The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French

The Grey Bastards

Jonathan French

The Grey Bastards is a grimy, pulpy, masterpiece, and a raunchy, swaggering, cunningly clever adventure about battling invading orcs, rampaging centaurs, and grubby human conspiracies alike.

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Live in the saddle.
Die on the hog.
Call them outcasts, call them savages—they’ve been called worse, by their own mothers—but Jackal is proud to be a Grey Bastard.
He and his fellow half-orcs patrol the barren wastes of the Lot Lands, spilling their own damned blood to keep civilized folk safe. A rabble of hard-talking, hog-riding, whore-mongering brawlers they may be, but the Bastards are Jackal’s sworn brothers, fighting at his side in a land where there’s no room for softness.
And once Jackal’s in charge—as soon as he can unseat the Bastards’ tyrannical, seemingly unkillable founder—there’s a few things they’ll do different. Better.
Or at least, that’s the plan. Until the fallout from a deadly showdown makes Jackal start investigating the Lot Lands for himself. Soon, he’s wondering if his feelings have blinded him to ugly truths about this world, and the Bastards’ place in it.
In a quest for answers that takes him from decaying dungeons to the frontlines of an ancient feud, Jackal finds himself battling invading orcs, rampaging centaurs, and grubby human conspiracies alike—along with a host of dark magics so terrifying they’d give even the heartiest Bastard pause.
Finally, Jackal must ride to confront a threat that’s lain in wait for generations, even as he wonders whether the Bastards can—or should--survive.
Delivered with a generous wink to Sons of Anarchy, featuring sneaky-smart worldbuilding and gobs of fearsomely foul-mouthed charm, The Grey Bastards is a grimy, pulpy, masterpiece—and a raunchy, swaggering, cunningly clever adventure that’s like nothing you’ve read before.

Advance Galley Reviews

Loved the way the story unfolded. Enough twist and turns to keep everything interesting. A truly fun anti-hero to follow. Recommend this book highly.

Unbelievably good. No wonder this won the 2016 Self-published Fantasy Blog-off. It was incredible.

If Joe Abercrombie and JRR Tolkien met one fateful night at the Eagle and Child and had a drunken one night stand, this book would be that love child. With a rough edged prose and characters who revel in vulgarity this book lives up to the 'Sons of Anarchy' comparison, from the biker gang style culture to the fact that these Half Orcs ride around on hogs (literal hogs, giant War Hogs to be specific, and I want one). As I mentioned earlier author Jonathan French definitely owes a debt of gratitude to Tolkien for his creatures (orcs, elves, wizards) and Abercombie (for his vulgar and grimdark-esque literary style), but rather than aping the two fantasy titans and creating a pale imitation doomed to be inferior, he creates a world that feels rich and deeply lived in despite it's fantastical elements, and grounds his characters with familiar cultural touchstones (i.e. orcs as biker gangs). The Grey Bastards pulls you in from from page one, dropping you right in on the action as Jackal, our protagonist, wakes up in a brothel, along with his two closes hoof mates Oates and Fetching, having all engaged a night of drunken debauchery only to be confronted outside by a cadre of soldiers and their dick of a captain. Needless to say it doesn't end well, for anyone involved, whether they walk away or dragged away. Does the author have your attention yet? This inciting incident, seemingly inconsequential to all involved, kicks off a series of events that rapidly spiral into a complex and far reaching mystery/conspiracy/adventure that holds the fate of races and nations in the balance. Many plates are set spinning and the the author manages to maintain them all to the books conclusion, though as you can imagine, some are still spinning at books end for the next book to pick up. Overall the Grey Bastards is a well written story with complex characters, who are sometimes amoral, always vulgar, and incredibly well drawn. Each member of the hoof has their own unique voice, sense of humor, or quirks, so the reader is never confused by characters blurring together. The villains have depth and dimension, and you find yourself not sure if you hate them and want them to die, or think they kind of have a point. No, definitely hate them, until they say something funny, then they're okay again. Wait I hate him now, like for sure hate him. Yup, he should die. Damn, he just so charming... I highly recommend picking up this book, you'll laugh, you'll be riveted, you'll discover the pet you never knew you wanted and now must have, only to google and discover that there are no breeders of War Hogs out there (How is this not a thing we can have?! Come on science, if you can't give me a hover board, than dammit give me a War Hog!) Buy the book. Live in the saddle. Die on the hog. Not much to say, I couldn't get into the book at all, and sorry to first to read because I requested it!

I received this book for an early review. And generally, I liked the book. It had quick pacing, well developed characters, and the world building wasn't bad. My only complaint would be the series of events themselves, which I thought moved far too quickly from scene to scene. The story is nuanced and layered, and I thought each scene could have used more. However, this is more of a subjective complaint though; I tend to like more details than less, and this was trimmed to a point where I thought it lacking. With that said, it was not a bad book; I thought it was well written and had a true sense of where it was and the story it was telling. I felt sympathy for the characters, enjoyed some of the twists and turns, liked the action and fighting scenes (which were well detailed), and thought the conclusion was well done, leaving it open for future books in the series. I will definitely look for future books in this series.

Great fast paced fantasy novel with interesting characters and lots of twist and turns. The action was intense and the fight scenes were well written. The author is definitely a rising star in fantasy.

Any time there's a book about a troop of half-orcs riding giant hogs and protecting the hinterlands of civilization, count me in! French has given us an absolutely awesome tale of sword and magic and fantasy, that stands out because of its stark realism. It's not a tale of noble princes and rescuing princesses. It's how a troop of toughs would talk to each other and deal with each other. The joking, the bantering, the trust, the distrust. The bastards with their half-orc blood are all that stands against hell being unleashed. There was nothing about this terrific tale that was not worthwhile. An entire world was created in this novel, harsh, brutish, and amazing. This is a fantasy book not written for kids, but for adults. Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

This is a spectacular, pulse-pounding fantasy novel that is full of wonderful characters, sensational fight scenes, and ever expanding intrigue - all set in a world that breathes life and mythos. The story is stunningly complex; it starts out simple and then spirals out to catastrophic levels without it ever feeling like the author has lost control of his tale. French keeps it all in check much like the Hoofs do the giant hogs they ride... Which reminds me of another detail I loved: they literally ride hogs. There are tons of little details like this interwoven into the story that make it both real and a fantasy lover's dream. This is the kind of gem that I read this genre hoping to find. It more than lives up to the hype and I can't recommend it enough.

A trio of friends, a destined hero, a quest replete with evil plots, villains, mysterious outsiders, magical creatures, wizards, and more...all adding up to one very entertaining tale! I thoroughly enjoyed this story, devouring it in only 2 days, and look forward to its sequel.


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