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Best Served Cold

Narrated by: Steven Pacey
Series: First Law World, Book 1
Length: 26 hrs and 28 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (479 ratings)

Non-member price: $37.98

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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2010 Joe Abercrombie (P)2010 Orion Publishing Group Limited

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Wow! What an awesome read!👍

I really can't believe how great Abercrombie is! Every time I finish another of his books, I'm amazed time & again how good they keep being. So far they've kept me fully sucked in to the very end, where I think heck yeah that's his best yet! So when I get that feeling every time with him i know that I'm experiencing something great. His character's have such individual richness that they really leep right off the page! Cosca had me bursting out laughing on a packed bus without me even realizing it!
Thd 1st trilogy definitely has to be read 1st though. I'd rsad few reviews saying that the last 3 could be read independently, however I strongly recommend that u read the 1st trilogy 1st as some characters stay in the series with the time line flowing smoothly along. I'm now on book 5 The Heroes.
So far it feels like book 5 was best, but I think that's because it's a great story that just gets better.

6 people found this helpful

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Gruesome and brilliant

If you love the first law books, you'll love this. true to form, a great story following a few old favourites from the original trilogy

4 people found this helpful

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Yes! Yes! Yes! More of The First Law!

Having lived through the First Law trilogy audiobooks (and the audiobooks really make you feel like you have lived through them), I desperately wanted more. Then I discovered there were three standalone books set in the same world and my life was complete again!

This is the first of the three standalones and picks up with the same Abrecrombie themes and characters and Pacey voices and delivery that made the First Law series unmissable! This one does not disappoint, with the introduction of some new main characters and the return of some of the old, but none any less interesting, unpredictable and entertaining.

You really must listen to the First Law trilogy first before starting this one.

If you want more reasons to listen to this audiobook, please see my review below of The Blade Itself:

These books are far and away my favourite Audiobooks, and I have listened to some excellent ones such as Red Rising, The Name of the Wind, A Game of Thrones, The Way of Kings, The Lies of Locke Lamora, Harry Potter, etc.

The reason they are so good is the combination of Joe Abercrombie (author) and Steven Pacey (narrator). You couldn't get a better pairing.

Joe creates characters that are real, with heroic and flawed traits, that result in never quite knowing what they are going to do, but leave you hanging to see just what they are going to do. Add to that the very entertaining humour interspersed throughout, the catchy little favourite sayings of the characters, gripping fight scenes, dark deeds, intricate plots and you have the foundation for a thoroughly enjoyable read.

However, my recommendation is not read these books (sorry Joe!), but to listen to the Audiobooks. And the reason for that is Steven Pacey.

This is a phenomenal narrative by Steven Pacey that is so perfectly matched to the book and the characters you could not imagine one without the other. This is not an audiobook, this is an audio theatre so masterful is his performance. He brings each character to life and sucks you into the story so that when it finishes you want to dive straight into the next one.

2 people found this helpful

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The best voice in the business

Honestly, Steven Pacey reading Joe Abercrombie is one of life’s rare treats. Story wise, the Blade Itself trilogy was a better ride, but this is very close!

Money well spent!

2 people found this helpful

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Very good, maybe slightly too long

This is one of those books you really need to take a couple of days break every 10 hours or so. Joe Abercrombie is a great writer and this story was very well done. I felt like it was a bit drawn out though so it’s not quite a 5/5.

Otherwise, great characters, great motivations and really interesting storyline.

1 person found this helpful

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Lighter and funnier than the first 3books.

Great, memorable characters.
The tone is somewhat lighter that preceding books, but just as bloody... somehow.

1 person found this helpful

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Sweet Revenge

Absolutely fantastic reading once again b. Steven Pacey, truely brings the characters to you in a personal way. The man is a master storyteller.
The book is another great work by Mr. Joe Abercrombie. gritty, bold, bloodthirsty and brutal. this cutthroat piece of fiction will keep a smile on your face while you follow along and join the characters to find revenge styrian style

1 person found this helpful

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10/10 Great, Self Contained Book

Really well paced, well characterised, perfect balance of action and emotional intensity. Would recommend to anyone, no need to have read his other books first.

1 person found this helpful

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Favorite one sofar

Has to be one of my favorites books now. Joe Abercrombie spins a good story. This is the 4th I have read following the sword itself series and I loved it. I was worried I wouldn't get along with the characters and that a story of revenge would be boring but I was pleasantly surprised the entire way.

1 person found this helpful

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too much blood and guts

interesting story but the violence becomes boring and gets in the way of the story

1 person found this helpful

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  • Zati
  • 28-04-2014

Fun and Twisted

At this point, I think it's a safe bet that I will enjoy anything read by Steven Pacey. And I honestly think Joe Abercrombie gets better with every book. Very very addictive.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Nathan
  • 14-04-2013

Great from start to finish

A great new cast of characters along with some familiar names. Things kick off right from the start and keep pace righ to the end. Great characters, well developed and in Abercrombies style often put to beffitting or undeserved ends.

Once again Steven Pacey puts in a flawless performance, every character unique and he hits every whispered, whimppered, croaked, shouted and stranggled line without fail.

3 people found this helpful

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  • lowfat
  • 26-01-2013

11ty times better than the Michael Page version.

Which character – as performed by Steven Pacey – was your favorite?

All of them. Shame this version wasn't available first. Steven Pacey narrates so significantly better than Michael Page it ain't even funny.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Marcus
  • 20-03-2019

Great narrator. Awful book.

Really struggled with this one. Between Unlikeable characters and a predictable story full of deus ex machina, there's really only one thing to enjoy and that's the narrator doing his damndest to breathe some life into this mess.

Steer clear.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • matty
  • 18-04-2011

Delicious

Another triumph by the best current writer of epic fantasy. From the first page Joe Abercrombie's Best Served Cold is a deliciously sordid tale of revenge, murder, cowardice, triumph and trial.

The narrative is pacey and very well constructed. The scenes each build upon each other as the book progresses. The book is also on funny. There are many moments when you can't help but laugh (and then feel guilty for laughing).

The main characters are each triumphant yet flawed; dogged yet weak; hateful yet at the same time likeable. Although none of the characters are typically heroic, you can't help but sympathise with them, notwithstanding how despicable they can be.

Michael Page is excellent.

One of my top 10 audiobooks of the last 12 months. The book caused me to laugh, sympathise, despise the violence, root for the under dog, hate the hero whilst at the same time willing her to victory...a simply delicious book.

2 people found this helpful

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  • PuckerFactor
  • 06-09-2018

Steven Pacey is now my favourite narrator

Another great book by Joe Abercrombie. Steven Pacey has made it hard for me to enjoy similar books in this genre by other narrators. He isn't just narrating, he is acting out these characters with a wide range of emotions and regional dialects and accents. He is absolutely amazing. It was interesting to get some of the minor characters from the First Law trilogy becoming some of the major characters in this story...a great story of revenge with some exciting capers.

1 person found this helpful

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  • NielsToft
  • 06-08-2018

Absolutely riveting. Paceys narration is masterful

Abercrombies world is dark, humorous and fascinating. I find myself mumbling quotes under my breath. Brilliant.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Aditi
  • 29-05-2018

Steven Pacey's performance is amazing!!!

Steven Pacey makes me feel like I'm really there. It's rare to have a voice actor with such skill and delivery; he really makes the characters come alive. It of course helps a lot that the book is written by the talented Joe Abercrombie.
5/5 Highly recommended for listeners able to deal with violence (not for the faint hearted).

1 person found this helpful

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  • John M
  • 18-03-2013

Another excellent story from Joe Abercrombie

Steven Pacey is an outstanding narrator who gives life to Abercrombie's colourful characters. Its a dark tale of revenge with many excellent Abercombie twists. Things often don't go the way you might expect.

Favourite character the swashbuckling Koska who always sees the humorous side. Another well crafted, intriguing but despicable character is the Poisoner Morvia. All of the characters are flawed but it makes them all the more interesting.

I listened to the "First Law" prior to this and enjoyed it. "Best Served Cold" is also excellent.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Karen
  • 08-08-2012

not for all tastes

Found this book a bit too gruesome for myself. The underlying story is quite interesting for the more hardened listeners.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Stuart
  • 08-02-2013

Low down dirty double crossing ...

Steven Pacey! Steven Pacey! Steven Pacey!



I really enjoyed this, even more than the First Law Trilogy. The book has a great depth of characters, and the narrator brings these to life wonderfully. It's a great combination of a well written book and first class narration.



I recently reviewed The Painted Man (different author) and I wasn't kind to it, because I had no empathy for the characters and ultimately didn’t care what happened to them. In this book most of the characters are low down dirty double crossing villains, but you can't help enjoy them. The reason you warm to them is they aren't just plain bad, they have some depth to them and complexity. Joe Abercrombie has a wonderful way of building a story and getting you to care for the type character that most other authors would have cast as the villain. His world isn't black and white, there are people who just seem to get drawn into bad things … as well as those who just relish it.



The references to the First Law Trilogy were excellent and some of the characters from that appear and get expanded upon. A word of warning though - prepared for dark deeds, dark humour and a couple of occasions where you feel like you might lose your lunch.



Fantastic stuff

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Gavin
  • 21-01-2012

New recording

This book was originally sold with a change of narrator from the First Law books however the publisher has taken note and re-recorded this title and the following book with Steven Pacey. If you bought this with the other narrator you can re-download the title and it will be the new version with Steven Pacey. Excellant news given his brilliant performance.

25 people found this helpful

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  • Christopher
  • 10-02-2014

Excellent follow-on from the first law trilogy

Joe Abercombie just keeps getting better and better.

Story – 5/5

Joe Abercrombie has managed to get all of the elements of this novel perfect. His character development and sharp whit is still definitely his strongest point, but this time the story has a very fast pace, for those readers who complained about the story progression in ‘The Blade Itself'

As the title suggests, it is a revenge plot story. But there isn’t only the main story arc, there are also a few smaller intertwined stories of revenge throughout, and it is done extremely smoothly. What I especially loved about this novel was how he took a couple of the minor characters from his first law trilogy that we weren’t too bothered about, and developed them into very likeable and interesting characters. This is a standalone novel though, so don’t be put off if you haven’t read the preceding books.

Another thing I love about Joe Abercrombie’s novels, is how he spends about 1 hour after the “big ending” to set a picture of how the story will continue. This not only gives a better impression of an epic world, of which this is a small story within, but it also prolongs the enjoyment of the story by making the reader think about it after finishing.

Performance – 5/5

Steven Pacey is one of the best narrators out there. His character acting was flawless, each having a distinctive and believable voice. His narration enhanced the dark comedy and whit of Joe Abercrombie’s writing, and I felt myself absorbed into the action scenes/battles.

Music/sound effects between scenes/chapters was a nice touch as well, although it would have been nicer to not re-use previous sound effects.

Overall – 5/5

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr Gerard A Twomey
  • 15-03-2012

delightfully vicious

I loved the First Law series, and I think of this as a straight continuation into The Heroes. Steven Pacey's visceral reading brings this brilliant, fresh fantasy book to life with vivid sardonic character, and the book itself has a satisfying pace with lots of notches on the narrative axe. Because it is a complete story within one book I liked this the best of all the Joe Abercrombie series, but it is certainly richer reading them all in order, starting with The Blade Itself. It's satisfying to see minor characters from one book developed in later volumes, and it seems to me that this is a hallmark of Joe Abercrombie's writing - a mastery of point of view. I consider these books a real milestone in fantasy literature, and dare I say it, a bit better than Game of Thrones?

14 people found this helpful

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  • Bob
  • 22-09-2015

Rip Roaring Fun

Any additional comments?
I had already read Abercrombie's First Law Trilogy and enjoyed them greatly, so I thought that I roughly knew what to expect from Best Served Cold but I was wrong. Yes there were strong men, fighting and a certain crudeness that runs throughout the book however in this novel, Abercrombie has really cranked up the humour and it's hilarious. I have previously complained about novels with no real characters in them - not here. This novel is full of people I would love to go drinking with (as long as they promised not to kill me). The poisoner, the mercenary, even Shivers, Mercato and the short lived King... all great characters the jealously, bickering, japing and interplay between them all is truly first class writing. If you liked the First Law Series you will love this, in about 20 hours of Audio, all but the last hour and a half, where the story is wrapped up is an absolute joy-ride, give this book to anybody who thinks that Audiobooks are boring.

In addition technically, Steven Pacey's Narration is as good as I've ever heard, no mumbled or lost words, individual characters with their own accents and intonations. Brilliant.

3 people found this helpful

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  • mike
  • 01-04-2014

Abercrombie + Pacey = Win!

Would you listen to Best Served Cold again? Why?

Yes. Performance by Pacey is amazing, he does justice to the gritty dialogue

What was one of the most memorable moments of Best Served Cold?

Relationship between drug addled monza and shivers

Which character – as performed by Steven Pacey – was your favourite?

Shivers

Any additional comments?

Other narrators should study Pacey. Have listened to several audiobooks before and never heard any other performance even come close to the same quality. He is consistent with the voices but he goes beyond that and builds a character and speech mannerisms.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Simon
  • 08-01-2018

Pacey and Abercrombie, Purveyors of the Finest!

Best Served Cold indeed! As I said in my review of the First Law series I was going to leave these a while and now that I have what an absolute treat it is. If you take the words of Abercrombie and get Steven Pacey to give voice to them then you have pure audio gold. This is among the very finest audiobooks I have ever read.

Abercrombie takes some of the lesser characters from the fabulous First Law series and tells their story keeping the world itself alive. This is a tale of revenge and all of his characters are massively three-dimensional. A distinct part of his art is actually making you fall in love with characters who are driven by baser instincts. Somehow he instills a nobility into some of them making them real contradictions.

It's brilliant stuff and the homespun philosophy of some of them coupled with the delicious irony and sarcasm is a heady mix. The whole thing is a fast-moving cocktail of dark humour, cunning plans, strong violence and gore all set in a colourful world of vivid hues. And once again Abercrombie demonstrates his ability to write the most incredible, quotes, romantic scenes in literature . . .

Of course all of this could be brought somewhat down to Earth with a bad choice of narrator. But cometh the book cometh the narrator. Steven Pacey is so absolutely perfect for this it's almost like divine intervention must have brought these two together. He's a fabulous voice actor and you only have to look at what happened to the ratings in the Department Q series after he was dropped and read the reviews to see how important he can be. In these books the dialogue and character thoughts are absolutely key and he delivers them with absolute aplomb.

So, if you want to experience fantasy genre audio of the highest quality start with the First Law series and when you're ready take this one out of the fridge nice and cold. It's delicious.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Tyson
  • 08-11-2019

Great setting but slow plotline

This book is actionpacked but nevertheless the plot does not move along fast enough.
Which got me bored after a while, its basically all the same throughout.

The characters make weird decisions just for the sake of action and it all feels very one-dimensional.
I would guess you could tell this same story in half the time, and add more suspense.

Great performance of the narrator

2 people found this helpful

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  • C. B. Walker
  • 07-02-2020

Gritty Story

Book for adults. Gritty, real, and bloody. A tad depressing at times but hey that’s life. If you want cheery, and uplifting probably not for you. Glad I listened to it though, it was a breath of fresh air, blood tainted fresh air that is. Enjoy.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Tuke
  • 12-03-2016

A band of dispicibles

This is my first Abercrombie; a tale of a band of (anti)heroes fulfilling the revenge of the protagonist. I thought I'd try Abacrombie because I was told he 'does characters like nobody else' and I suppose he is quite good at developing a rich and varied cast. I did get a bit irritated in this very 'in vogue' idea that all your heroes should have such a nasty and anti-heroic side to them in a terrible world void of good or hope. Of course we want flaws, someone who sweeps the board too easily is pretty boring, however, Abercrombie's approach is so much the opposite that you feel it's being slightly forced down your throat. I would say in it's favour, though, that it was a very memorable story because of this approach.

I did enjoy the story, and I was kept listening to the end with an interest in how this motley crew of unlikeables would triumph... but I did leave quite substantial gaps between listens which suggests to me that I wasn't quite as hooked as I usually am with this kind of tale.

The reading was quite excellent. The characters were superbly differentiated and I particularly liked his 'poisoner' voice.

1 person found this helpful