The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French

thegreybastards_coverTitleThe Grey Bastards
Series: The Lot Lands #1
Author(s): Jonathan French
Publisher: Crown
Format: ARC
Release Date: June 19th 2018
Pages: 432
Genre(s): Fantasy
ISBN13: 9780525572442
My Overall Rating: ★★★★★

The winner of Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 2016 contest turned out to be The Grey Bastards. It then quickly got snatched by bigger publishers to get the royal treatment. If it wasn’t for that contest and all the praise this book has been receiving since its triumph, it would have unfortunately failed to appear on my radar. I can now gladly say that I have however turned into one of those fans who will sing the praises of this book in my grave and beyond. The Grey Bastards reimagines the world of biker gangs with bikers as half-orcs and bikes as giant hogs, and straps you in for a road trip that will leave you feeling dirty, vulgar and charged with adrenaline for days on end.

The story focuses on Jackal, a proud member of The Grey Bastards, a hoof that forms a brotherhood like none other. Living in the Lot Lands, away from humans, protecting them from invading orcs is what they wake up to do every day. It’s being a half-orc that punished them into exile, away from civilized population, but it is no reason to believe that they are all incapable of abiding by moral codes and doing the right thing during the tough moments. Unfortunately for Jackal, the time has come for him to discover that certain secrets are about to flip his world upside down and put his loyalty to the hoof to the test.


What I love to find in the stories I read is a particular attention to friendship. When it is done perfectly, it always successfully elevates the quality by tenfold. With a constrained number of characters being the center of attention, Jonathan French manages to play around with the depth of each of their bonds and add a complex array of emotions to every key moment, tragic or comic, that emerges from the trials through these desolate lands. To amplify the strength of their kinship, an unrestrained profane banter is present, and it is impossible to overlook. While it is vulgar and very often alludes to sexual implications, it is always prone to send the reader into a relentless cackle that takes forever to put an end to.

It only makes this novel tale even more exquisite when the world-building is developed almost flawlessly. Riddled with races that fantasy lovers are accustomed to find in their stories, The Grey Bastards brings them back to life in a brand-new dynamic in a world that has plenty to offer. In fact, the world might seem ruined and bleak, but Jonathan French still manages to turn it into something that is a sight for sore eyes, even with all the danger that lurks within it. With the clever inclusion within the main narrative of both the history behind the half-orcs and the stories that are rumoured about the elves, the centaurs and what not, Jonathan French also makes it difficult for readers not to be immersed in all the ruckus. Not to mention that the action scenes deliver some of the most cinematic, detailed and violent sequences that could ever be imagined. I promise that this author knows how to put an image in your head. Dirty and savage. Trust me.

The Grey Bastards is a fantasy story that you should not sleep on. Watch as it puts the idea of getting yourself your own hog and to ride through mud and dirt to live your life rowdily without any societal restraints. If only there were orcs and centaurs around to make this slightly more irresistible. Or maybe they’re already out there and just waiting for the opportune time to wreak havoc. Be ready to saddle up, guys.


Thank you The Crown Publishing Group for sending me a copy for review!



49 thoughts on “The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French

  1. ♪Get your motor running♪
    ♪head out on the highway♪
    ♪Like a true nature’s child
    We were born, born to be wild♪

    Man, now I’m thinking about the years I had a bike. Those were some fun times!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I had it for about 3 years. That was the perfect time. Never had an accident, so I was ok with selling it to buy Mrs B a car when we got married.

        Highways were avoided though, in all honesty. Cars just don’t see you 😦

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This certainly doesn’t sound like my cup of tea, but I’m so glad that you love it, Lashaan!! You’ve done a marvelous job elaborating why, too. Friendships are rarely well done in fantasy novels. I’ll keep an eye out for where Jonathan French goes next!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahah, with your repulsion of violence, I wouldn’t have recommended this to you at all! 😉 And yes! I love when authors put more focus on friendship than romance too. It’s why some of my favourite fantasy stories all have amazing friendships in them (Lies of Locke Lamora, Magician: Apprentice, etc.)! 😀 😀

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I honestly believe that even those who think it might not be for them will be surprised by how much they’ll like it (as long as your reasons for not being your cup of tea aren’t huge, like not liking any violence in your fantasy books). 😀

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh, believe me, I am decidedly not against violence in my fantasy books, military fantasy being one of my favorite subgenres 😀
        I am not a big fan of bikers though 😉

        Liked by 1 person

    1. You definitely need to give it a shot, Danielle. It really is a nice cross between Sons of Anarchy (the show) and World of Warcraft. The marketing peeps weren’t completely wrong for once! 😛 And yes! I saw that through Twitter. His contest is definitely becoming very popular and I hope we’ll find other gems like The Grey Bastard this year too! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Aww man! I’m the odd one out who didn’t like it much. I’ll def try it again because I think I was in an off mood when I read it.
    Agree with you about the friendships though. I like how Jackal and his squad got each other’s backs, well up to the point where I stopped reading.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hahaha could totally be a mood thing, who knows! Hopefully the next time you give it a shot, it’ll turn out to be a far more enjoyable experience for you, Z. And yes! Love their brotherhood and the strength of their bonds. It’s quite beautiful, I’d say!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review for this book Lashaan, and I’m so glad you discovered and enjoyed this one as well. I’ve got to say it’s great how this one was discovered and then picked up by bigger publishers. It just goes to show how good it really is and obviously that’s something you agreed with when reading. The world building certainly sounds incredible. 🙂
    Again great review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Beth! I do love the fact that it got picked up by bigger publishers. Sort of like how The Martian was a self-published story and then blew up with fame. 😀 The Grey Bastards definitely deserves more attention from fans of adult fantasy! 😀 Thanks for reading, Beth!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I have been wanting to read this book for a long time now 😀 And your review really just told me all I needed to know.. needed? well, not really, because now I have physical pain from wanting it so badly 😀 Ha, yes, brilliant! Sounds right down my alley, this book!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I saw another review of this book and they raved about it too. I even thought about reading it soon… I decided against it as profane isn’t really my thing… But I love the idea that friendship is center focus! I hadn’t heard it talked about that way and of course you blow me away with your insight Lashaan! And I am a sucker for turning a trope on its ear and orcs as protagonists sounds just like that! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep. It is pretty profane whenever the banter is flipped on. But the bond between certain characters is such an awesome thing to read about. Thanks for reading, Dani. It’s nice to hear from you. 😉


  7. Most excellent review my friend, whilst this is not something I’m likely to read myself (this type of fantasy not really being my thing) the premise sounds unique and the world and characters detailed and well-defined, which always enhances any story, in any form.

    I do love the way you delve into the key aspects of things in your reviews Lashaan, you really do pinpoint the elements that most readers are drawn to – a good story with an interesting concept with characters to be invested in.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks man! I know how much you love your sci-fi though; I wouldn’t have went to great lengths to recommend this to you myself hahah I do appreciate the kind words, and am really grateful that you still took the time to check this review out! 😀


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