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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 (431 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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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

23 people found this 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 people found this helpful

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Great read

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

2 people found this helpful

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Disappointing

There might be a good story in here if your can cope with the author objectifying the only significant female character and all of the minute ones and talking constantly there breasts and arses.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Even the book cover is like sons of anarchy.

Can’t stop listening but SOA must have a legal case against the author. Seriously google the SOA and check out the series cover comparison to the book cover !! It doesn't stop there, with character names like jackal, Claymaster and Oates similar to SOA characters Jacks, Clay and Opie you've go to wonder where Jonathan French came up with the idea! Other similarities but I wouldn't want to be picky! Still great though and I want a Hog / Harley !

1 person found this helpful

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I took a gamble choosing this book...

...and how fortunate I was! At first glance I didn't think I would enjoy this book: Half-orcs as the good guys, and narrated by an American. (My experience with American authors is they are often fairly 'serious' with their narration and this can stifle the ability to bring the book to life.) So, I read a few reviews and trusted them. Most notably, Simon 25/06/2018, JPA 30/10/2018 and Amazon Customer 07/03/2019. I must thank them for leaving well-written honest reviews. I won't repeat what they have written, although I can confirm that their reviews are very accurate. My description would be similar to Simon's, this is 'Sons of Anarchy' with half-orcs riding hogs. The author's style made me have an emotional connection to some of the characters, something that does not happen very often. As for the narrator, he has totally changed my mind about American narrators, he was excellent. He pace, pitch and tone was varied to match the context of the book and he has a superb range of voices to make the characters fully distinguishable. I have listened to many great audiobooks and I am unable to choose an overall favourite, if I was pushed to choose a top five, this audiobook would feature amongst them. If you like stories with Orcs, Wizards and Elves, I highly recommend listening to this audiobook. I would choose listening over reading the book because the narration really does make the characters come to life.

1 person found this 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 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Just OK. Interesting setting.

Episodic, not a clear story arc. Characters acted illogically. Some odd phrasing. Narration was good.

1 person found this helpful

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Must read

Gripping story from start to finish. This was recommended by a late friend and what a book it was. The best fantasy book in a long long time!

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An engaging idea, but sex-obsessed, sloppy writing

This was a really interesting idea, and a fun world to explore, but at so many points it felt like the author was just living out fantasies of his own machismo, sexual prowess and desirability. Every other sentence seems to have something to do with it, and at a certain point it felt like being written by a horny teenager. Still, the concept is really strong and the world is fun to visit, so I was still intrigued as to what happens next.

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  • Daniel
  • 28-03-20

I loved the book

This was really worth the credit. The story built well, there are some interesting twists & the narration is good. It’s a challenge seeing half orcs as good guys riding hogs into battle defending honor & virtue, but it really paints a great picture! Get the book!

1 person found this helpful