“Mercy is the same as cowardice”
And that, as a theme throughout the book, speaks of what to expect in Joe Abercrombie’s first story in the epic fantasy trilogy beginning with “Best Served Cold” where we have a lady lead character, Monza, seeking revenge for the death of her brother, Benna.
And no, all is not what it seems. This book is rich in character, rich in the grimdark fantasy Abercrombie is famous for, richer for all the blood and fighting scenes. Loved it. I have to say, Joe Abercrombie’s writing is becomming some of my favourite. So darkly vivid and immersive. His works are almost a ‘go to’ if I need something solid to read that I know I’ll enjoy no matter what.
Having said that, I still think the first trilogy (The Blade Itself) in this fantasy world he’d created was slightly better. Logan Nine-fingers will always be one of my favourite all-time characters.
In this book, I much preferred ‘Shivers’ than the lead character; he was darker and had a better depth to him as he was trying to be a better man, whereas Monza was simply seeking revenge against those who wronged her/her brother.
Unfortunately, the one sex scene we did get between Shivers and Monza – well…it was clearly written by a man who was trying to write such a scene from a female perspective and didn’t quite get there in a satisfying way. It was good, don’t get me wrong. But not up to the rest of the standard of the writing, I felt. Yes, folks, contrary to what you may think, sex scenes are very important in (adult) books because they can add to character perfectly. The one Joe wrote did that, as it set up things to follow nicely (no spoilers). Just fell flat a bit for me.
And at least he didn’t write ‘her silk purse held his pork sword nicely within its cavernous depths’ or equally cringe-y things like that. At least the sex he wrote was raw and gritty, just lacked some emotion. After all, after some 600 pages these two finally got it on, you’d have thought there would have at lease been a smile.
I will certainly be reading the next in this trilogy “The Heroes” because we return to the north and more grim-darkness. How delicious!