Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A vengeful mercenary seeks revenge on her former allies in this blood-soaked tale of betrayal and retribution.


In "Best Served Cold" by Joe Abercrombie, revenge takes center stage as the driving force behind the story. Set in the gritty and violent world of Abercrombie's "First Law" series, this standalone novel follows the journey of Monza Murcatto, a ruthless mercenary commander seeking vengeance against those who betrayed her.

Brief Synopsis

The story is set in Styria, a war-torn land filled with feuding city-states and political intrigue. Monza Murcatto, known as the "Snake of Talins," is a feared and respected mercenary commander. However, her rise to power is abruptly halted when she is betrayed by her employer, Grand Duke Orso. Left for dead, Monza survives but is left scarred both physically and emotionally.

Determined to exact her revenge, Monza assembles a motley crew of loyal and deadly individuals. Among them are Shivers, a former enemy-turned-ally, and Friendly, a master poisoner. Together, they embark on a blood-soaked journey, seeking vengeance against the seven people responsible for Monza's downfall.

Main Characters

Monza MurcattoA skilled and ruthless mercenary commander seeking revenge against those who betrayed her.
ShiversA former enemy of Monza who becomes her loyal ally in her quest for vengeance.
FriendlyA master poisoner and member of Monza's crew, known for his expertise in lethal concoctions.
Grand Duke OrsoThe powerful ruler who betrays Monza, setting the events of the novel into motion.

Summary of Story Points Over Chapters

Chapter 1-3: Betrayal and Survival

Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, is betrayed by Grand Duke Orso and left for dead. She survives, but her brother Benna is killed in the process. Monza swears vengeance and begins her quest to eliminate those responsible.

Chapter 4-6: Assembling the Crew

Monza recruits a diverse group of individuals to aid her in her revenge plot. Among them are Shivers, a former enemy turned ally; Friendly, a master poisoner; and Morveer, a cunning thief. Together, they form a deadly team.

Chapter 7-9: Targeting the First Betrayer

Monza and her crew set their sights on Mauthis, the first of the seven people she seeks to kill. They infiltrate his heavily guarded mansion and execute their plan, leaving Mauthis dead and Monza one step closer to her ultimate goal.

Chapter 10-12: Unraveling Secrets

As Monza continues her quest, she uncovers a web of secrets and hidden alliances. She learns that her revenge plot may have far-reaching consequences and that she cannot trust anyone, not even her own crew.

Chapter 13-15: Facing the Consequences

Monza faces the consequences of her actions as her crew members start to question her leadership. Betrayals and internal conflicts threaten to tear the group apart, forcing Monza to make difficult decisions to keep her vengeance on track.

Chapter 16-18: The Climactic Showdown

Monza's path of revenge leads her to confront Grand Duke Orso himself. In a bloody and brutal showdown, she finally faces the man who betrayed her. The outcome of their clash will determine the fate of Styria.

Main Events

  1. Monza's betrayal by Grand Duke Orso and her survival.
  2. Monza assembling a crew of loyal and deadly individuals.
  3. The assassination of Mauthis, the first of the seven betrayers.
  4. Unraveling secrets and hidden alliances that complicate Monza's revenge plot.
  5. Internal conflicts within Monza's crew threaten to derail her plans.
  6. The climactic showdown between Monza and Grand Duke Orso.

Themes and Insights

Revenge and its Consequences

The main theme of "Best Served Cold" is revenge and its far-reaching consequences. Monza's relentless pursuit of vengeance leads to a trail of bloodshed and destruction, affecting not only her targets but also those around her. The novel explores the moral complexities and personal sacrifices involved in seeking retribution.

Power and Politics

Set in the politically volatile world of Styria, the novel delves into the theme of power and politics. The characters maneuver through a treacherous landscape of shifting alliances, backstabbing, and manipulation. Abercrombie highlights the corrupting influence of power and the lengths individuals will go to obtain and maintain it.

Loyalty and Betrayal

The novel explores the themes of loyalty and betrayal through the relationships between the characters. Monza's crew members must grapple with their allegiance to her and question their own motives. The story showcases the fragile nature of trust and the consequences of betrayal.

Reader's Takeaway

"Best Served Cold" is a gripping tale of revenge, filled with complex characters and intense action. Abercrombie masterfully weaves a story of betrayal, power, and the consequences of seeking vengeance. Readers will be engrossed in the morally gray world of Styria and captivated by Monza's relentless pursuit of justice.


"Best Served Cold" by Joe Abercrombie is a thrilling and gritty standalone novel set in the violent world of the "First Law" series. The story follows Monza Murcatto's quest for revenge after being betrayed by Grand Duke Orso. With its engaging plot, memorable characters, and exploration of themes such as revenge, power, and loyalty, this book is sure to captivate readers who enjoy dark fantasy and morally ambiguous tales. Abercrombie's skillful storytelling and vivid world-building make "Best Served Cold" a must-read for fans of the genre.

Best Served Cold FAQ

  1. What is 'Best Served Cold' about?

    Best Served Cold is a standalone novel set in the same world as Joe Abercrombie's First Law Trilogy. It follows the story of Monza Murcatto, a feared and ruthless mercenary who seeks revenge against those who betrayed her.

  2. Do I need to read the First Law Trilogy before reading 'Best Served Cold'?

    While 'Best Served Cold' is set in the same world as the First Law Trilogy, it can be enjoyed as a standalone novel. However, reading the trilogy will provide you with a deeper understanding of the world and some of the characters that make appearances in 'Best Served Cold'.

  3. Is 'Best Served Cold' a fantasy book?

    Yes, 'Best Served Cold' falls under the fantasy genre. It features elements of epic fantasy, with a focus on political intrigue, revenge, and morally gray characters.

  4. Is 'Best Served Cold' suitable for young readers?

    No, 'Best Served Cold' is not suitable for young readers. It contains violence, explicit language, and adult themes.

  5. Who would enjoy reading 'Best Served Cold'?

    Fans of dark and gritty fantasy novels, especially those who enjoyed Joe Abercrombie's First Law Trilogy, will likely enjoy 'Best Served Cold'. It is also recommended for readers who appreciate complex characters and intricate plotlines.

  6. Is 'Best Served Cold' a sequel to the First Law Trilogy?

    'Best Served Cold' is not a direct sequel to the First Law Trilogy. It is a standalone novel that takes place in the same world and shares some connections with the events of the trilogy.

  7. Is there magic in 'Best Served Cold'?

    While magic exists in the world of 'Best Served Cold', it plays a relatively minor role compared to the focus on politics, warfare, and character-driven narratives.

  8. How would you describe the writing style of 'Best Served Cold'?

    'Best Served Cold' features Joe Abercrombie's signature gritty and dark writing style. It is known for its realistic and flawed characters, violent scenes, and skillful storytelling.

  9. Is 'Best Served Cold' part of a series?

    No, 'Best Served Cold' is a standalone novel. However, it is set within the same world as Joe Abercrombie's First Law Trilogy and other standalone books, offering readers a chance to explore a larger interconnected universe.

  10. Are there any recurring characters from the First Law Trilogy in 'Best Served Cold'?

    Yes, 'Best Served Cold' features appearances and references to some characters from the First Law Trilogy. However, it primarily focuses on new characters and their own personal stories.