Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French: Review + Giveaway

The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French

Release: June 19th, 2018
Crown Publishing
Hardcover. 432 pages.

About the book:
"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."

Somehow I have ended up with two ARCs of The Grey Bastards. One of them was received from a giveaway, but I am not sure how the other made its way to my doorstep. I certainly don't need to be hoarding two ARCs, so I thought the best way to deal with this was to give it away to another excited reader! Giveaway information can be found after my review. I don't normally post my reviews quite this early, either--I prefer to post them within a week of the release day, usually--but I wanted it to accompany the giveaway, so here we are.

I've been sitting on my review for this book for ages because I just haven't  been able to figure out how to accurately describe how much I enjoyed this book. As a note, I'm not going into too much detail regarding plot point, characters, etc. in this review, simply because I don't want to accidentally lead into any possible spoilers. The Grey Bastards is a dirty and brutal book, but it's also incredibly addicting. I can see where this book might ruffle a few feathers in regard to some of its content, but I found everything to be handled and discussed so well that it didn't really bother me, and so far other reviews to have had the same positive reaction.

This book got off to a fairly slow start and I was slightly hesitant on whether or not it would improve. This was largely because we're just sort of thrown into things and a lot of characters and places are mentioned at the beginning, but fortunately I soon found myself getting into the flow of things and falling in love with the dirty half-orc hoof known as the Grey Bastards. From there, the adventures begins and things start to get mysterious as the plot picks up and Jackal, the protagonist, starts to question what is truly going on in his hoof and land.

The worldbuilding is excellent and is also part of why I enjoyed this book so much. I was so engaged with the different territories and history that went into the present issues we encounter in this book. What particularly grabbed me was how imaginative French was in creating a semi-recognizable fantasy setting that was still very refreshing and brought some new elements to the story. There are plenty of classic elements used throughout, such as orcs, elves, and other fantastic beasts, but he incorporates them all in an original manner and also includes many of his own fresh ideas that makes this world even more vibrant. Because this book initially felt a bit slow to me, I was actually surprised when I suddenly realized just how engaged I was in the world.

The Grey Bastards has a fairly wide cast of characters, all of which have distinct personalities and are all majorly flawed in many different ways. Jackal is an extremely strong-willed half-orc that can be extremely stubborn, but is also incredibly loyal and thus acts as a compelling character to follow. Fetch and Oats are Jackal's closest friends within the hoof, the former being the only female in the hoof and the latter being a thrice (three-quarters orc) and also unbelievably loyal. Jackal's relationships with Fetch and Oats, as well as the many other characters in this book, add much depth and complexity to the story that make this an even more compelling book. Oh, and did I mention that they all ride hogs? And not just any hogs: huge, awesome, battle-ready hogs that develop a bond with their rider--and you thought this book couldn't get any better.

As mentioned, this is a pretty filthy book overall in terms of vulgarity and profanity, but it's also a wonderful sort of filthy that makes it that much more fun and entertaining to read. If you're sensitive to vulgar sexual discussion, sexist remarks, violent images, then just keep that in mind when diving into this book. I honestly really loved this aspect because it made everything just feel so authentic and really allowed me to feel like I was a part of this hoof and world. It allows the reader to really get to know each character and understand the dynamics of this world, as well as enjoy some small comedic relief.

French's writing style is strong and charismatic, with a great mixture of detailed descriptions, sharp action sequences, and truly excellent dialogue. I found myself particularly impressed with his attention to detail in all aspects of this book, as that is something that really sets books apart from others for me. He writes in an incredibly engaging manner that has convinced me to pick up some of his earlier work as well.

Overall, I loved this book and highly, highly recommend it to readers that enjoy some grit, dirt, and memorable characters with their fantasy. This is an easy five stars!

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

Since the book is coming out soon, this is a short giveaway. It starts today and runs for one week, ending at 12:00AM Friday the 15th. Note: this is the plain white-covered ARC that you may or may not have seen around, not one with a completed cover.

Giveaway rules:
1. This is a US only giveaway. Unfortunately, I do not have the means to provide shipping for international entries. I apologize for this and am aware how frustrating it can be; I hope to work out an international giveaway soon.
2. The giveaway is for one uncorrected copy of The Grey Bastards. I have no affiliation with/for Jonathan French or Crown books.
3. Winners will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond. If I hear no response, I will have to move on to the next selected winner.
4. You must be 13+ or have your parent's permission if under 18.
5. Your personal information (email, address, etc.) will never be shared and I will only be using it for mailing out the prize.


  1. Amazing review. Very in-depth and very true to what I think of as a great novel. I love the subversiveness of Fetch and Jackal's relationship, especially how she zigs when you think she'll zag.

  2. I can't wait to read this, I have an eARC but I'm tempted to enter the giveaway anyway😊