Thursday, September 5, 2019

The Grey Bastards (The Lot Lands, #1) by Jonathan French

Okay. It's not every day that I discover a new author to stalk get excited about but Jonathan French grabbed me by my short and curlies and yanked so hard, I'm just about counting down the days till his book 2 (The True Bastards) gets released. And you're pretty much guaranteed that I will drop EVERYTHING I'm currently reading to gobble down that book once it's been released. And it's rare that I will froth about a novel as much as I am about this, but there you have it.

The Grey Bastards is the mongrel offspring of The Lord of the Rings having a secret, boozed-up tryst with Sons of Anarchy, and heavily flavoured with every awful spaghetti western I ever gobbled up as a child. It's action-packed, filled with intrigue, and we follow the half-orc Jackal as he makes one bad decision after the other to save his hoof, The Grey Bastards. Even the concept is just so different from any of the fantasy I've read of late – I mean, you can't get more out there than half-orcs astride giant hogs. As in actual oversized piggies. And yet somehow it works. And it all hangs together for a smashing ride that has a ring of authenticity to its telling.

French dumps you right in the midst of a dusty, blood-drenched world where the assorted hoofs control territories within the Lot Lands, that act as a buffer between the human kingdom of Hispartha and the incursions of the orcs, who have previously sowed devastation. The assorted hoofs are all that stand between Hispartha and another dreaded incursion, and the half-orcs know it all too well.

French is a masterful storyteller, who effortlessly weaves in threads that eventually pull together into a devastating tapestry at the end. He writes with heart, telling a cracking adventure story but with memorable characters who are all incredibly well defined, set within a world that is heavy with history. I hadn't realised I was looking for a book like this one until I picked it up.

I realise I'm fangirling horribly, but allow me to do so. I was so engaged with this novel I honestly didn't feel like nitpicking at anything. I had way too much fun.

Oh, did I mention this book has elves?

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