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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"A dirty, blood-soaked gem of a novel [that reads] like Mad Max set in Tolkien's Middle Earth. A fantasy masterwork."--Kirkus Reviews (starred)

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

Well paced and well written this book was an extremely easy and entertaining read. It is not my usual genre but I am so glad I read it. It was excellent world building without being to info dumping. It is vulgar and overly sexual but the plot twists kept it moving and interesting!

A book that I liked far more than I thought I would. It's a well paced and well written delight of a novel with a lot of aspects to like about it. It's definitely worth reading for any fantasy fans.

I didn’t expect to fall in love with this book. It’s not my usual genre but I thought I would give it a shot and I’m so glad I did. It has such rich world building and history without that feeling of being overwhelmed by facts and knowledge. It’s vulgar, hilarious, and pretty fast paced as there were several plot twists that kept the story from growing stale. Would definitely recommend and can’t wait to read his next book in the series.

What a deliciously crude, brutal and downright fabulous book this is! It tells the story of Jackal, a half-orc member of the Grey Bastards, who ride their hogs (actual hogs, not motorbikes btw) through the badlands, defending their hoof. When a wizard shows up at the Kiln, all manner of things kick off with just awesome results. Firstly, if you liked Sons of Anarchy, you will love this book. The hoof is so reminiscent of the motorcycle gangs depicted in that series, in that you have empathy and enjoy spending time with characters that are, ostensibly, criminals. The world building here is really strong, with well defined geography and interesting representations of the different common fantasy characters - elves, orcs, wizards and such. The plot is compelling and intricate and the prose is clean and concise moving the narrative along at a pretty exhausting pace. What I really enjoyed was the interplay between Jackal, Oats and Fetch. the dialogue was fast paced and really natural - I believed their relationships, which is a great credit to the author. All in all, this is a great book and I am now hankering after the next instalment. I received a free copy of this book from First to Read in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I tried so many times to read this book, but just could not get into it. I only managed to get about 20% of the way through before the file expired. So all comments can only address what little of the novel I managed to read. After the first couple chapters the action was solid and well paced. The world building was decent and an interesting and morally nuanced conflict was being established. I think the characters were set up with some room for growth and development. But as a few other reviewers have said, French does not write women. Hyper-masculinity and female stereotypes, women are almost exclusively seen as sex objects or servants, fine, whatever, but to what end? I will never know because I will probably never read the end.

The Lots Dog Fall Tyrkania The Tines Ul-wundulas Hispartha The Sludge Man Crafty Wizards The Plaque Elves Orcs Half-Orcs Mongrel Hogs Hearth Gray Bastards The Hoof The Claymaster Warbler Jackal Oats Fetch Mead Polecat Hobnail Beryl Leadership Chiefs Seat Voting Axes Stump “Live in the saddle!” “Die on the hog!” Some may remember an image of The Sons, Sons of Anarchy at a table with one leader and men casting votes, replace them with half Orcs and axes thrown to vote, and replace the bikes with Hogs, their steeds of war, and you have a different world, different rules, enter The Grey Bastards. The fact that they survive is a blessing and a show of love, as half breeds their human mothers, raped by orcs, let them live. One main character Jack he is a frightening, fearless, bold fighter. One of many Half-orcs riders of Hogs, servants of war. Their battles and road told of a few contained in this story, servants of war on hogs in a hoof, fighting to keep their lives and land. A warning to reader their will be plenty profanities and fightings within. A wide epic tale of survival and mayhem with memorable characters and great world building.

Orcs are bad!! Evil! Stupid!! Hahahahhha Not this time. They are fun and so very human!!! This was one of the best fantasy novel that I have read in a long time!!! 5 out of 5

The Grey Bastards are one of several half-orc band patrolling the wasteland between orc territory and the human kingdoms. Looked down upon, the product of rape, usually abandoned at birth, they were once slaves. Now they exist in a tenuous peace, a buffer between the orcs and the humans. But the history they have been taught hides some ugly lies, the consequence of which are about to catch up with them, and plunge their world into war. The Bastards are, understandably, a rough lot. They swear, visit brothels, fight, and insult everyone colorfully. But underneath that is a loyalty to each other, a fierce determination to protect their home, and a backhanded kindness to everyone else. Even as abandoned and reviled as they are, they work to protect, risking their own lives. A fast-paced, battle packed story, with plenty of intrigue, magic, and even a little love.

I received an advanced copy of this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review. This book was great! It is a fantasy book where the main characters are half-orcs. Definitely meant for adults. I immediately wanted to know more about the three main characters and the half-orc society. Some parts were slow, but definitely worth it for the unexpected twists and turns.

I feel like this is a book you will either love or hate. I loved it. The description says it all "raunchy, swaggering, cunningly clever adventure."

I thought that since I've played MMOs in the past, I would enjoy reading this novel. But I didn't like it. It was crass and vulgar and I didn't really like the storyline.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This book was incredible, from the characters to the story. I cannot say how enjoyable of a read this book was. The story follows a group of half orc, half humans known as the grey bastards, as the patrol the area that separates the orc land from the human land. Enter into a world of corruption, where nothing is at it seems. The world building was pheonamal, it feels as if the reader was truly transported into this world. I loved the realism, and behavior of the characters. Even though the characters are half orc, they felt real, and I enjoyed seeing how the characters development progressed as the story went on. The story is dark, gritty, and fast paced. I cannot say enough great things about this book. If you love adult dark fantasies, definitely put this book on your list!!

I had a lot of fun reading this book. It is filthy, violent, vulgar, and downright mean at times. It's also smart, funny, and well crafted. The characters are great. They have personality and the things the want actually matter to the story being told. Now, the book does tend to focus on just a few of these characters. The potential exists for some great stories down the road. And that is part of what I liked about the Grey Bastards so much. This book is self contained and yet it can develop into something more with additional stories in the same setting. It is believable and interesting. I wanted Jackal to succeed and want to see more from him. I think this book was able to set itself apart from other fantasy books while utilizing elements that can draw in fans of the genre.

What a book. It was like reading a Tolkien book where some of the Orcs were the good guys and I found myself rooting for them. Definitely a rip roaring Not Safe For Work kind of book and I loved it.

I would say that this book is written for people who like fantasy and cards against humanity. This book is not for kids at all. It is crude, full of language, violent, contains a large amount of sexual content, and is a hell of a lot of fun to read. Instead of a human centric story, the main characters are half orcs who are primarily the result of orcs raping humans. They have been placed in the lot lands away from humans and are charged with protecting the human kingdom. All this is true bit it isn't the heart of the story. The book starts at full throttle with a clash at a whorehouse. The main character, Jackal, is an overconfident orc with a lot of bravery, but lacking in discretion. The book follows his journey as he discovers the truth about half orcs, his clan, and his friends. I don't want to spoil too much, but this is great world building and just so much fun. There are orcs, wizards, centaurs, dwarves, sludge monsters, humans, and of course half orcs. They are all distinct and enrich the story. Highly recommend if you like fantasy or apparently sons of anarchy. I have never seen it, bit did pick up the motorcycle gang vibe.

This book has a really interesting germ of an idea, great mechanical writing and likable characters. But I'd not recommend it to anyone and I would suggest women run for the hills, rather than read it. My problem isn't just the distinct lack of women with agency in the book. After all, epic fantasy has had a dearth of women since forever. (With one token and problematic exception, which I'll address, every single one of them is a whore, a "bedwarmer," or a rape victim. We're explicitly told women can't stay at The Kiln unless their bedwarmers. There are NO other options presented for women.) It's not even the fact that I don't think the word woman is used even once in the book. Every time a female is referred to she is a gash, a slash, cunny, cunt, pussy, coin purse, quims, slit, (and those are just the ones I remember) even in distinctly unisexual context. Women are denied their humanity from the first page to the last. (And yes, I get that their not all human, but you take my point.) Additionally, rape is an everyday reality of the book. Every half-orc, the whole race the book is about, is the get of orcs raping human woman. No woman is ever shown to have an opinion on who has sex with her and it's understood that half-orcs rape on a pretty regular basis. Even the hero has a rather protracted rape fantasy about a helpless elf-girl (who's already been repeatedly raped by a group of 7ft orcs, a sludge djinn and at least one soldier/slaver, though I'd assume he shared with his men too.) and thinks, "This is the sort of man The Grey Bastards need, one who takes what he wants. He doesn't get around to doing it, but he also isn't remorseless at his thoughts. It's all this plus the fact that the males constantly make dick jokes and tease each other about sex (usually at the expense of the woman involved), AND how often it's dropped into conversation: "It's not like we'll be sitting there eating grapes and letting virgins suck our cocks." Is a paraphrased example (since I didn't mark it) of how one character describes whether their group will achieve something. virgins sucking cocks isn't necessary to make the point. Even worse, the single token exception to the place of women in Fetching. So named because women are  only good for two things, "fucking and fetching," (direct quote). She's a warrior, sure, but she's constantly reminded by the leader and his followers that she wasn't wanted and verbally harrassed with things like, "If you're tounge's not around my cock, I have no use for it." (This when she asked a question.) This was in addition to the good-natured sexual teasing of her friends that might have been funny if it didn't feel so much like just more of the same, when considered with everything else. Worse, she had to pretend to be a lesbian to fill this role. She had to metaphorically remove herself from the ranks of women to be allowed to be anything but a walking pussy (or ass, apparently whores love it up the ass). Because if she was sexually available to anyone, she'd apparently have to be available to everyone. So the logic apparently goes. Thus, she had to be defrocked of male-female sexuality entirely to be anything but a whore (by any name). This isn't a romance. It's not a book about lust or sex, in fact all references to sex could be removed without changing the plot a single iota, but it is so pervasive in the book that it takes over. And as a female reader, who is given no place in the book, no one to relate to, it started to feel like a slap in the face. Would I be a gash, you think, or a coin purse? Maybe I'd be lucky enough to be chosen as someone's bedwarmer, the most I could aspire to. Because apparently I couldn't EVER be anything else. And sure an author can construct their world anyway they like, it's artistic and creative license. But writing a world in which women are wholly subjugated  and reduced to nothing but their sex (and it belonging to men), isn't creative or imaginative. It's trite and boring. It's been done and done and done. It's frankly either lazy or that author's juvenile want fodder. The sad thing is that if a lot of it had been tempered, such that I did't almost feel freaking attacked as a female reader, I'd have loved the crude humor and rough language. I liked the Grey Bastards. I liked the political intrigue. I liked the plot. Hell, if it had all the sexual innuendo it has, but women weren't presented as existing solely as holes to be fucked but as equal participants, I'd still have loved it. But call me a snowflake, I (the universal I of womanhood) don't want to be the butt of ever single joke, probably rape jokes at that. It totally ruined an otherwise awesome fantasy. As an aside, I just love how many reviews refer to the book as "gritty and realistic." Can we cue appellations from men who hold the same mindset of women as sexual objects as the author? Unless of course they mean the marauding centaurs or war-hog riding half-orcs. All in all, I don't recommend this book to anyone. I hate to say it, but it's true. And I especially don't recommend it to women. I honestly think it takes it's sexist streak so far as to be harmful.

This fantasy story follows Jackal, half human, half orc, who belongs to the outcast Grey Bastards. They patrol their Lots land, an area between the human city and the enemies. After a great war, all the land was divided up between elves, halflngs, centaurs, orcs, humans and the Bastards. When a friend kills a human Calvary guard, a cover up is put in place but it just starts to spiral out for Jackal as he tries to make sense out of what is happening around him and what is the best course of action to save all that he holds dear. An epic adventure with wizards, a warriors healing power, battles, loyalty and treachery abound. Thank you First-to-Read for this free e-copy of "The Grey Bastards".

You ask of Ul-wundulas? Yes, friend, I know of that wretched land, having only recently escaped from it. It lies in the west, north of Dhar'gest, the land of the orc, and south of Hispartha where dwells humankind. Thirty years ago Ul-wundulas was a battleground. There orc and human armies waged war the like of which I hope will never be again. Those armies stripped away the forest, destroyed almost all habitations and left behind a barren, arid and rocky land. With little to attract any folk, save marauding bands of orcs, Hispartha had the few bands of fighters living there draw lots for large parcels of land; thus Ul-wundulas became also known as The Lot lands. It was there I met Jackal, a soldier for the hoof known as "The Grey Bastards." Oh, a "hoof" is a group of half-orc cavalrymen who ride enormous pigs that they call barbarians. Well, they fight any foe that threatens their Lot; orcs and centaurs mainly. There are several other hoofs besides The Grey Bastards, and they do help one another at times, but primarily it is every hoof against the world. I advise you not to go, but since you seem determined to venture into that vast, unhospitable madness try to find Jackal, he is a most resourceful guide. Find the Kiln, which is the fortress of The Grey Bastards, and there you should find Jackal. No, do not mention my name, and don't tell him who recommended him as a guide. That will only make him suspicious and garner you a beating most likely. Fare thee well. "The Grey Bastards" is a ripping yarn, filled with unforgettable characters and fueled by testosterone. Violence, humor, salacious language and sex make this an adult fantasy, the likes of which I have never encountered in a lifetime filled with books. It isn't fine literature, and I am not going to feel the slightest shame when I say that I enjoyed it immensely. Furthermore, I recommend it very strongly to manly men and sexy women. Mark this one "For Mature Readers Only," please! My thanks to Penguin Random House for the Advance Reader's Copy on which I have based this review.

Jonathan French is a clever bastard. THE GREY BASTARDS is intricately plotted, masterfully unraveled. He created a varied world populated with different peoples and creatures. Yet what truly won me over was the cast of characters he assembled--varied, engaging, entertaining, sympathetic, frustrating, endearing. Each one is singular, bringing something unique to the narrative. They may be half or thrice orcs or elves but they are all absolutely human, given to human frailties, making mistakes left and right--mistakes borne of pride, blind self-interest, desire for accolade. They are also equally susceptible to making mistakes borne out of love--of friends, of chosen family, of species, of land. Moreover, they are as likely to think with their cocks—or quims—as they are with their brains or their heart. Jackal is a strong, fiercely loyal half-orc, painfully impatient. “Waiting isn't much of a virtue.” Yet he is also not a 'chosen one', not an altruistic saint—he is horny, foul-mouthed, nakedly ambitious, too-clever-for-his-own-good. Oats is equally horny and foul-mouthed but even more good-natured, courageous and loyal. Fetch—the only female Bastard—is ferociously independent, mindfully possessive of every inch of ground she has gained in her male-dominated world. Claymaster—the leader of the Bastards—bears scars of a harrowing past, with a burning desire not to return to it. “Retribution does not sour, apparently.” Beryl, the tireless mother to all the Bastards, perhaps their most powerful source of strength. And so many others who deserve distinct mention and recognition if it wouldn't be spoilery and TMI in a review. But the hogs do deserve separate mention. The relationship between the half/thrice orcs and their hogs is almost symbiotic, more than merely beast and rider. They are friends, companions, comrades in arms. The hogs may not have any dialogue but they have their own personalities that speak volumes. They are prideful creatures possessing courage, pride, even humor. French also bastardly, i.e. adeptly, crafted our heroes' foes who are not mere caricatures of evil. Seen from different vantage points, our heroes and foes all seek to do some good and they are all courageous and willing to fight. There is reason and rationale for their actions, choices, decisions--good or bad. Where they differ is the nature of the sacrifice they are willing to make to achieve their goals--whether they are willing to sacrifice themselves or others, whether they fight primarily for themselves or for others, whether they lead from the frontlines or lead others from a safe distance, whether they see others' lives as equally valuable. Sometimes, too, friends becomes foes, foes become friends. “Seek potent allies and you shall find the most grievous of your future foes.” “Live in the saddle. Die on the hog.” The Bastards live by this creed with the nice corollary: "You fight forever if you fight in the end." Or the variation: “Live in the battle. Die in a fury.” It is an exhortation to never surrender, to die if one must but to die fighting. THE GREY BASTARDS is also marked by exceptional writing—clear, concise, descriptive, emotive, sophisticated. The world takes shape not only by way of straightforward descriptions: “Now that you are here, you can see this land for what it is. A nasty old quilt. Ugly, hot, dry, infested, and made up of many clashing patches.” “Lands weren't separated by names alone, they possessed their own natures, their own spirits.” The battles are extensive, detailed, immersive. French knows how to emphasize the stakes: “With the morning came the will to live fueled by the illusion that survival was possible, that fighting would be worth a damn. It was a cruel lie.” THE GREY BASTARDS also has one of the most poignant descriptions of valiant motherhood I've read: “Jackal turned to look at her. Decades of raising children had inured Beryl to fatigue. She fed off of it, an aged tree grown strong from a lifetime of storms. As their eyes met, one half of Jackal wanted to rest his head on her and succumb to sleep, the other half found a third wind in her presence. She stirred the boy to seek solace and encouraged the man to steel himself. They both wanted the boy to win.” Read TGB if you want to be moved. Read TGB if you want to laugh. Read TGB is you want to cry. Read TGB if you simply want to read a great story.

The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French was an entertaining read. I found it to be a well written fantasy novel, generally what you would expect for the orc and wizard genre of fantasy. The story was good and most of the characters interesting and well written, fast paced with coherent world building. A lot to really like for fans of fantasy. My complaints would include how poorly written the female characters were, a lot of sexist stereotypes. And the humor, while often funny, was almost entirely of the frat house/locker room variety, an amazing number of dick (cod in the parlance of the book) jokes. Also, found it problematic that the 'bad' wizard wore a turban and had an arabic sounding name. Yes, these fit the world of the novel, but still took me out of fully enjoying the story. What was really great in the Grey Bastards, the battle scenes! I often find that battle writing gets confusing and hard to follow, but Jonathon French is outstanding at it. The battle scenes are exciting and tense and perfectly convey the confusion and heat of battle while at the same time keeping a clear narrative. I really enjoyed the battle scenes, some of the best I've read in the genre. I would recommend the Grey Bastards to any reader who loves the orc/wizard fantasy genre.

The Grey Bastards is a great fantasy novel. It is very well written, full of exciting scenes and gut wrenching decisions. I read a lot of fantasy and this is definitely one of the best fantasy worlds I have ever had the pleasure to read. I highly recommend this book. I want to thank first to read for giving me an advanced readers copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The Grey Bastards is a fantasy novel about a group of half orc warriors. The main character in the novel is a half orc named Jackel. He has a desire to be the chief of his hoof. His two best friends are Oats, a thrice blood, and Fetching, a half orc, with a secret that you will discover when you read the book. The bastards chief is an old half orc named The Claymaster and when a half orc wizard comes to the Kiln, the home of the Bastards, things get very interesting for Jackel. If you like fantasy books that are dark and dirty, brutal and full of heart, you won’t find a better book to read. Can’t wait for book 2 to come out. I will be reading it as soon as it hits the shelves.

This was a good book but I did have a very hard time getting into the story. The characters were well written and interacted well. There were plot twist along the way and for awhile you only knew you could trust one or two of the main characters. The story (in my opinion) did drag along as some points, and at other points when I wanted the story to drag it sped along and I got a little lost. Overall I would give this book a 7.5 out of 10.

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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