The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French – A Book Review

The Grey Bastards



Jackal is proud to be a Grey Bastard, member of a sworn brotherhood of half-orcs. Unloved and unwanted in civilized society, the Bastards eke out a hard life in the desolate no-man’s-land called the Lots, protecting frail and noble human civilization from invading bands of vicious full-blooded orcs.

But as Jackal is soon to learn, his pride may be misplaced. Because a dark secret lies at the heart of the Bastards’ existence – one that reveals a horrifying truth behind humanity’s tenuous peace with the orcs, and exposes a grave danger on the horizon.

On the heels of the ultimate betrayal, Jackal must scramble to stop a devastating invasion – even as he wonders where his true loyalties lie.

Author: Jonathan French

Publisher: Orbit

Release Date: 19/06/2018

Pages: 434

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Lot Lands #1

My Chosen Format: Kindle

My Rating of ‘The Grey Bastards’: 5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon, Audible


This is one of those books that I looked at, knew I’d want to read but just never felt like I was in the mood for it. If you’re feeling that way, push those (quite clearly wrong) thoughts aside and pick it up. This book gives you that special something you’ve been missing in your literary life up until now: Lusty half-orc biker gangs that ride hogs instead of motorcycles.Ā 

I know, it sounds a bit ‘out there’, but trust me when I say that you need this blend of strange brilliance in your life. I didn’t know I needed it, but I did. And now it’s finished, I need more.

I honestly don’t know where to start with this one as I enjoyed it so much. It was a breath of fresh air that doesn’t quite feel like anything else I’ve read and I’m thrilled to bits because of that. It has the potential to offend some readers with delicate sensibilities, so if that’s you, it’s probably best to avoid the ‘you need this in your life’ hook I dangled out there. If this is you, why in the world were you looking at dark fantasy anyway? Shame on you and your delicate sensibilities.

Jonathan French takes us on a wild ride that leads to such destinations as hope, betrayal, bitterness and downright awesomeness. The language used, combined with the comradery of the half-orcs gives the novel a very authentic feel. So much so that, after about halfway through, you forget that half-orcs riding large hogs aren’t a thing that exists. It’s a very easy book to read and and even easier book to get hooked on and lose yourself in. The world building is strong enough to feel perfectly real, but not super-in depth that it feels like the author has put more work into that than the plot. The pacing is also pretty perfect. I just can’t really think of anything I could point at and say ‘nope, that wasn’t done very well at all,’ because everything just worked so well.

I rarely find myself overly invested to the point where a book makes me grin when something I want to happen happens, but I felt myself grinning like a fool at parts of this. So, well done Jonathan French for your immersive storytelling. I felt like an honourary member of the hoof whilst reading this .

The characters are wonderfully done and easy to associate with. There’s literally someone for everyone in this book and I found myself absolutely loving Oats most of all. The author also does a wonderful job of making you think you know what’s going on (I mean, it’s so obvious) only for the obvious thing not to happen and you thinking yourself a fool for thinking it ever would.

I look forward to getting into the sequel at some point later this year.

Last year, I was really not enjoying fantasy and thought I’d struggle to ever enjoy the genre again. It’s authors like Jonathan French, and books like this one, that have given me a love for the genre again.

13 thoughts on “The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French – A Book Review

      1. Yeah, it is. She’s a cool character, should be a good main, will miss Jackal though. The length is my issue with the sequel, it’s a good 200 pages longer and the shorter length with the first book worked well, really well. If I read it I’d probably love it, definitely one to get too at some point in the future.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s 200 pages longer? That’s insane. Grey Bastards was over 400.

        Ah well, I’ve been reading the longer books more recently. So maybe I can keep my pace up. Currently reading through Shadow of the Gods. Liking it so far (just hit the 50% mark)

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yeah, about 650. Which, to be fair is about the normal fantasy length so it’s not that long, but the shorter length and fast pace of the first worked really well and partly made the book so good. It’s also supposed to be really slow in the beginning too.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Happy to see you enjoyed it so much! šŸ˜€
    I know I didn’t, and not because of delicate sensibilities šŸ˜œ I did mind the language, it was over the top IMO, but the main thing for me was that it was a story I read a hundred times before – just without the half-orcs and hogs šŸ˜‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I attempted it two or so years ago but wasn’t feeling it then. I blamed it on my mood because I felt myself rushing through it and ended up DNF’ing it. I keep intending to go back to it, though.

    Liked by 1 person

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