I borrowed an audio copy of Joe Abercrombie‘s Best Served Cold from my local library.
Description from Goodreads:
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 and 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 employers’ 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.
I wasn’t thrilled with this, but I seriously suspect it’s just a style thing. The characters were pleasantly grey, some leaning more towards black even. The writing was good and the narrator (Michael Page) did a great job. I even liked how the author explored the pointlessness of revenge and randomness of death. Plus, that women had agency in the book. I see this far too rarely in fantasy. (I still think of this as fantasy, though there are almost no actual fantasy elements. That’s probably on me.)
However, I got bored with it. It’s a violent book (which I don’t have a problem with in general), but there were just so many descriptions of battles, fights, deaths, etc that it became a blur of sameness. Do I care that one person was drown and another stabbed? No, it’s all just another bloody death. And I’d say 2/3 of the book is just this.
Plus, I found the whole thing painfully predictable on the whole. You know from the very beginning no one is going to come to a good end. (And I don’t even consider that a spoiler, it’s so obvious). Yes, there was a character reveal or two I didn’t see coming. But in terms of plot, very easy to guess.
All in all, I finished this with a shrug and a “Meh.”