Best Served Cold, read by Steven Pacey

January 5th, 2012

Audiobooks, folks, audiobooks.  Time was they were a real niche product, the preserve of long distance hauliers, sleepless children and the blind, but with the arrival of mp3 playing phones and digital downloads, they’re becoming a central part of the market no author can afford to ignore.

Due to peculiarities of the way rights were divided, Best Served Cold was actually my first book to be recorded as an audiobook, and it was done in the US, read by Michael Page.  The Heroes was wrapped into that deal.  It wasn’t until some time after that we got round to doing audiobooks of The First Law trilogy, this time in the UK, read by Steven Pacey.  I actually went along to some of the recording, expecting to be somewhat embarrassed, and was very, very impressed by what he brought to it.  I’ve heard plenty of criticism of the books in my time, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything but praise for Pacey’s reading.  He is good, versatile, and very well suited to the task.  So for some time I’ve been keen to get him to read Best Served Cold and The Heroes in the same style that we might present a consistent feel across all my books and lo!  Let lovers of high quality audiobooks rejoice, for it has come to pass:

Best Served Cold is available now on  A Pacey-narrated The Heroes will, I understand, be following in due course, more information as I receive it.  Now, hating to crush the dreams of those across the pond, but this version won’t be available in the US, where the audiobooks on offer will continue to be the Page versions, at least for the foreseeable future.  I know it’s always a source of frustration when something freely available in one territory isn’t in another, but that’s just how the rights cookie crumbles in this case.

Posted in news by Joe Abercrombie on January 5th, 2012.

37 comments so far

  • Snark says:

    …freely available in one territory isn’t in another…

    It’ll still be freely available everywhere, you (and the other people who worked on it) just won’t get paid any money for copies distributed in the US. Sadly (and I really do think it is sad), that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

    And to maybe add something productive: which of these versions will be in the extended ebook edition? May the inclusion of both perhaps be the way around marketing restrictions and make it possible for US customers to obtain this recording legally?

  • Snark says:

    …and in the above I meant the extended ebook edition of “The Heroes” of course (seeing as you said that a recording of that book was to follow in due course).

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Most people who worked on it will have been paid already, but as to me getting paid, I can only sadly agree with you.

    On the enhanced ebook edition, I’m not sure. That too is mired in rights issues and the interminable difficulties of getting anything related to e-books properly packaged and formatted…

  • mike says:

    Well, well, well Joe you are busy this week. Look at all these post your spoiling us 🙂

  • Paul says:

    As one of the “Pond”ers that commutes 1 hour each way, it would be nice to get a version read by Pacey, but I don’t know if I would re-listen to it even if I got it. It would be great for first timers though. And future books should be Pacey no questions asked.

    My wife and I listened to them in book publish order, and we were disappointed with Page, but only because we were spoiled by Pacey. When Heroes was also Page, we had given up getting Pacey back.

  • Michael says:

    Ah indeed, excellent news and a good start to the new year! As I have a couple of credits, it is downloading as we speak.

    Steven Pacey has done a mighty fine job with your material Joe, to the extent that I would have been reticent to acquire BSC and Heroes read by the other chap.

    And to anyone out there who isn’t on the audiobook plan, get yourselves signed up, or head down to your local library and borrow one. Might change your listening habits for life.

  • James says:

    Stephen Pacey reading this made me wonder this question.

    Who’s the most cynical?

    Inquisitor Glokta or Avon from Blake’s 7?

    It’s got to be a close run thing.

  • Katie says:

    I read your books then recommened them to my husband, who then read (is that the right verb?) the audio book versions. We both LOVED your books (print and audio) and eagerly await more!

  • DH says:

    This is great news. I started reading the books instead of listening when I found out there was another narrator for BSC. Pacey is really something special and I didn’t want someone else. This will be perfect for a re-read. (and hopefully it’s available in the Swedish region on Audible…)

  • TimH says:

    There’s no doubt that Steven Pacey did an outstanding job narrating the First Law trilogy. But, I’m a bit surprised to see a couple comments knocking Michael Page’s narration of BSC and the Heroes. It’s actually kind of odd because there’s really only one character that sounds “different” – Bayaz. I prefer Pacey’s version for him. But the characters that made Pacey stand out so much in First Law – Glokta, Logen, Jezal, and Ferro – don’t appear in BSC or The Heroes anyway.

    Page’s voice for Shivers and Nicomo Cosca in BSC was fantastic. Much better than Pacey’s version of them in First Law (though they had small parts therein). I also really liked Page’s Curden Craw, Prince Calder, Finree, and Stranger-Come-Knocking in The Heroes among several other lesser characters. I really thought he did a fantastic job with the reading in general, notably better than several other audiobook narrators I have encountered. Page also did a fine job with Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora.

    Anyway, let’s not be too hasty to dismiss Page’s excellent work as inferior.

    That said, if Glokta and Logen appear in future books, I’d prefer Pacey’s version if I had to make a choice. Anything you can do to help influence this Joe?

  • Mark C says:

    Would it be possible for you to put a couple of samples of the audio up on this site? Or a couple of links?

    Mark C

  • Jordan says:

    Only done the audio versions of your books. Listened to all of them in order. It was a bit of a hiccup switching from Pacey to Page, but, since none of the same pov’s appear across the trilogy and standalones, it didn’t rankle too much to change narrators. Generally, I’d go with Pacey. However, I do think Page does a better Costa (spelling might be off since I’ve only listened) voice. I’ll stick to my Page-narrated BSC… since you hate us Americans and all.

    Love the books, Joe. Keep em coming!

  • Conor Stewart says:

    Bloody hell! Weirdest moment this morning when I downloaded the fourth part of Best Served Cold onto my iPod off Audible after a two-week break from listening due to technical issues. I was utterly -baffled- to be hearing Cosca, Shivers, Vitari and Eider’s dialogue read in the voices Pacey used in the trilogy. Thought I must have spent the past month hallucinating Michael Page coming out of my headphones after listening to Scott Lynch’s two Gentleman Bastard books in rapid succession just before. Thank you for clarifying my continued sanity.

    Nonetheless, this is great, although I’ve got to say I was starting to prefer Page’s Cosca and Shivers. Pacey’s Black Dow and Bayaz were two of the highlights of listening to the trilogy for me, though, so I can’t wait for this redone audiobook of The Heroes.

  • J.M. Perkins says:

    Awesome. It’s always amazing how much a good reader can add to a book, and how much a bad one can take away.

  • Nick says:

    My only problem with Page was Bayaz, Dow and especially the dogman. Page made the dogman sound like dracula or something. He made Dow sound too dignified… Also, action scenes were not as awesome with Page. I thought that Page’s Cosca was better, though very similar. I thought, too, that page did fantastic with Prince caulder, Craw, and Monza… On the whole, I guess I’d prefer Pacey, but Page didn’t do badly. AND JOE… Why hate on the Americans????? I was excited to see BSC and especially the Heroes being re-done by Pacey, then you stomped on me with this ‘not for America’ crap. Ouch… but ya know what… I still look forward to future works, you’re one of the best, ad one of my favorites. (But from what I’ve read in your reviews, you know you’re good, don’t you… don’t ya Joe)

  • Lynn says:

    Break my little American heart, why don’t ya?

  • Lazlo Woodbine says:

    I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand I thought Michael Page’s readings of ‘Best Served Cold’ and ‘The Heroes’ were excellent. I especially loved how Shiver’s voice evolves over BSC. On the other, Stephen Pacey is probably the best narrator i’ve had the pleasure of listening to. I wasn’t even sure I liked ‘The First Law’ trilogy at first but his reading was so superb that I kept listening until I’d realised just how brilliantly refreshing the series was.

    Either way, I just want to thank Joe and his publishers for making such an effort to release quality recordings. I listen to a huge amount of audiobooks to keep me sane while I work, and it’s extremely rare that I find anything so well written, produced and read as any of Joe’s books.

  • Steve says:

    This is such a disappointment. I just finished reading/listening to the First Law series. To find out that we can’t get the Pacey version of the audio books in the U.S. is a real kick in the stomach. I listened to the sample with Page, and I couldn’t stand it. I guess I will forgo these books or get them through other “means”. Really sad that I can’t buy the version that I want, and have to resort to this.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Sorry Steve, I understand your frustration but there’s nothing I can do. You’ll appreciate that if you sell someone the rights to adapt something and market it in a given territory you then have to abide by your agreement. You won’t necessarily always be able to get the same reader, though. Out of interest, how would you feel if the situation is as it was before, that is the only available recordings anywhere of Best Served Cold and The Heroes were by Page?

  • Steve says:

    I’d have waited until the outcry became enough for Pacey to do the books, lol. The Audible reviews are horrible, and I’m sure that’s why these books got redone with Pacey reading them. I can’t believe they are keeping the U.S. crowd from buying the books though. I never would have thought that would have been the case. I love your books and want you to get paid, but the Michael Page versions aren’t worthy of the material. Anyone know if it’s possible for me to buy and import these books read by Pacey? So far I haven’t found a way to get the Pacey versions of these books legally. And I want Joe to get paid, even if I have to pay more to get them.

  • Scott says:

    Good news. Bad News. I have the US audio book version of these from audible. page is ok, but Pacey is one of the best reader period. I did try and buy from the UK audible… and yes it did not work.. sigh. Will this be an audible only release? (i know they are not making CD versions a lot of the time)…

  • Carlos says:

    “hey Joe…” (Jimmy Hendrix)
    Appologies, man, just couldn’t resist…
    I’m listening to this AWSOME book as narrated by Michael Page and I’m finding him utterly “delicious”… Haven’t heard Pacey’s version but the comments about his narration here, have perked my curiosity.
    Anyway, as a graphic artist I would love to do a graphic novel out of your works, man…this is too visual and visceral at that to not put it to paint and paper…hell, I’m just NB…(newbe…nobody?), but well, would love to do these…My blogs will let you know my work if you ever feel curious about it…I know, I know, all about the frustration of aspiring artists and such…heck, I’m a 52 year old unpublished and unknown artist fart, but…why not just let my favorite authors know at least I LOVE their work?

  • Isaac says:

    This is really awesome news m8! I already got the version with page, and while he’s not that bad, it’s no Steven Pacey! That guy has just about ruined all other narrators for me lol.

    Thanks again for your awesome writing and dedication. The First Law is definitely one of the best books i’ve ever read/listened too – can’t wait for more!

  • Kathryn says:

    Would just like to convey heartfelt thanks for all the wonderful support and reviews you’ve given Steven Pacey. He really appreciates it!

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Pleasure. The reader’s hugely important in these things and I’ve yet to encounter anyone who doesn’t think Steven’s done a great job. Though I now realise I’ve paid him the ultimate compliment of spelling his name wrong, despite featuring a cover for the audiobook in which it is spelled correctly. I will fix that…

  • wonkybowels says:

    correct me if i’m wrong…..i know dvd have issues playing being formated for uk on us dvd players…..but does the same apply to Audio CDs?

    maybe i’m sepaking out of turn, but can’t we (in teh US) just order the Pacey version of BSC and Heroes from (for example)

  • wonkybowels says:

    ps…..Pacey read Ferro beyond brilliantly.

    as he did with each and every character.

  • Fredrick says:

    Do you have any idea why I cant get the audiobook for Best Served Cold in Norway? 🙁 I have both the real book and the ebook but it’d be nice to be able to listen to it while I work like I do with the rest of your series.

  • Tan says:

    All I can say is WAHHHHH! WAHHHH! WAAHHH! I can’t get the Steven Pacey version in the US. I wonder if we can all start a petition or something. Anyways, guess I’ll just ebook this one without the audio. Such a shame, but one can’t always get what one wants…you have to be realistic about these things. 🙂

  • Marcelo says:

    Joe, I see it’s been about ten months since you posted on this thread. Has there been any progress in getting Pacey’s reading of Best Served Cold and Heroes in the US? I have Pacey’s reading of The First Law Trilogy on audiobook, and it is without a doubt one of the best audio productions I’ve had to the pleasure to listen to (and I have about 100 audio books and a membership to I actually look forward to sitting in the car, listening to Pacey’s reading of your books while I’m driving. I’ve tried listening the Heroes by Page, but I just can’t get excited about it the way I do about Pacey’s reading, and I left it unfinished. There’s just a remarkable chemistry between your writing, the characters, the dialogue, and his reading. I’m about an hour away from finishing Red Country (and it’s amazing). Is there another Abercrombie/Pacey masterpiece coming anytime soon? And, just to be clear, I will happily buy Heroes again if they release the Pacey reading in the US.

  • lena says:

    I read all the comments about Pacey’s narration of the First Law Series and listen to them. Wow! His narrations have spoiled me and I’m always looking for another narrator who’s just as good. I then tried listening to BSC and Heroes with Page and I never finished either book because of the narration. Please, please, please have Pacey narrate BSC and Heroes for US use!!!!

  • Robert says:

    I’ve purchased all of your books through I’ve also listened listened to many books narrated by Michael Page. Michael Page is an excellent narrator. I recommend the Gentlemen Bastard Sequence written by Scotty Lynch for anyone who would like to hear Michael Page at some of his best narration.

    Despite Michael Page’s talents it is my opinion that if there is a god, then he hand crafted Steven Pacey to narrate your books. He has an unparalleled repertoire of accents and vocal range. He is also extremely consistent with the voices he uses across all of your books.

    I mentioned that I have bought all of your books through the US Audible. I have only listened to those purchases that are narrated by Steven Pacey. I can say though that I have listened to all of your books that have been narrated by Steven Pacey. You did get paid for you work. I think only lawyers would argue the ethics of the means by which I listened to Pacey’s versions.

    It boggles me that there are version out there that are narrated by Pacey yet they aren’t available on the US Audible site. In my world it seems like it would be so easy to just make them available. I know nothing about publishing though.

    I love your books Joe, The First Law series is my favorite three books I have ever listened to. You are an extremely talented writer and I thank you for writing them.

  • greg says:

    first off, i need to say that steven pacey did the best job period! page did good but he butchered byaz was no good and coska was no where near as entertaining as paceys version. i grew up in the heart of brooklyn and for various reasons am able to mimick just about any voice i hear in any language and i have come to know that its not so easy for most people to do. in fact most people are not skilled at creating and or coping voices. that said, page is very good but, steven pacey is on another planet. its almost hard to believe he does all the voices. even being a person who naturally can do many voices. i got the ability mainly from having close family who speak many languages ( which i think helped in a way through genetics) and being a small boy trying to fit in among friends who were varied and mostly tough. unintentionally i became a sort of clown by making fun of many of the various accents we heard every day. dont mean to bore you but want to give posible valid reasoning, though it may not be acceptable to some, for my opinion. i have no doubt i could make a living with my ability and im not alone in that idea and maybe better then page. but steven pacey creates amaizingly fitting voices and truy brings them to life, with depth and to varying degrees. he is truely fantastic.

  • Aj kramer says:

    I know my comment will not get seen down here an and this is a old thread but…..does no remember what page did to loans voice?! Logan appeared in one of the books Page read in a dream. His voice was high and squeaky. That’s what offended me the most that he hadn’t read any of the other books in the series before narrate narrating because he would have known that that Voice never would have suited Logan. But thanks for clarifying Joe that the two books read by page came out before any of the other at the time of listening to the books in the order they were published I thought you had just hired a cheaper narrator to save money! Lol I’m a huge fan and love your work! Bought your first book at a borders when it closed down that’s what got me started on on your writing

  • Ryan says:

    Page is excellent!! … when reading the Gentlemen Bastard Series.

    Being fans of both The Bastards and all things First Law, I identify each series with its reader. Having read three books from each series, it was impossible for me to reconcile Page’s voice with Abercrombie’s characters.

    There’s only one reader for the First Law world, and that’s Steven Pacey! I was thrilled to discover an alternative reading exists and purchased it immediately. Cheers! And Happy Listening!

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