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.
Author: Joe Abercrombie
Narrator: Steven Pacey
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group Limited
Series: First Law World #1
Running Time: 26hrs 28mins
My Rating of ‘Best Served Cold’: 5 out of 5
Ordinarily, I’m not one for novels that have a vengeance plotline as their backbone. Pretty much every time I have encountered it, whether that be book, comic, TV or film, it’s just felt too linear and predictable. That being said, I really felt I needed to read the series in-between The First Law and the Age of Madness. So I decided to push down my prejudices brought on by past experiences and left myself in Joe Abercrombie’s capable hands.
And this book delivered in ways I wasn’t expecting. Yea, it’s a vengeance-based plotline, but it has enough Joe Abercrombie twists and turns that you can’t call it linear or predictable. It feels like there’s a lot more going on than the simple ‘Murcatto wants to kill people in revenge for them betraying her’. This is mostly due to how well-fleshed out both the world is and the characters existing in it.
It features a host of memorable characters, some we have seen before (my reason for this review being short is that I don’t want to give spoilers as to who appears) and some we have not. All of them will go down as solid additions to the greater work that is the First Law World and the intricate stories being weaved throughout it.
As one would expect, it’s filled with characters you love, hate, like, despise, root for etc … so there’s something for everyone characterwise. It also boasts the same wonderful gritty realism and unique turns of phrase fans of Abercrombie’s books will have come to know and love.
As I’ve already said, this was so much more than a simple vengeance plot, and it feels like it’s done so much more to give life to interesting stories that the ‘main’ series might overlook or just not give air time to in general. I look forward to diving into the next books in this series.
As always, Steven Pacey’s narration was utterly flawless. It’s one of the few series that I would suggest someone listen to rather than read and that’s purely down to the mastery of Pacey’s narration.