'AN ADDICTIVELY READABLE - AND UNDENIABLY COOL - FANTASY MASTERWORK' Kirkus
'FILTHY, CHARISMATIC AND FRANKLY EXCELLENT' Mark Lawrence
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 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.
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.
'A gritty adventure with a fantastic, foul-mouthed voice . . . Fans of Abercrombie's The First Law . . . will like this a lot' Django Wexler
'A bloody good 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
'I'd like to raise a tankard to The Grey Bastards' brilliance' Fantasy Faction
For more Bastards action, check out the sequel: THE TRUE BASTARDS
This terrific and highly original epic fantasy debut focuses on a single small fighting unit: the boar-riding half-orc war band known as the Grey Bastards, "forged in the heat of Ul-wundulas, tempered by the pressure of the badlands, and quenched in the brackish water of life on the hoof." The coarse nature of French's half-orcs is immediately on display in the opening scene, in which Grey Bastards Jackal, Oats, and Fetching face off against a squad of human cavalry at the local brothel. A raid by full-blooded orcs, the arrival of an unknown half-orc wizard dubbed "Crafty," and a confrontation in a nearby swamp with the Sludge Man and some "giant, featureless leeches made of tar" are just the beginning for Jackal and his mixed-gender crew. Meanwhile, the band's leader, Claymaster, has been crafting nefarious schemes with unclear ends. The plots within and around the Grey Bastards add elements of mystery to the scenes of bloody combat and weird magics. French's prose, appropriately lowbrow among the half-orcs, is almost poetic at other times. His half-orcs, halflings, centaurs, and others have rich histories and folklore, giving the work depth while never getting in the way of the fun. This is excellent fantasy fare on all levels.