The Grey Bastards
A raucous, bawdy, blood-soaked adventure fantasy debut that's The Lord of the Rings reimagined by way of Sons of Anarchy.
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.
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published June 19th 2018 by Crown (first published October 16th 2015)
Going down in history…I stinking loved this grungy, squalid fantasy! It is the imperfectly perfect underdog story with strong, sexy, filthy, flawed characters, attitude and comradery. Wizards, maidens, half-bloods and fantastical beasts….an upgraded adulterated version bad-ass fantasy with a vulgar punch.
In the lands of the Lots, nestled between human territories and the full blood orcs, Jackal and his hoof do the dirty work to protect everyone in the lands as it has been done so since the Incursion; the war between the humans and orcs. The Grey Bastards, as they are called, are mainly a brotherhood breed of half-orcs, with the a few exceptions like the character ‘Oats’ – a thrice-blood and Jackal’s best friend, and one bad-ass female character ‘Fetch’ whose archery skills surpass all others and whose beauty is simply stunning. Together, with other outcasts of society living at the Kiln, their hierarchy in the band has a set structure and leader, the claymaster, which can only be challenged with the majority of votes via tossing an ax. At the opening of the novel everything seems quite satisfied and set up to stay as it has been for generations, while the plot establishes the characters, dynamics, disputes and history.
Jackal, the strong lead of his hog-riding comrades helps out with business disputes or brawls to keep order and create income. Brothel visits after hours aren’t the rarest of pleasures for this band to relax at the end of the day, and when a murder occurs, Jack must make a decisive move that begins the long tethered domino effect that kicks this fantasy into gear as questioning loyalties and authority are only the beginning of the subtle unravel.
To make all of this more interesting, there are other hoofs like the Grey Bastards to stay away from. However, battles aren’t an unusual occurrence. When Jack is sent to rescue an elf-maiden, he meets a mysterious half-orc wizard eagerly interested in him that he just can’t shake and so trudges along. Will this be his enemy or a blessing in disguise?
As the plot unfolds even further, different loyalties are created and Jack feels confident to throw his ax to overrule the claymaster. Unfortunately there are those who don’t have his back. Or was it all a set up?
Jack is sent to exile and allowed to keep his hog. Riding into an uncertain future he happens to meet a familiar face he hasn’t seen in years. Another exiled brotherhood bastard. As the plot with twists and turns gradually builds, Jack discovers the truth about the Incursion and their leader as knifing information surfaces that could be the end of The Grey Bastards and threatens the entire land.
Will he be able to change allies and convince his friends of the truth?
This hit the spot!
In short my favorite parts:
-The characters were all so different in their quirks, strengths and looks. Meshed up in this setting you had the leader, the grouch, the loyal, the strong one, the sinner, the liar and the dufus. I loved their strengths and faults….they cleverly commenced with hindsight as the characters learned and changed.
- The banter and companionship, the funny parts and expressions were the perfect balance to the grittier dirt in the novel. In all I’d say the humor was a bit more on the vulgar side, but it wasn’t meant in offense. Simply kinky at times, perhaps provocative and laughable. The entire setting is undoubtedly raw and wild, so it was fitting.
-The beasts! I stinking loved the hogs…they were brave, reliable, true companions like man’s best friend. The relationship of rider and hog was a big essential factor in the bastards’ existence. And who cannot love Ugfuck and Hearth the two main hogs. Seriously!
-The worldbuilding and ever-changing concepts of the plot were so captivating and engaging till the end. Foreign, yet familiar…reading this novel is an all immersive experience that easily takes you away from reality. I so want to step foot into that novel…is it ok that I want to roam the Lot Land and own a hog?
I am a semi fantasy newb and all I can say is, don’t be afraid people. If you are worried you can’t wrap your mind around a complicated, intricate epic fantasy and you have shied away from reading them…DON’T. You will miss out. This is the perfect one to get into. As a matter of fact, I’d love to see this as a movie! It definitely goes down as one of my faves. I cannot wait to read ‘The True Bastards’ book 2 of ‘The Lot Lands’ trilogy.
LIVE IN THE SADDLE. DIE ON THE HOG.