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The Grey Bastards

The Lot Lands
Narrated by: Will Damron
Series: The Lot Lands, Book 1
Length: 17 hrs and 47 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (334 ratings)

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Summary

Bring on the orcs....

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 civilisation 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.

A standout adventure fantasy debut that's down, dirty and damn good fun - perfect for fans of Joe Abercombie, Mark Lawrence, Markus Heitz's Dwarves series and Stan Nicholl's Orcs series.

©2018 Jonathan French (P)2018 Hachette Audio UK

Critic reviews

"Filthy, charismatic, and frankly excellent." (Mark Lawrence)

"A bloody tale of battle, betrayal and war pigs." (Brian McClellan)

"Jonathan French has to be lauded for his plot ingenuity, bawdry charm and vicious characters. The Grey Bastards has instantaneously catapulted him into my must-read list." (Fantasy Book Critic)

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Hells Angels on Pigs - With Added Style!

This is quite a book, it's full of big brawling characters! These half orcs are like a gang of Hells Angels but they sit astride huge hogs rather than Harleys! As you'd expect with half orcs they are coarse, vicious in battle and not exactly the kind of person you would want your son or daughter bringing home to meet! The early part of the book majors on that but they are half human too and French gives them some of humanity's nobler traits as well in a very compelling mix. Of course being out in what is effectively a Wild West they have their own harsh culture too and the "Hoof" Jackal and his fellow warriors ride in have real purpose and strong traditions.

The early part of the book felt to me like it was going to be a good, solid read, amusing in parts with its crudeness and entertaining with its action. But around halfway it really takes off and develops layers and complexity. It becomes clear that French has planted plot points and the seeds for later twists throughout. Characters that might have appeared to be mere bit parts come back to play fuller roles, little is quite as it seems and the lead protagonist Jackal repeatedly has his eyes opened to new possibilities and realities. It really is an interesting ride with lots of clever twists and turns.

The book's own story is an interesting one, originally self-published it won awards from bloggers and plaudits from readers. So much so that it was p-p-picked up by a Penguin and as a result is here for us to enjoy. It's somehow apt that the author's persistence and belief in himself is mirrored in some of his characters.

The narration by Will Damron gave me a similar experience. It felt solid to start with but I couldn't help but think maybe a more demonstrative reader could have put more life into these raucous half-orcs. However, as the characters gathered depth and developed from caricature to more complex individuals I realised he had struck pretty much the perfect tone.

In many ways this is a gloriously foul riot of a book but the story is that good as it develops through the second half that it would be foolish to write it off as just being about crudity and swearing. There is plenty of that and if you don't like swearing and vulgarity you should probably avoid this one. However, there is also great depth, imagination and subtlety to both the plot and the characters making it a hugely satisfying listen.

22 of 22 people found this review helpful

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Absolutely frikkin' fantastic!

Humour, grit and heart galore. LOVED it!

I heard great things but I often do. This time it was true. Characters you can get behind, mystery and twists, betrayals and friendships old and new. Colourful worldbuilding and a fantastic story. Prepare yourself for lots of combat, magic and characters you won't want to leave behind.

I want more!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Great read

Loved this book. Audible need to get the rest of the series. Highly recommended by me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Surprisingly Fantastic

This book was brilliant, once I got used to the writing style I couldn't stop until I was finished. And a fantastic finish that I really felt not going to give ANYTHING away here. The narration was so different from the last book I listened to it took me a chapter or 2 to get a feel for it. But once I did I was hooked. A must read or listen for any fantasy fan.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A biker gang but with half-orcs!

I was really enjoying the story until I realised it was just Sons of Anarchy but with half-orcs.

Interesting characters, decent plot and some funny bits. Didn't realise it was only pt 1. Not sure if I'd rush back for the next part.

Decent world-building and a plot that moves at a good pace. Worth a try.

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A rough and ready romp...

A well written romp with a group of likeable characters.

I can't wait for the next book!

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Great hidden gem. Surprisingly fresh and original

A different take on the fantasy genre. The main characters give a perspective of depth and complexity from what is often seen as the "bad" side.

The story is well written and the narration is well presented.

Definitely recommend this!

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Exceptional

Most stories are predictable but "The Grey Bastards" has a wonderful sinuous plot that defies expectation.No mere middle earth derived spin off but great writing.Action packed with characters you really come to care for.Roll on "The True Bastards"

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Absolute D and D perfection.

I enjoyed this book so much. Great adventure and definite adult take on the genre. Down and dirty magic, swords, combat, and skullduggery all wrapped up in an awesome plot with great characters and humour. Perfect. More please.

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fantastic!

fast paced, gritty, laugh out loud funny :) Loved it!!!! Can't wait for the next one