Jul 23, 2010

Best Served Cold, by Joe Abercrombie

This isn't a very good book. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this is a bad book. Contrived, graphic, and filled with unlikable and irredeemable characters, if you like books that are at all satisfying, I suggest you avoid this one.

Most distasteful is the graphic violence and sex scenes. Reading the description of the main character's mangled body (particularly her hands) after being assaulted and thrown off a mountain made me nauseous. Perhaps this could be taken as an example of Abercrombie's vast descriptive powers; but really, who wants to read that? The secondary character, one Caul Shivers, leads us to hope there here is someone who wants to find himself, and who desperately wants to be a good person. Turn out, Caul does find himself - he just finds that he is a terrible person who is good at only one thing, killing people. Lovely, that.

The fight scenes are exciting and well written, yes, but the one person/fighter who actually causes the reader to sit up and take notice (the man hired to track Monza, the main character, down), is in the book only briefly, and his character and circumstances are never explained. A book about him would have been work the read, but Monza is disgusting, incestuous, depraved, monstrous. There is nothing good or interesting about her. She hardly ever feels badly about what she's done, and then on the few occasions that she does, she simply shrugs it off and seems to say, "oh well, that's done, can't undo it, might as well embrace it." From my experience, readers want characters who change, evolve, be it for better or worse. Monza at the end of this exhausting book is just as terrible and distasteful as Monza at the beginning. This is not a book I would recommend to anyone hoping for well-written fantasy literature.