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Publisher's Summary

Shy South comes home to her farm to find a blackened shell; her brother and sister have been stolen and she's going to have to return to her bad old ways if she's ever going to see them again. She sets off in grim pursuit with only her cowardly old step-father Lamb for company. But it turns out he's hiding a bloody past of his own. None bloodier.

Their journey will take them across the lawless plains, to a frontier town gripped by gold fever, through feuds, duels and massacres, and high into unmapped mountains to a reckoning with ancient enemies, and force them into alliance with Nicomo Cosca, infamous soldier of fortune...and a man no one should ever have to trust…

Steven Pacey is best known for his role as Del Tarrant in the third and fourth seasons of the sci-fi series Blake's 7.

He has worked extensively in Theatre, TV and film for many years and in 2009 played opposite Graham Norton in La Cage Aux Folles at London's Playhouse Theatre. He has read numerous audiobooks including Joe Abercrombie's First Law Trilogy, Best Served Cold and The Heroes, and abridged titles by Matthew Reilly.

©2012 Joe Abercrombie (P)2012 Orion Publishing Group

What listeners say about Red Country

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Western didn’t quite work

Loved the characters as usual but framing it as a western made seem inconsistent. Framing it around expansion into the Russian steps would been more consistent with the rest of the First Law world.

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Another epic read.

I couldn't imagine listening to any of Joe's works without Stevens voice.

This book felt a slower pace than Joes others work, but as a friend said "it has a Rambo feel" and the pace and feel suits the "old boys" cast.
Thoroughly enjoyed the book as I always do.

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The best fantasy western ever.

I loved this book. Best blending of fantasy and a western ever. Fast paced, plenty of action, twists and turns, revenge and laugh out loud moments. These characters are awesome bastards, all of them.
If you love a great story really well told and narrated to perfection, have a listen to this book. Steven Pacey's 'Nicomo Cosca' is the bloody best!

1 person found this helpful

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Red Country

Was expecting a true Western, to be honest. But was so glad it was set in Abercrombie’s world, and Shy wasn’t some busty blonde, gun totin’ her way around ‘The Wild West™️”.

It was full of all the kinds of characters we know and love, and yet they’re all individuals.

Another brilliant collaboration by Abercrombie and Pacey.

My one *tiny* gripe is Pacey’s pronunciation of “Grimace” - he rhymes it with “Face”… and he does it consistently throughout the entire saga (which is a lot), I’ve never heard it pronounced like this before - (only with a schwa sound ending!)

If someone can enlighten me on this one thing, I’d be grateful!

Other than that, it’s a one sitting read! You won’t want to put it down.

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Past its peak

The series peaked and plateaued at best served cold/ the heroes for me. This one’s good too and worth the listen. Enjoyable at times and some nice tie ins. But I wish he never killed off Day, I always looked forward to hearing what she had to snack on

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A Joe Abercrombie western

I listen to Joe Abercrombie books on a loop. His world is very dark but sprinkled with black humour.

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His best work

This is Joe Abercrombie's best work so far. Narration is impeccable. I have always considered Joe Abercrombie's work to be excellent; Red Country proves his mastery.

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Another wonderfully rich Abercrombie tale.

Delve deep into JA’s world with this action packed story involving some of my favourite characters (old and new), with a distinct Wild West flavour.
Pacey is simply a phenomenal narrator. Thank you for the entertainment.

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The best fantasy series I have read!

Absolutely brilliant.! The characters, the dialog, the plots and subplots are so well constructed.
The characters are portrayed so well with all their flaws, warts and all. You find yourself disliking a character who soon becomes a likeable rascal only to expose his flaws making you feel sorry for him.

Incredible authorship. A masterful display of wordsmithing!

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Loved it.

The longer the journey you took to get to this book, the better it is. This one was definitely for those long time fans of the first law world.

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  • Raphael
  • 07-11-2012

A pleasant read

Did not expect to see another book by Joe Abercrombie so soon after The Heroes and was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon it by chance. As others have noted, Steven Pacey is a remarkable narrator and would make a mediocre story sound superb. So much the better when the story is a decent one.

There are many parallels in Red Country to the colonization of the Americas, which adds an interesting tone to the story and at least for me, makes it easier to picture the world around the main characters. Storytelling is quite good, albeit the pacing is a little slow, events less grandiose and I would have, personally, enjoyed seeing more tie-ins into the previous books. I'm now more hopeful about hearing more about the fates of many of the old characters, though. There is a long time span between The last argument of kings and Red country along with plenty of characters and events to expand upon, so maybe we shall see another book detailing that time period more closely from the perspective of characters we haven't heard of for a long time.

Only gave the story four stars, because it doesn't quite stand up to the first law trilogy. You just have to be realistic about these things. ;)

6 people found this helpful

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  • panagiotis
  • 10-11-2012

Do not read the review of Luke from Japan

Thank god Luke I read your review after finishing the book. I can't understand why did you include such a spoiler without an alert dude. I would report you, but after voting negatively the button disappeared.
Very good book guys. If you aren't familiar with Mr. Abercrombie's books you should start with the first law trilogy, and after that continue with Best served cold, The heroes and finally Red country.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Jefferson
  • 01-02-2022

Cormac McCarthy and Jack Schaefer Do Epic Fantasy?

Joe Abercrombie’s Red Country (2012) reads a little like Blood Meridian crossed with Shane in an epic fantasy setting. Or like a grimdark fantasy by Joe Cook and Stephen Erikson with a strong western angle. Settlers are moving west through the Far Country, the land of the Ghosts (Native American analogues), looking for gold, following dreams, bringing “civilization” with them. There are cattle herds, river crossings, stampedes, and attacks by painted and motley-clothed Indians, er, Ghosts, circling the wagons and trying to take scalps, er, ears. There is the destination, the town Crease, run by and fought over by two saloon owners, the Mayor (centered in the Church of Dice) and Papa Ring (centered in the Whitehouse). In Crease the gamblers, gangsters, drunkards, beggars, and prostitutes outnumber the prospectors, and drinking, swearing, thieving, and fighting are rife.

Although Abercrombie offers a telling comment by Mark Twain as epigraph for one of the parts of the novel, “There are many humorous things in the world, among them the white man’s notion that he is less savage than the other savages,” and although one or two of Abercrombie’s main characters feel some sympathy for the Ghosts, realizing, for instance, that they are just people and that the settlers are engaged in “a brave but foolhardy effort to export the worst evils of city living into the middle of the unspoiled wilderness,” no main point of view character is a Ghost, they come off as rather pathetic (if colorful and dangerous), and at one point their leaders are treacherously and excrescently murdered by two of the men we’re supposed to be rooting for in our reading of the novel. In short, although Abercrombie pays lip service to the concept that all men are equally savage and that civilization is in many ways a plague, he gets the reader to want non-Ghost characters to come out on top of the carnage.

Fortunately, Abercrombie is really writing epic fantasy, with mutually antagonistic cultures like the Old Empire, the Union, and the North, so he also has more formidable and villainous non-Ghost antagonists for our heroes, like Captain General Nicomo Cosca, leader of the mercenary Company of the Gracious Hand, and Inquisitor Lorsen, leader of eight or so sadistic “practicals” from the Union’s Inquisition. Cosca is a prime villain, a luminously smiling, gregarious, geriatric Captain Hook, given to philosophizing and seeking personal gain without any ethics or morals. His company indulges in rapine and pillage and massacre, burning whatever will burn, taking whatever can be carried, arriving like a plague of psychopathic locusts and leaving devastation in their wake. They are under contract to the Union to cross the border into the Near and Far Countries to find rebel remnants so Inquisitor Lorsen may torture them for a brighter future.

One of the most interesting characters is the Gracious Hand’s lawyer Temple, who’s spent most of his life taking the easy way and leaving all his many jobs and careers half-completed, a man with the moral compass to be appalled by the Company’s atrocities but without the courage to try to stop them.

But the novel is driven by Shy “My knife is always handy” South, a one-quarter Ghost, red haired, gap toothed, sharp-tongued, hard-bargaining, ex-wanted thief and murderer, and her stepfather Lamb, a hulking, taciturn, middleaged northerner who avoids conflict and can’t bargain. After their farm is burned, their hired worker hanged, and Shy’s ten-year-old sister and six-year-old brother taken, Shy and Lamb set out from the ruins to track the culprits across the Near Country and into the Far Country. Once Shy starts a task she won’t stop till it’s done, but this one seems nigh on impossible. Fortunately for her, Lamb (not his real name) turns out to be more dangerous and infamous than Shy took him to be.

Abercrombie likes to set potent characters in motion until they collide in impressive set pieces with ever higher stakes as the story progresses. Here we have the Company of the Gracious Hand (and Temple), the Fellowship (of settlers), the Inquisitors, the Ghosts, the Dragon People (a strain of Ghost hiding away on or in a sacred volcanic mountain), a small group of scoundrels led by Grega Cantliss, and our “heroes” Shy and Lamb.

Especially memorable are the terse, teasing interactions between Shy (who sticks at everything she attempts) and Temple (who sticks at nothing), Nicomo Cosca’s self-aggrandizing BS delivered to his hack biographer Spillion Sworbreck, a tour de force wagon chase scene, and a hilarious treaty signing attended by the dread Imperial Legate Sarmis.

Plenty of dry, witty, cynical dialogue:
“Some day you can build a boat from ‘meaning well’ and see how it floats. Tried that. It sank with me on it.”
“A man with a missing eye after a man with a missing finger. There’s a song somewhere in there, I reckon.”
“What can you expect when you fish men out of rivers? Heroes?”
“Severed heads never go out of fashion.”
“Here is the perennial trouble with burying your past. Others are forever trying to dig it up.”

Plenty of vivid, evocative descriptions:
“She burst out at the edge of a dizzy cliff and stared far over high and barren country, sharp black forest and bare black rock, slashed and stabbed with white snow, fading into long gray rumor, without a touch of people or color. No hint of the world she knew.”

Audiobook reader Stephen Pacey relishes the novel, giving different characters from different cultures different accents, doing fine voices for the main characters, and doing a splendid Nicomo Cosca, such that at one point when Cosca shows up unexpectedly and Abercrombie is withholding his identity for a few paragraphs, Pacey reveals the villain’s presence more quickly than were we reading the physical book. Pacey enhances the story.

Readers of Abercrombie novels will recognize here their trademark features: painterly descriptions, unpredictable and visceral violence (that may become numbing), murky moral waters, and flawed narrative point of view characters who can’t escape their troubled pasts or who have difficulty making the right choice in moments of crisis, such that we find them oddly appealing as we wonder if they’ll ever be able to find a place of peace or do the right thing.

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  • David Petty
  • 05-04-2019

My favorite character

I tend not to read books more than once. I’ve read this one twice and now listened to it as well. The Bloody Nine is my favorite literary character. I have now realise that when listening to a book the characters come over according to the emphasis given to them be the narrator, so my experience has been quite different as a result, which I’m still adjusting to. So with that in mind there was only one aspect that niggled me: the narrator when saying the word “grimaced” repeatedly pronounced it as “ghri-maced” as opposed to the only way I’ve ever heard it pronounced, which is “ghri-mussed”. Otherwise I quite enjoyed the experience.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Marcel du Plessis
  • 05-01-2022

Perfect story, character, and narration.

Abercrombie is a genius. I'm waiting to find a bad novel - this isn't it. The characters are rounded and complex, the description is rich and immersive. Steven Pacey is a great narrator - wish he could read my stuff one day.

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  • Matthew
  • 03-12-2021

Good but not his best

Good story telling but The Blade Itself still remains my favourite. Logan Nine Fingers is one of the best character names … Lamb not so much.

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  • Martin
  • 01-12-2021

A drink, a drink, a drink

I could use a drink after that.
Gotta say they both really outdid themselves in this masterpiece! The story, character development and narration!

Not often do I bother making an actual "review" of a book, but this one was so well made all the way through!

Were on the edge the entire time!

This goes on the list of books I wish I could forget and relisten to once again!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 19-03-2021

Brilliant

Another banger by Abercrombie. And Steven Pacey is probably my favorite narrator at this point.

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  • Victor
  • 26-11-2020

Incredible

I've read all books released before this one and they just keep flooring me. As good as it gets, this is.

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  • Daniel Smith
  • 25-05-2020

perfection?

these books, read by this guy... my best audio book experience to date. I don't know if it's perfection... but it's the closest I've found.

usually I would do something, be driving or gardening or whatever when listening to audio books. but these ones. sometimes I will just sit, close my eyes and listen.

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  • Matt
  • 23-12-2012

Old friends and enemies

I am a huge fan of Joe Abercrombie. Critics will tend to ignore him because he works within the fantasy genre but there is real genius here. The depth, breadth and sophistication of his characters are startling.

Red Country is perhaps Abercrombie's weakest work but still manages to be one of the best books I've ever read. He is that good.



Steven Pacey's narration, once again, takes the excellent source material to a higher level. He is the best narrator around. Each of the characters is distinctive; the pace is perfect and the timing superb. This is not a reading, more a one man radio play.



That the Abercrombie - Pacey combination haven't won an audiobook award is a total traversty.

26 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Thursday Week
  • 26-10-2012

Gritty, Graphic and Darkly Funny

Red Country was one of my most eagerly awaited books for a while and it does not dissapoint. Set some time after The Heroes it is a brilliant mix of old and new characters venturing into a new land of opportunity. However, remembering what great pleasure Mr Abercrombie takes in giving his characters a rough time you can take it as red (sorry!) that things do not run smoothly. The plot is gripping and the beautifully described environment will have you wiping dust out of your eyes.



As ever Steven Paceys narration is glorious, bringing already solid characters to life.



The only thing I would say is if you are new to Joe Abercrombies work I would advise you go back to the beginning and start with the First Law Trilogy - you will be glad you did!!



More please!!!!

15 people found this helpful

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  • Andrew
  • 11-02-2015

Another Abercrombie Masterpiece

Okay... there is a lot of violence. But there's also a lot of story, humour, great characters and a fantastic world. This book is part of the same universe made up of the First Law trilogy, Best Served Cold and The Heroes (with many of the same characters). I confess I've avoided The Heroes as the write ups all seem to focus on endless battle. I should probably read it however - as all of the others are absolutely fantastic. If you want to spend some time in a convincing and fantastical other world - these are the stories for you.

Amplifying their effect is Steven Pacey. The best performer for these books (and available across all of them) - he reads effortlessly and (to my mind) perfectly. Accents, timing, consistency - all done brilliantly.

If you've not listened to the First Law Trilogy - I strongly recommend you do - and first. You will not regret it (and I am extremely jealous if you've not listened to them...)

6 people found this helpful

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  • Martin
  • 01-09-2013

Excellent..

After not liking "The Heroes" I am very glad to be to loving this book :) Lots of new characters and the odd one or two we may have met before. If you have not listened to the the first law trilogy, this book is very good and stands fine alone without knowing the past history, it would even be a good starting point and treating the trilogy as a prequel would be very entertaining. If you have listened to the others you will be very happy with this book and I recommend you download it.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-03-2013

Bloody funny

I am in awe of Joe Abercrombie, he writes stories that are visceral, filthy, grim, philosophical and funny, balancing high and low fantasy (mostly low in this case) on the fulcrum of a gripping narrative. And the bodycount is astounding.



You might be better off starting with the First Law Trilogy (as the resonances here will make you smile) but Red Country is a fine stand alone tale. It channels the spirit of the Wild West, but never feels like a clash of genre's, more as if you have wandered off the edge of the map of his previous fantasy world and are blundering around in the Far Country. For that skilful mix alone this is worth a read, I've never seen anyone do it better.



Narration by Steven Pacey is excellent again, capturing just the right levels of weight and levity.



The new characters are interesting, well-rounded and sometimes even survive. Abercrombie is building up quite the cast list. But the old characters are always welcome, and two in particular will have you laughing and grimacing in turn.



So a welcome addition to the canon and well worth a five-star rating. Recommended!

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Philipp
  • 27-11-2012

Brilliant novel brought to life by great narration

Joe Abercrombie creates another fantastic set of engaging characters that are taken to the limit physically and (more interestingly) morally. Abercrombie's characters have never been black and white but in this novel the line is blurrier than ever.



The narration by Pacey gives further life to the already colourful characters (a new contender for all time favourite fictional character is a certain mercenary captain who makes an excellent re-appearance in this book).



I finished this absurdly quickly in a couple of staggeringly unproductive days.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Brian
  • 08-11-2012

The Genius of Abercrombie continues

Once again Joe Abercrombie entertains with a cavalcade of brilliant characters. While these stories are categorised as Fantasy, they could sit within the realms of any great fiction genre.

Some great old characters and some enticing new ones invite you to follow them on a journey so exciting that it makes the reader hope it wont end. If you liked his previous books you will love this one. The best read of the year, bewitched from start to finish. The only downside is that I have to wait for the publication of his next one.

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Christopher
  • 23-12-2012

The country will run red

The book:



Fans of Abercrombie's previous works will feel right at home with Red Country. This is the last of the stand alone books before another trilogy and is a good read. It's full of the violence, tension and dark humour you would expect from the author of The Heroes and Best Served Cold.



However to be honest, it's probably the weakest of the books. For me, the story line didn't flow as well as it could have and the pacing was a little off in place. It seemed that this book was setting up events that will happen further down the line. More of a prelude to the next trilogy rather than a story in its own right.



There also seemed to be an over use of previous characters from the other books and while it is a nice nod to fans of the series; it did seem forced.That said, there are some excellent new characters introduced (Temple being one of the best character I've seen in a long while). The new setting of the near and far country was also a joy to discover.



The Narration: Steven Pacey delivers another fantastic performance, he matches the tone of the book perfectly. I can't fault it at all.



7 people found this helpful

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  • El
  • 05-01-2019

great book

I just love this series and I loved this book. that's it. And pacey is an amazing narrator.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Robyn
  • 29-12-2013

My favourite character's back!

Yay! Logen's back!!!

I thoroughly enjoyed the First Law trilogy, and although Best Served Cold was equally good, I was a little disappointed by Heroes (just a personal taste thing, as I know other reviewers have raved about it) - but for me, Red Country was a return to the earlier style/ story, which I so enjoyed. Admittedly, I might be slightly biased because old Logen is back, and he's been my favourite character since the beginning, however there are some great new characters in this instalment too - most notably, Temple!

As always, Abercrombie's characters are well developed and all unique, and his story telling is gritty and engaging. A great bit of entertainment.
Steven Pacey's narration is, as usual, flawless.

If you're new to the series, treat yourself by starting at the beginning with the Blade (First Law Trilogy), and be entertained through all 6 books. It never gets "samey" - well worth each and every credit used on these books.

12 people found this helpful

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