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As you know, I was bitterly disappointed when Satalyte shut up shop as it might have meant the end of my admittedly short career as a publi...

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I am a writer, editor, reviewer and dance teacher based in Perth, Western Australia.

My books

The first novel of my trilogy, The Talismans, is available as e-books from Smashwords, Amazon and other online sellers. I do have paperbacks of The Dagger of Dresnia at the low price of $AU25 including postage within Australia. I also have a short story, 'La Belle Dame', in print - see Mythic Resonance below. Book two of the trilogy, The Cloak of Challiver, will be available again shortly. The best way to contact me is via Facebook!

Buy The Talismans

The first two books of The Talismans trilogy were published by Satalyte Publications, which, sadly, has gone out of business. I hope to see my books back on Amazon under a new publisher in the near future.

The Dagger of Dresnia

The Dagger of Dresnia
Want a copy? Contact me at satimafn(at)gmail.com

The Cloak of Challiver

The Cloak of Challiver
Available again as an ebook soon!

Mythic Resonance

Buy Mythic Resonance

Mythic Resonance is an excellent anthology that includes my short story 'La Belle Dame', together with great stories from Alan Baxter, Donna Maree Hanson, Sue Burstynski, Nike Sulway and nine more fantastic authors! Just $US3.99 from Amazon. Got a Kindle? Check out Mythic Resonance.

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Places I've lived: Manchester, UK

Places I've lived: Manchester, UK

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Places I've lived: Tamworth, NSW

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Sydney Conservatorium - my old school

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Places I've lived: Auckland, NZ

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Places I've lived: Adelaide, SA

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Places I've lived: High View, WV

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Places I've lived: Lynton, Devon, UK

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Places I've lived: Braemar, Scotland

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Places I've lived: Barre, MA, USA

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Sunday, 7 April 2013

Book review - Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie


This is another review that first appeared on the late lamented Specusphere, this one in cahoots with my old crit buddy Ian Banks - not the Scottish one, the Western Australian one who only has one i.


Best Served Cold takes place a few years after Abercrombie’s breakout trilogy, The First Law. It involves a few subsidiary characters and features one or two memorable cameos from people we got to know in that series, but it is a stand-alone volume.

It is the story of Monza Murcatto, a mercenary captain who has schemed her way to the top of her profession and into the confidences of her employer, Duke Orso, who has been using her to expand his interests. Unfortunately, though, she appears to be too popular with the masses for Orso, so he arranges to have her and her brother murdered. Monza survives the murder attempt and plots avenge her brother’s death by killing all the men who took part.
She begins by recruiting agents to her cause and assembles a wild bunch indeed. There’s the disaffected Northman, Caul Shivers, who just wants to be better than he is; Friendly, the convict savant who loves numbers; Morveer the poisoner and his assistant, Day; and several other colourful and well-drawn characters.

The story doesn’t follow the epic pattern established in The First Law but plays out more like a western, with Monza assembling her team, seeking out information, uncovering a wider scheme in which her revenge is only one factor in a greater fight, and then building to a bloody and unbelievable climax in which it seems that she may have taken on a job that even her ruthless nature cannot stomach.

This is great read: it sprawls across countries and cultures, with memorable characters and some great scenes and, as expected with Abercrombie, fantastic dialogue. He also raises a lot of questions about the nature of revenge and of nobility which make this quite a meaty story. In many ways it’s an easier read than the First Law Trilogy, because there in only one plot and one set of characters who interact in various ways as they swap allegiance or interact with minor characters.

All this more than makes up for the shortcomings of this novel, such as they are. Fans of The First Law will enjoy meeting some old friends and revisiting some places around the Circle and Azure Seas. Mention is made of the greater, shadowy conflict that served as the basis for the denouement of that earlier series, but newcomers may find it all a little confusing when the story delves into that realm if they haven’t either read the earlier books. Also, some of the scenes seem a little too over-the-top when you play them on the large-screen television inside your skull. There is one in which the team has to cross from one tall building to another by hitching along by clinging under a rope with hands and feet. The resultant misadventures, both real and imagined, would make either a terrifying dark horror movie or a screamingly funny slapstick, depending on how it was played. 

Abercrombie has also, perhaps, gone overboard with the sex, violence and bad language: more than one reader has given up on Best Served Cold because of these. In the earlier trilogy these elements fitted seamlessly into the plot: in this book they sometimes appear gratuitous. It could well be, also, that some readers will be annoyed by the little tricks Abercrombie plays, especially in the last third of the book. He leads us to believe certain things are happening or have happened, and then a few chapters later more or less says 'Hah! Fooled you!'

But these are small flaws when put against what is on offer here: a revenge thriller with great characters and snarky dialogue. If you enjoyed Abercrombie’s earlier books, you will find much to savour here. If you’ve also enjoyed The Good, the Bad And the Ugly and any kind of vengeance story in which the payoff may be more than the characters are willing to come at, you will have a ball with this.

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