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Publisher's Summary

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

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 front lines 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 heard before.

©2018 Jonathan French (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"A filthy, charismatic and frankly excellent read." (Mark Lawrence, international best-selling author of Prince of Thorns and Red Sister)

"A terrific and highly original epic fantasy debut...French's half-orcs, halflings, centaurs, and others have rich histories and folklore, giving the work depth while never getting in the way of the fun. Excellent fantasy fare on all levels." (Publishers Weekly)

"French flips the fantasy script as the monsters become the good guys, fueling an action-packed, sneakily smart adventure. Half orc and all badass, Jackal is a hero you won't soon forget." (Scott Sigler, New York Times best-selling author of Alive and Infected)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Flawless

most days, after a long day in the salt mines the only thing I want to put in my ears is grandmother's icepick. I then found The Grey Bastards and now there are two things. for fans of Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch, Sam Sykes, and any other authors of dark, gritty fantasy with. an oxcart full of black humor and well defined and represented characters. this nifty collection of words elicited many genuine LOLs from me and I quickly became invested in these wonderfully unique half orc antiheros. Author has created a refreshingly new fantasy world that I can not get enough of. buy this book.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Even for a fantasy book, this not believable.

The writing is good but the characters are horribly written. Without spoiling much, let me explain. Imagine you are a strong warrior & an orc killer. Then, your brother that you dearly love since childhood wants to kill you on a whim for no good reason. As in no argument, nothing. Just because. Just on a whim. And imagine your reaction to that is wishing that he doesn't get hurt in the act of killing you, while you lay down to make it easier for him. If such weak characters annoy you, I would suggest you avoid this book. If senseless melodrama & romance is what you seek, where characters, who are described as veteran warriors, make emotional decisions like a child as opposed to a normal person, you would love this book.

I was fooled by the 5 star reviews and wasted my money on this one. So I'm leaving my review here for people who enjoy strong characters to not be tricked like I was.

26 of 35 people found this review helpful

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Fun, and original.

The premise of this book was original and well executed. The foul language and treatment of gender are far more reflective of what I would imagine for the cultural context of the book. This doesn't mean that I didn't find the treatment of women at times offensive only that this attitude and treatment fits the world these characters live in.

Overal I recommend the book for how it blends several genres and tropes into something enjoyable and original.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Gritty... believable... compelling...

Loved this novel! Gritty world with harsh realities and characters that seem realistic. They have flaws and perspectives and even impure motives. Tough dangerous protagonists that don't have all the answers... hell they don't even have all the questions....so refreshing to have a fantasy novel where the characters are competent yet not omniscient. We like to see the heros deal with real-world problems like a real person and not like an idealized caricature. This is a great story, well-executed and paced exactly right. The story leaves you wanting more while still wrapping up everything that happens nicely enough so that there's no resort to the cheap trick of a cliffhanger. I will definitely be buying the next books in the series and looking forward to enjoying them and hopefully many, many more works from this author.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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different and very good!

The tagline caught my eye for a book for my boyfriend. A chapter in, he insisted I listen too. I'm very glad I did.

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Orginal and entertaining!

I originally wasn't sure about a story about half orcs, but I was happily proven wrong and enjoyed this story. It did get a little slow in certain parts of the story but quickly picked up before I got bored with it. has a little bit of everything in it, magic, monsters, and a hero that seems more human than most (funny considering he is a half orc)

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Unfortunate

I will premise this by saying all I have is really a first impression. I gave up on the book about 3 chapters in. That said, I love the concept of this story and the writing seemed solid, but the narrator was very boring to me. I had a hard time feeling immersed in the story as he read it.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Fantasy at its finest

I loved the Grey Bastards. This is anything you could want in a fantasy story. A rich, fully imagined world full of brilliantly realized and fully alive characters. It's perfectly paced and beautifully written. Full of twists and turns, I'm eagerly awaiting more from Jonathan French!

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Live in the saddle, die on the hog!

Incredible book, well read and performed. Felt a lot like Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Stories meets fantasy. Very exciting, cut-throat, and back-stabby. I’m ready for sequels.

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    4 out of 5 stars

A Military Book in a fantasy setting

A great story that that keeps you ingrossed. Beware of the foul language, the characters speak like any group of enlisted men and woman I ever met, foul mothed and cock sure. The author really nailed that.

Only issue I see is having to wait for a sequel!