Progress Report October ’23

October 31st, 2023

Happy Halloween! Hard to believe we’re almost at the end of 2023. Ooooh, they go faster every year, though, don’t they, things aren’t what they used to be when I were a lad etc.

The WGA strike is at an end, which is great, and even greater, it seems from most reports that the writers… kinda won this round. A qualified win, of course, as such things always are, but some significant progress on many of the areas of concern. The gears of Hollywood grind back into action therefore and writing and other preparatory work on the Best Served Cold film (as well as a few other projects) is underway again, but the actors remain on strike so it’s far from all systems go and there’s no casting that can be done. Can’t say much more about that right now, but my good buddy Tim Miller who’s gonna be directing has been talking a little bit about the project and our epic quest to bring the First Law to the screen, among other things (Best Served Cold stuff later in the interview, around the 29 min mark)…

But it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good, as they say, and the strike did give me an opportunity to give The Devils my undivided attention for a couple of months. The good news there is that I’ve tackled the editorial notes and my own structural concerns, chopped the end around a bit and looked at all the points of view and arcs in turn, and I’ve now got a second draft I’m pretty happy with. It’s gone off to my editors – Gillian Redfearn in the UK and Lindsey Hall in the US (who I believe just won a Hugo award the other day, so congratulations to her) – for its line edit. That’s when the editors mark the manuscript up in detail, draw attention to specific concerns and make more focussed suggestions. The first discussions about the cover art will be happening in the next month or two as well. After that there’ll probably just be a couple of run throughs from me to consider setting and the detail of the language before it goes to be copy edited at the start of next year and is basically done. In the meantime I’ve started work on planning the next book, and, if you can believe it, I’ve actually written a thousand words of the bastard  too. A thousand BAD words, but still.

In other news a couple of special editions have released and should be working their way to those who’ve preordered. Subterranean Press’s lettered edition of The Great Change and Other Lies (which is a novella length collection of four short stories accompanying the Age of Madness) sold out long ago but at the time of writing you can still get the numbered edition with awesome artwork by John Anthony di Giovanni, and there’s an e-book edition too. Meanwhile boutique ultra high end publisher Curious King have started shipping their three sumptuous letterpress editions of The Blade Itself with lashings of beautiful art by Tommy Arnold. Afraid these all sold out within an hour or two of going on sale but if you want to live vicariously you can see Fantasy Book Critic Petrik unboxing his copy on YouTube, and here’s a few photos from my own copies, including the ludicrous leather-bound lettered edition with a binding like a renaissance bible for which 26 lucky punters paid, much to my own personal amazement, over 2 grand a pop. What a time to be alive…

Posted in announcements, news, progress by Joe Abercrombie on October 31st, 2023.

27 comments so far

  • Cody H says:

    Thanks for the update Joe! Glad to hear the Devils is so far along. Cant wait to get my hands on it. Have a great Halloween and general holiday season!

  • Rick Allen says:

    So excited to hear all the updates! Very excited about both the new book and the potential adaptation of Best Served Cold! Super happy to hear that the cover artwork will be worked on soon. I’m an American fan but prefer the British artwork and so my collection is all the British versions – hopefully the British ones look great for this new series as well because I’d hate to have to switch.

  • Dan says:

    Love the Blade Itself artwork. That’s pretty much how I always pictured Logan. Really looking forward to the casting decisions upcoming. You already have Monza nailed. Shivers is super important imo (please dont race change him, please, yes i’m an awful person for saying such a thing). The Shivers actor also need to be able to reprise the role for the First Law trilogy of movies that will surely come after BSC. Thanks for the update Joe.

  • thekelvingreen says:

    It never occurred to me that a book would go to two different editors at once; I assumed there would be an “original” version that would then go overseas for localised (or in this case localized) editing.

    How does it work if they have differing edits; do you incorporate both? Worse, what happens if they have contradictory edits?

  • nikonokiki says:

    Oh I’ve got a feeling the word of mouth is going to be extremely strong with the adaptation. It’s unbelievable how you’ve grown, Joe Abercrombie. From a promising fresh voice to, probably the top 2 or 3 most revered fantasy authors alive and still rising in popularity. No duds, no half backed works, no stale repeats.

    I think it’s fantastic you’re breaking some expectations with The Devils. Just what’s needed to stay sharp.

    Also, your random reddit comment yesterday was interesting…

  • Constant says:

    It’s wonderful to be a fan of yours.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Rick Allen,
    I believe the plan for the Devils is to have the same artwork US and UK – the typography may differ mind you…

    There’s a lot to consider when you’re casting – acting skill and suitability for the part, sometimes choices that don’t immediately occur provide something you’re not expecting, then there’s profile of the actor, balance of the cast, and then of course – do they actually like the script and want the part? Then there are a lot of opinions to be considered and mine is by no means the most important. So we’ll see…

    Kelvin Green,
    Usually that is the case – you have a primary publisher who handles the world rights and a primary editor who does the first and most significant work. In this case my US and UK publishers are both primary – they’re working out between them how they’re going to organise it and they’ll give me a document with both of their notes. Think they’ll most likely go in sequence, one after the other, to make sure there’s no confusion.

  • Matt J. says:

    Thanks for the update! Always love to hear of progress on a new book. I have had to buy some of your books multiple times as copies have been lent and lost or, as in the case of my first copy of the Blade Itself, fell apart from re-readings. I have no problem with this, I want you to have my money. BUT. The limited edition printings can be a bit much for someone on a public school teacher salary. Any chance of cheaper, wider-release versions of the The Great Change coming out? I know there is an e-book but I prefer physical copies.
    Thanks again!

  • David Johnson says:

    This is all very exciting news. Do you know if ‘The Great Change (and Other Lies)’ will be getting a wider release at some point?

  • Maya says:

    Thank you for the update, I am looking forward the Devils. I really hope we will get an audiobook with it released at the same time. What’s the process of selecting the narrator for your books? Does your publisher suggest someone or you decide based on who you like?

  • Jack Shepherd says:

    Can’t wait for The Devils, super interesting to read all about the process here. Is the new project post-devils a continuation of The Devils or First Law world or something fresh?

    You, Anthony & Tommy have done an amazing job on the Curious King edition, thank you for letting my map grace the pages with you legends!
    The Sub Press Great Change looks beautiful too, though I’ve yet to get my hands on it.

    Hopefully the actors can get a fair shake soon, and we’ll get to see the Circle of the World in glorious technicolour.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    I’d be amazed (and very annoyed) if there isn’t an audiobook at the same time – it’s become a hugely important part of the business. The publisher(s) may well have suggestions about the narrator but unless there’s some really compelling reason I will push fiercely for Steven Pacey – there’s a sense in giving a new series a distinct delivery but he’s just so damn good at doing the First Law books, and these are a similar style of books with a distinct cast of narrators. Can’t imagine anyone else doing it as well as he does.

    David, Matt,
    I believe you can get the ebook of the Great Change from subterranean wherever you are (you will have to pay in dollars). I hope it will get a wider release at some point but they’ll have a significant period of exclusivity. After that we’ll see.

  • Eamonn says:

    Is there any plans for an audiobook of The Great Change?

  • Cameron Zachary says:

    Awesome update! Really great to hear how The Devils is coming along. Just finished a re-read of the entire first law series. Can’t say how much your books and characters have meant to me and my family! We’re looking for any new book series recommendations if you have any new favorites. Hope all is well!

  • Dave says:

    This is all wonderful news, the future is rife with Devils and beyond, and a live action Morveer!

    The Great Change And Other Lies is not yet available in Canada. Though the Sub Press versions are gorgeous, is there any word on an ebook release date for us frost-bitten Canadians? And is there an audiobook in the offing?


  • Dave says:

    This is all wonderful news. These progress reports are always a fascinating read.

    The Great Change (And Other Lies) is available as an exclusive ebook to Canadians, and now lives on my phone. It will tide me over nicely until The Devils.

    I’m sure all of us Steven Pacey fans are eagerly awaiting the audiobook for TGC (AOT) patiently, knowing we get what we get, and not at all with a sense of entitlement.

    Here’s to progress!

  • Matt says:


    That is EXACTLY how I pictured the First of the Magi’s ass. As a woodcutter myself, I’m familiar with the way chopping wood develops a certain shape back there. Spectacular. Congrats!

    – Matt

  • Vedran Mavrović says:

    Thanks for the update, Joe.

    Will there be an audio version of “The great change and other lies”?

    I’m kinda hooked to Abercrombie-Pacey duo spectacle, and am revisiting the older books, so I’m eager to pick that one as well.

    All the best,


  • Gayle says:

    Thank you so much for the update.

    For the movie Best Served Cold – can you share the few casting decisions that are final ?

  • Craig Pattenden says:

    Can’t wait to read The Devils, chomping at the bit for literally any more writing from you!

    One thing I’ve wondered about the screen adaptation… I love Best Served Cold, I think it’s a great story self contained but with strong ties to the other books (Shivers none the least), but what was the thought process with not starting with The First Law trilogy? I, like many others, had this as our introduction to the world and to your writing, so why not start there?

    Is it a scale issue? Starting small with the intention to expand?

  • Tina Pressley says:

    Mr. Abercrombie,
    I have listened to all of your novels and absolutely love them. My favorites are The Heroes and Sharp Ends. I cannot express how much I appreciate your talent and wit! I’ve listened to the two above mentioned books so many times and they still mesmerize me. “The Fool Jobs” positively makes me double over with laughter. Thank you!

  • Gabriel says:

    I just love your work. I am a neurologist. How on God’s green earth did you write so accurately about Sand dan Glotka’s neurological problems? neuropathic pain? As an avid reader with a ridiculously large overflowing library where I can’t find books I want to reread so I just end up buying again. (Terry Pratchett must have loved me!) I have never read such accurate descriptions of what one goes through when walking to the office sweating from pain or about how painful a chair would be or the challenge of stair leaving you wrenched and sweating with pain leaving you breathless. To the point: your descriptions of nerve pain are the best I have ever read, anywhere. The 12 stairs!! That brief anticipation of the inevitable pain and helpless feeling where you are powerless to stop what you know is going to feel like a red hot poker up your foot to your ear. Just brilliant. Sand’s innocuous comments. To paraphrase, “wonder where/why that pain is coming from.” Hats of to you and feel free to email me with neurology questions put seems like you got it down pat. Personally I have a nerve damaged left foot and your description of the pain punched me in the gut and left me feeling vindicated! Cheers

  • Colinj says:

    There is a 1,000,000% chance that Caul Shivers will be black for absolutely no reason.

    This is just how it is. Not a single filmaker is brave enough to say no.

  • Gilroy Greenfruits says:

    the art of Logen and Ferro are superb!

    Please fight the Equity/Social/Governance tyrants and resist the race-changing, gender-changing, sexuality-changing etc. keep the characters true to the vision of the books.

    Bayaz is NOT a transgender person of color!

  • Archer Grace says:

    It is always an exciting moment when I recommend the First World to book lovers, knowing they’re in for possibly the best time of their fantasy fiction lives.
    Really thank you.
    I’ve the books on audible too, and working alone in orchards every year at this December time I find myself in the First World. During the first listening time, a few years ago, grimdark times for me, it was the anticipation of your story that got me out of bed and into work.
    Anyway, you’re appreciated and loved.

  • Jaden says:

    Super excited to read the next book I was wondering with the audiobooks if Steven pacey might be returning for the devils? One of my favorite parts of listening to the first law series was how well he was able to give each character such a memorable voice

  • Stephen says:

    I’ve always pictured Karl Urban (Eomer from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films) as Caul Shivers. I would be very interested in any actors alive or dead you imagined your characters as while writing your stories. For instance, I picture Nine fingers as Marv from Frank Miller’s Sin City comic and so also think of a battered Mickey Rourke.

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