 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.

Her allies include Styria’s least reliable drunkard, Styria’s most treacherous poisoner, a mass-murderer obsessed with numbers and a barbarian who just wants to do the right thing. Her enemies number the better half of the nation. And that’s all before the most dangerous man in the world is dispatched to hunt her down and finish the job Duke Orso started…

Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge.

Book Details

UK / ANZ Print
Publisher: Gollancz
Date: (First Published in Hardcover, June 2009)
ISBN: 9780575127753
Format: Medium (B-format) Paperback
R.R.P.: £8.99 / $AUS22.99

North American Print
Publisher: Orbit
ISBN: 9780316198356
Format: Large (Trade) Paperback
R.R.P.: US$16.00

North American Limited Edition
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Format: 500 Signed Hardcover / 26 Leatherbound Traycase

Publisher: Gollancz (UK) / Orbit (US)
ISBN: 9780575088160 / 9780316079082

Publisher: Orion Audio
ISBN: 9781409132615

German Edition
Publisher: Heyne (

Spanish Edition
Publisher: Alianza Editorial (

French Edition
Publisher: Bragelonne (

Cover Gallery

US PaperbackUK Paperback Alt coverAudio EditionUS Limited Edition HardcoverGerman EditionSpanish EditionFrench Edition

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Buying Info

UK Print & Ebook | Book Depository | Hive | Waterstones | WHSmith

North American Print & Ebook | | |

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Best Served Cold

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Reviews and Plaudits

“Joe Abercrombie’s Best Served Cold is a bloody and relentless epic of vengeance and obsession in the grand tradition, a kind of splatterpunk sword ‘n sorcery Count of Monte Cristo, Dumas by way of Moorcock. His cast features tyrants and torturers, a pair of poisoners, a serial killer, a treacherous drunk, a red-handed warrior and a blood-soaked mercenary captain. And those are the good guys … The battles are vivid and visceral, the action brutal, the pace headlong, and Abercrombie piles the betrayals, reversals, and plot twists one atop another to keep us guessing how it will all come out. This is his best book yet.”
George R. R. Martin, author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series

“Abercrombie returns to the blood-drenched arena of the First Law trilogy with this skillfully crafted and bleakly humorous sword and sorcery adventure … 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.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Abercrombie writes dark, adult fantasy, by which I mean there’s a lot of stabbing in it, and after people stab each other they sometimes have sex with each other. His tone is morbid and funny and hard-boiled, not wholly dissimilar to that of Iain Banks … And like George R. R. Martin Abercrombie has the will and the cruelty to actually kill and maim his characters … Volumetrically speaking, it’s hard to think of another fantasy novel in which this much blood gets spilled.”
Lev Grossman, for Time Magazine

“Joe Abercrombie is probably the brightest star among the new generation of British fantasy writers … Abercrombie writes a vivid, well-paced tale that never loosens its grip. His action scenes are cinematic in the best sense, and the characters are all distinct and interestingly different.”
Lisa Tuttle, for The Times

“Overall this is an immediately rewarding experience. There are 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.”
– Dave Bradley, SFX Magazine

“We can’t say enough good words about Joe Abercrombie’s latest addition to the genre … 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.”
Sci-Fi Now

“There’s enough wit, pace, and élan in Best Served Cold to entertain the most rabid anti-fantasist … this is the highest grade of adult, commercial fantasy that we have seen for quite a while.”
Guy Haley, for Death Ray Magazine

Best Served Cold is an excellent tale of murder and vengeance … If you are one of those poor drifting souls who have yet to give Joe Abercrombie a shot, Best Served Cold is your opportunity to get acquainted with the author’s style. For fans of Abercrombie, it will scratch that itch and more. Hard to put down.”
Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist

“The whole is peppered by turns with gut-wrenching violence, nasty, visceral and real and the banter is interspersed with a terrific black humour, the kind that only people for whom dealing out death has become a mundane necessity can really carry off. The pacing throughout is excellent, the language beautifully crafted and, while I guessed the outcome of a couple of the story segments, there’s one hell of good twist right near the end that I defy anybody to have seen coming!”
– Rob Grant, Sci-Fi London

“Harsh language, unrelenting violence and flawed or broken characters are derigueur in Abercrombie’s bleak fantasy world. However, it’s the deft humour, the bruised wisdom and the entirely l ikeable (but no less treacherous, lethal, selfish and proud) characters that really keep the pages turning … Fans of Abercrombie’s work will not be disappointed by his latest offering, which features all his usual hallmarks: cold steel, black comedy, fully realised characters and internecine struggles, both personal and epic.”
– Den Patrick, Dreamwatch

“The story is gripping and compulsive, the humour is blacker than midnight, the prose is a notable step up from the already-enjoyable First Law (although the gloriously terrible sex scenes remain intact) and the characters massively conflicted. There are more enormous battles and some even bigger, eye-raising twists than those from the end of the prior trilogy … if you like your books gritty, dark, funny and violent, than I can recommend this book without hesitation.”
The Wertzone

“Abercrombie is a master at twisting expectations, and the familiar setup soon heads towards some very uncomfortable territory. There’s violence enough for all, and some battle and siege setpieces to rival anything in the trilogy, but as usual, it’s the character interactions that are the highlight … I imagine that Best Served Cold is on a lot of people’s Most Wanted lists for 2009 – well, you’ve not long to wait now, and you’re in for a real treat.”
Sandstorm Reviews

Best Served Cold was sat fairly high on my Most Anticipated Books of 2009 list, now it’s firmly on my Favourite Books of 2009 List. Read it.”
Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review

“The long journey chronicled in Best Served Cold isn’t an easy one, neither for readers nor the anti-heroes at its pounding black heart, but late in the game, Abercombie’s return to Styria reveals itself as an epic and exciting revenge thriller utterly true to its own unflinching, if unconventional moral code.”
– Niall Harrison, The Speculative Scotsman

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