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The Grey Bastards

The Lot Lands
Narrated by: Will Damron
Length: 17 hrs and 47 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (218 ratings)
Regular price: £19.99
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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.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Good

Yeah man pretty sweet orcs and that, somewhat predictable but not bad at all 8 out of 10 brapples

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great book, well read

Fantasy book with a twist. highly recommended.

high fantasy with an adult and gritty feel. good story and no real slow points.

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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.

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Fantasy Jocks

I found it hard to like any of the main characters in this book. They were all fanatically realised and each was undoubtedly the sort personality which would arise from the environment and culture the story is set in but... it makes it a struggle to connect with any of them because they are all so unappealing.

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Well written

It's not a massive story or an epic spanning continents. But what it is is nuanced, well written, well planned and very well thought out, even when I thought it wasn't.

The story will surprise you a few times. It's a tale about ambition, failure, and serving the greater good.

Most of the villains aren't truly evil. The characters are people.

The author made "story" out of the lowest lows and the highest highs and didn't add events just to mess with the reader.

It's not the best story I've listened to, but what it does it does well, from a very fulfilling perspective. And yes, there's magic. Not a lot, but sometimes more than the characters know what to do about.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Enjoyable!

As my first audio book it took a few chapters to get use to, but before long found it to be an enjoyable experience! The book was entertaing with a good pace and plenty of action. The narration was well delivered and helped keep the story flowing enjoyably.

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Not the usual suspects

What a surprising, delightful and different novel. Beautifully written and narrated. A real gem in this genre. Highly recommended.

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Fantastic book, can't wait for the next chapter

Love the first book of this fantasy adventure, looking forward to what Jackel finds outside the Lots.