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Book Review: The Grey Bastards

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“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.”

Title: The Grey Bastards

Series: The Lot Lands #1

Author: Jonathan French

Page Count: 424

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5.0

Date Read: October 11th, 2023

The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French has not only been on my TBR for some time but books one and two have been physically sitting on my shelves at the house as well. I even missed a recent buddy read opportunity for this series with one of the online groups I spend a lot of time with. I finally found time to get into book one and I’m a bit upset with myself that I’ve waited this long.
I ended up listening to the audiobook version of The Grey Bastards which was narrated by Will Damron. As has been the case for the last month this was yet another new to me author and narrator. I think Will did an excellent job in bringing this story and it’s characters to life.
I took a few notes while working through this book and I really only had one critique and that was how vulgar things were, especially in the first half of the book. There just seemed like a lot of swinging cod being displayed and discussed. Sometimes this can bother me but I think this book hit my queue at just the right time as I actually found most of it rather hilarious.
The pacing was smooth and perhaps on the faster side at times. This was one of the reads or listens that just seemed to flow by in chunks whenever I got a chance to pick up where I left off. I didn’t have any real issues with names of characters or places here. I’m sure some of this can be contributed to the fine job done by the narrator in this one. I never really got any characters or locations mixed up while listening.
I found the worldbuilding my favorite aspect of The Grey Bastards and the Lot Lands in general so far. I can definitely see some similarities with other well known fantasy reads such as Lord of the Rings or even A Song of Ice and Fire at times with it’s own clear twist on this genre. As a fan of fantasy worlds in general and not always seeing the sides or stories from some of the common races mentioned, this was refreshing to experience. We have several interesting races and even more cultures to explore in this story. I’m sure we have even more to come in future installments.
The character building was also nicely done. There is a lot of growth to be seeing with various characters in The Grey Bastards. We also have plenty of twists with these characters to keep us on our toes which was excellent to add to my enjoyment.
I am hoping I can get to book two by the end of this year since I already own that one. If not, I plan to get to it early next year. I don’t want to sit on this series for long.

World Building 5/5
Pacing 4.5/5
Character Development 4.5/5

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Chad Barnard

Owner/Operator of The Hiking Reader Blog. Sharing thoughts on books and hiking trails and trying to find ways to continue to incorporate both hobbies together.

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