“[A] fantasy masterwork . . . a dirty, blood-soaked gem of a novel [that reads] like Mad Max set in Tolkien’s Middle-earth.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Jackal and his fellow half-orcs patrol the barren wastes of the Lot Lands, spilling their own damned blood to keep civilized folk safe. A rabble of hard-talking, hog-riding, whore-mongering brawlers they may be, but the Grey Bastards are Jackal’s sworn brothers, fighting at his side in a land where there’s no room for softness.
And once Jackal’s in charge—as soon as he can unseat the Bastards’ tyrannical, seemingly unkillable founder—there’s a few things they’ll do different. Better.
Or at least, that’s the plan. Until the fallout from a deadly showdown makes Jackal start investigating the Lot Lands for himself. Soon, he’s wondering if his feelings have blinded him to ugly truths about this world, and the Bastards’ place in it.
In a quest for answers that takes him from decaying dungeons to the frontlines of an ancient feud, Jackal finds himself battling invading orcs, rampaging centaurs, and grubby human conspiracies alike—along with a host of dark magics so terrifying they’d give even the heartiest Bastard pause.
Finally, Jackal must ride to confront a threat that’s lain in wait for generations, even as he wonders whether the Bastards can—or should--survive.
Delivered with a generous wink to Sons of Anarchy, featuring sneaky-smart worldbuilding and gobs of fearsomely foul-mouthed charm, The Grey Bastards is a grimy, pulpy, masterpiece—and a raunchy, swaggering, cunningly clever adventure that’s like nothing you’ve read before.
Praise for The Grey Bastards
“Saddle up the war boar and set off on a wild, gory thrill-ride that ends in an awesome climax and begs for a sequel.”—Daily Mail (UK)
“Non-stop action, though not for faint hearts . . . the Grey Bastards live up to their name in all respects.”—The Wall Street Journal
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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Unlike a lot of dystopian/fantasy rot, the humor of the author comes through in this rough riding , tough talking adventure.
Absolutely incredible, wish books like this were released a series at a time, it kills me waiting for the next!
Easy read and excellent story.