First Law Audiobooks

February 24th, 2010

So they’re currently recording the audiobooks of the First Law, due out in June as downloads, and I dropped into the studio on Monday to see how it was going. They’re unabridged, so it’s taking them sixteen full days of recording, and when I got there they were just starting on Before They Are Hanged.

I was expecting it to be more than a little bit cringy, if I’m honest. Just something slightly weird about the whole idea of someone else reading something that’s so personal. I was sure some of the pronunciations would be wrong, and some of the voices would be weird, and to a certain degree some of them were. But I have to say overall I was hugely impressed. It’s being read by Steven Pacey, and I thought on the whole he’d really captured the spirit of it beautifully. The number of different voices he switches effortlessly between seriously is something to behold. He even manages to make my prose sound good. So, as with Chris McGrath’s paintings of the characters, it’s an interpretation, but it seemed like a bloody successful one to me. Actually really looking forward to listening to the rest…

Posted in Uncategorized by Joe Abercrombie on February 24th, 2010.

23 comments so far

  • chris says:

    Wasn't he in Blake 7? Have to check imdb.

  • Oberazzi says:

    Really wonderful news. I finished listening to Best Served Cold a month ago and am eager to hear the trilogy. I was too impatient to read while I listened, so I just listened. This time around, I will get the Kindle books onto my iPod and reread while I listen.


  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    He was indeed. Copper bottomed credentials for fans over a certain age…

  • Ant says:

    Wow, yes, Steven Pacey was in Blake’s Seven, playing Del Tarrant.

    He didn’t strike me then as a great actor, but, hey, that was 30 years ago. And I’ve not seen him in anything since… mmm, he was in one episode of Spooks … well, nothing I remember him in.

    Still, while I'm not sure I'd ever buy these (or any other!) audiobooks, it sounds like they're being treated well.

    — Ant

  • Rachel says:

    That must be weird to listen to. No matter how strongly you try to convey it on the page, I guess everyone will hear the characters, the stresses, the tones in their own way.

    Writing dialogue, knowing exactly how it sounds in my head, every breath, pause, sneering inflection, but then trying to get that across, in words … feels like threading a needle wearing oven gloves.

    It's all just interpretation, like you say. Who was it who said, language is a code, and every decoding is another encoding. Some dude.

    I should probably stop blathering and go and do some work.

  • Bob Lock says:

    I had one of my short stories made into an audio by Wiley Writers in the US and a guy named Nathan Crowder did the reading. It was totally weird hearing my characters speak with an American accent (I'm Welsh) but I have to admit that he made even my crap writing sound good.
    Audiobooks are becoming very popular and are so easy to find on sites like Audible. Now I always keep one on my mobile and listen to it when out shopping with the wife etc 🙂

  • Ashootingstar says:

    I guess lots of people buy them, but I HATE audiobooks. Maybe I am strange…or just special. I will stick to buying dead trees as I can't get into this digital thing either and I am not even old.

  • Peterhelm says:

    Brilliant I had previously searched on Audible for your books.

    Can't wait

  • Bob Lock says:


    Yeah I used to dislike audiobooks too but when spending about ten days in bed with swine-flu, pleurisy and pneumonia recently and being unable to even read I began to enjoy them, they can add another dimension to stories.
    Only drawback I've found is when reading a book, if I fall asleep it just drops to the floor and I can easily find where I left off. With audiobooks I've slept through about a dozen chapters and have to search for the last lucid thing I heard!

  • zaccur says:

    Great news JOE I have been waiting FOREVER… When I first heard the guy reading Best Served Cold I was really disappointed he was the guy who did Lies of Lock Lemora and I couldn't get through it. I don't know if lies was just a bad book or if BSC is just so much better but now i really like the guy who read it and before i thought he sucked.
    So all three books are coming out at the same time, will they be in one big package or sold separately?

  • harvb says:

    Wow, haven't heard a peep from Steven Pacey since Blakes Seven. Very theatrical, from what I remember.

  • chris says:

    Bob-Yeah I get that problem with nodding off mid chapter. Especially during absinth binges.

  • Ashootingstar says:

    Bob, that doesn't sound pleasent. I hope you are fully recovered.
    Since I pig ear my pages I can normally find my last page if I remember how much I have read. Though with a young child there is not much chance for falling asleep while reading. 🙁 Maybe when I am older.

  • Bob Lock says:

    Thanks, Ashootingstar 🙂

    Yep it was a bad time, but fully recovered now.

  • Anonymous says:

    What I want to know is, what was mispronounced? It's always interesting to hear an author clarify the pronunciation of invented names …

    Kai in NYC

  • Anonymous says:

    Well, the audiobooks have been released so I decided to give them a listen. So far – awesome…

    There is a huge problem with The Blade Itself however. It seems like the last 3 chapters are MISSING from the audiobook. Ok, I know I can just grab my original from the bookcase, but still this is a major oversight from Orion Publishing Group.

  • lasha says:

    Love his reading! I was really impressed by how different the character’s sounded. Much better than some other readers.

    There is a bid problem, though. The version they just released on audible is missing the last three chapters! It ends at the end of Back To The Mud.

    I just reserved a copy from my local library so I can finish the book without double purchasing.

    Barring things Joe has no control over: Fantastic audio book, If you have any say in the matter, have pacey back to read future books.

  • Anonymous says:

    An update on my message from June 12th

    If you buy the audiobook online now, it is OK. Everything has been fixed!

    When in doubt, the correct version of the audiobook is well over 22 hours. The older and incorrect audiobook is around 20.5 hours.

  • Xythen says:

    The audiobooks read by Pacey were brilliant. I thought his interpretation of Gloktor was amazing- he added the lisp without making it a mockery.
    I’m listening to “Best Served Cold” now, and not quite having the same enthusiasm about the reader.
    I hope you at least can appreciate them. They inspired me to rush out an buy bound copies of the books, as well. That’s a sales pitch!

  • Eric Berger says:


    Found you through Right now I almost finished with the First Law Trilogy and I love it. Naturally I have recommended it to friends.

    I have to say Pacey did a marvelous job of bringing your characters alive and I hope if you have a decision with Heroes and your other books you will do everything you can to have him read them. Thanks for reading (and writing, of course!)


  • Cara says:

    The First Law trilogy and Best Served Cold are among some of the best I’ve read. Sometimes listening to an audiobook can really ruin a good story, this is not the case with The First Law trilogy. The accents fit the characters and I thought Glokta’s lisp was perfect. I laughed, sighed and groaned out loud as I listened to Steven read one of my top favorite trilogies out there. Good choice, Mr Abercrombie.

  • Richard Farmer says:

    I am listening to Last Argument of Kings and must say that I have thoroughly enjoyed this series, both the writing of Joe and the reading by Steven Pacey. He did an excellent job with the various character voices, especially Glokta.

    Keep them coming Joe, I will be starting Best Served Cold and The Heroes as soon as I finish with The First Law.

  • Oliver says:

    Heya Joe…

    Just to let you know – I found you through audible too. Pacey does a fantastic job, it makes SUCH a difference with audiobooks.

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