The Grey Bastards

A Novel
Narrated by: Will Damron
Series: The Lot Lands, Book 1
Length: 17 hrs and 47 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (549 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

“[A] fantasy masterwork.... 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 review)

Jackal 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.

 Praise for The Grey Bastards“Saddle up the war boar and set off on a wild, gory thrill-ride that ends in an awesome climax and begs for a sequel.” (Daily Mail, UK

“Non-stop action, though not for faint hearts.... The Grey Bastards live up to their name in all respects.” (The Wall Street Journal)

©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 funny thing happens when reading The Grey Bastards. You’re rolling along, smiling at the novelties on display, but then, almost without warning, you find yourself truly in the world French has created, and it all becomes wonderfully familiar and convincing. The world-building creates exactly the kind of seamless transition that makes fantasy literature compelling, informative, and just plain fun.” (R.A. Salvatore, New York Times best-selling author of The Legend of Drizzt)

"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)

"Refashions high-fantasy tropes into something both vibrant and highly entertaining..a fantasy take on Sons of Anarchy might seem an unlikely starting point for an excellent novel, but Jonathan French manages it with considerable aplomb." (Anthony Ryan, New York Times best-selling author of the Raven's Shadow trilogy)

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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.

12 people found this 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.

48 people found this helpful

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Was this written by a high schooler?

Listening to this book was like listening to a child try to act mature. I imagine a child asking themselves what differentiates a child’s language from an adult’s, and arriving at swearing and sex. In the first chapter we get a soulless and cliche fantasy reproduction of cops harassing minorities, we get dick jokes, we get muscles described as “frightfully compact.” Unless you’re talking about a missile or something venomous what the hell is going to be so small it’s scary? Nothing, that’s what. So how do you except muscles, of all things, to be frightening because they’re small?

This book is like a Netflix anime’s idea of maturity; it isn’t intelligent, it isn’t subtle, it isn’t refined, it isn’t cool; it’s the difference between a PG and R rating, and really disappointing. I like stories about outcasts, about oppressed groups dealing with oppressors, and would have liked to have liked a book about half-orc soldiers riding hogs. But not like this. Not like this.

1 person found this helpful

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The Scribblings Review of The Grey Bastards

Jackal is a Bastard, and proud of it.
One of several groups sworn to protect the hostile Lot Lands, these half-orcs patrol the area on their giant war hogs; fighting, carousing and generally behaving more like a gang than knights.

Orcs are often given short shrift in fantasy, portrayed as blood-thirsty savage creatures. Jackal and his cohorts, especially his two closest friends, while certainly capable of extreme violence are warm, mostly likable frequently funny. The bantering conversations between the three of them is a highlight.

Jackel, for all his qualities; strong, protective, loyal to his friends, is definitely flawed. Less an unreliable narrator and more of an unsophisticated one; he has a tendency to take everyone he meets on his pre-conceived notions and is frequently unwilling to listen to any opinion that contrasts with his own. Only when he is forced to by the actions (and the history) of others, does he reassess his thoughts.

The world building involved in this book is both fascinating and unexpected. The Bastards, and other groups of half-orcs, call themselves hoofs, and live by the creed of "Live in the saddle, die on the hog'; both by virtue of their war-hogs. These hogs are treated less like disposable mounts (a la many other fantasy novels involving horses) and more like beloved pets. The patterning of them after biker gangs seems almost inevitable.

Given the violence and language involved with this story, it's not necessarily going to be for everyone. But if that won't trouble you, I wholeheartedly recommend this book.

1 person found this helpful

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Really fun

Really enjoyed this story, sort of a dark lord of the rings, ending was a little “pc” but still fun.

1 person found this helpful

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Need Moar!!

I blew through this one! Well narrated, well written. Grabbed me from chapter 1 and finished strong. Worth the credit 100x over!

1 person found this 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 people found this 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 people found this helpful

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Masterful, riveting, exciting

In ‘The Grey Bastards’, Jonathan French has built us a world that is harsh to the inhabitants and keeps us riveted to the story. The land is populated by orcs, half orcs, centurions, fae, a religious society of humans, and frails (humans). After a great war, the land is divided into lots. Many of the humans live in settlements under the protection of the half orcs.

It is a very male, misogynistic dominated society. The half manta orcs patrol the land boarders and protect the humans from invasions by the orcs and centurions. The life cycle of the society revolves around fighting, riding, mentoring young boys to fight, caring for mounts, strengthening the camaraderie among the riders and sex. Their mantra is live in the saddle, die on the hog. The hog is the beast the warriors ride. There are a lot of dick jokes and the word f**k is used as a verb, noun and adjective. It is a world of brawn vs brains and penises over vaginas.

The main characters are childhood friends Jackal, Fetching and Oats. Jackal is the brains with the desire for change. Oats is the brawn with the size to rival an orc. Fetching is the only female rider and has a take no prisoners attitude. Their actions at a brothel precipitate the story.

It is a fast-paced story with plenty of action, there is all kinds of banter and the plot is not predictable.

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Get ready for a wild ride!

What a wild hog ride this story is. Lots of raunchy fun, intermingled with political power plays, and deception galore.
I can say I can't remember a slow spot in this uniquely original escape from reality. How can I explain a book about half-orcs riding around on hogs, supposedly protecting the lands from invading orcs and centaurs. Adding to that a dubious wizard, a captive elf girl, a plague ridden chieftain, some of the foulest-mouthed dialogue I've heard, and ending up with a memorable tale you just have to experience.