The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French

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The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Wilson
Reviewed by Ruth Wilson
Summary: The Grey Bastards is a fast paced, furious story full of intrigue and mystery. Set in a vast wasteland called The Lots, the Grey Bastards will kill, maim and destroy anything that might threaten their homeland. A story of loyalty, honour among thieves, and betrayal this story never stops to draw breath. Incredible action from the first page to the last with fantastic characters and astounding plot twists. Be warned, strong language from the beginning.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 464 Date: June 2018
Publisher: Orbit
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0356511641

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The Grey Bastards is an absolute triumph! Fantasy, action and adventure cleverly wrapped around a super plot and well written characters, this book is so much fun. A word of caution though, this is not suitable for all readers. As the tittle suggests there is a lot of bad language, a LOT of bad language, thrown around all the time in general speech. In addition to this there is also some sex and sexual language too, there is some violence though not explicit and not as constant as the language and bawdy jokes. If this bothers you then this is not the book for you. For anyone who does not mind then this is an absolute must read.

The story starts thirty years after a great war between humans and orcs, a bloody, long lasting massacre that only ended when the half-orc slaves rose up in battle against the orcs and beat them back. As a reward the humans gave them The Lots, a wasteland divided into lots and each lot given to different half-orc packs. This is where we meet Jackal, a Brother raised on the legend of the half-orcs' strength and power, and their responsibility to protect the Lots from the orcs. As with all books that are masterfully written this is a complex and detailed world, with its own language and slang, but these terms are all quickly explained without any delay to the plot.

And what a plot it is! The story starts to take the form of a mystery and a quest for power. Jackal knows The Claymaster, their leader, is making bad decisions and suspects treachery so sets out to prove his wrong doings so Jackal can seize power for himself. So far, so simple, but each new revelation or new character reveals different and conflicting information that changes everything the Brothers have ever been told about themselves. All this information is gained on the run, dodging orcs, centaurs, elves, halflings and the humans who have accused him of murder. The plot never stops for a single second but it also twists, turns, and grows as Jackal continues his investigation. I cannot say more about the plot without ruining the twists and surprises but it is richly written and the quality of the detail is fantastic.

The plot might be centred solely around Jackal and his investigation but each and every character in the book is well written and important. The communities that surround the Brothers, the lone half-orcs he meets, and all his random meetings carry some importance or significance at some point in the story, there are no red herrings but rather mysterious revelations that all become clear in the end. Each character has weight and importance and for a group of trained killers there are enough varied personalities and enough depth of feeling that it doesn't get repetitive. The main characters are complex individuals of great depth and motivation, and the supporting characters have enough weight to feel involved in the plot and for the reader to hope for their survival in the turbulent times. The plot may be dark, and their actions may be brutal, even vicious, but the characters have enough charm and humour that it never gets heavy or off putting. The characters are more like loveable, if violent, rogues rather than calculating killers.

The conclusion of the story is brilliant, Jackal finds himself in a position where he feels he can confront The Claymaster and seeks him out for a final battle but even then the plot keeps twisting with more revelations and surprises, and everything and everyone is finally unmasked. The finale does not disappoint and it does not stop for a single second, there is no good point to put this book down you simply have to keep reading right to the end. It is so fast paced there is barely time to turn the page! It is so engrossing and detailed that the reader is left guessing right to the last page of the book. This specific story is ended beautifully, with great satisfaction to the reader but there are enough question marks left to suggest that there may be another book to follow, I hope, even more. If there are sequels I will definitely read anything and everything in this series and I doubt it will disappoint. This is one of those rare books that you charge through desperate to find out more but at the same time do not want it to end. I can't say enough positive things about this without resorting to cliché but it is non-stop, unapologetically filthy, crazy adventure. Read it!

Alternatively, for something similar, try The Wolf by Leo Carew

Buy The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French at

Buy The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French at


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