Aug 13, 2009

YetiPreview: Best Served Cold

Here's a brief overview of the next book in my queue: Best Served Cold

Publisher’s Description: 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. Armies march, heads roll and cities burn, while 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 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 Northman 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.

Expectations: I ripped through 1,713 pages of Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy in about 3 weeks earlier this year. I read a lot but I don’t read that fast unless it’s really something special. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve enjoyed Abercrombie more than any epic fantasy author I’ve read in the past five years, perhaps ever. His characters are , violent, and incredibly addictive. The torturer Glotka and the barbarian Logen Ninefingers are a pair of most cold-hearted bastards I’ve ever read and Abercrombie writes them in a way that you can’t help but cheer them on. But Abercrombie is not a one trick pony. He’s not all character. He writes a better swordfight than any author I’ve ever read. When things get violent, and they often do, you feel like you are watching the action so closely you should be worried about the blood splatter. Abercrombie also has a natural gift for dialogue and poetic prose, managing to be hilarious, often darkly so, without being corny and connecting the thoughts and words of the characters to the action and plot in unexpected but brilliant ways. His fantasy world is also incredible. There a history and depth that lends itself to a bigger story, in which the main characters are but pawns. I can only imagine how the war between the Union and the Gurkish will play out on the plains of Styria.

If you can’t tell, I am a huge fan of Joe Abercrombie. That being said, I expect all this and more. In The First Law, Abercrombie built his sandbox, now it’s time for him to play in it.

Cover Art: I have a confession to make. I love the UK version of the cover so much that I had to order it from Book Depository LTD. (Not to mention the fact that the UK edition came out a month and a half earlier, but let's not focus on that...) Blood, money, land, and steel. Simple. Straightforward. No awkward character depictions to ruin that image in your head (unlike the US cover), no blurbs to distract the eye. This is an absolutely gorgeous cover, not to mention the meta-level commentary on the lack of maps in The First Law trilogy.

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