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The Grey Bastards

(The Lot Lands #1)

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  5,386 ratings  ·  845 reviews

Such is the creed of the half-orcs dwelling in the Lot Lands. Sworn to hardened brotherhoods known as hoofs, these former slaves patrol their unforgiving country astride massive swine bred for war. They are all that stand between the decadent heart of noble Hispartha and marauding bands of full-blood orcs.

Jackal rides with the Grey Ba
Kindle Edition, 529 pages
Published November 16th 2015 by Ballymalis Press (first published October 16th 2015)
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Jordan Jonathan French (the author) plans for the series to have 4 books (source:

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Average rating 4.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,386 ratings  ·  845 reviews

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Mark Lawrence
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book got a major publishing deal during the home run of the SPFBO contest. It has the highest score recorded in the 3 years of the contest out of nearly 1,000 books entered.

So this is without question the filthiest fantasy book I've read, beating the former title holder The Grim Company by a factor of ten ... possibly a hundred.

The book has elements in common with Jeff Salyard's Scourge of the Betrayer in that much of it concerns the interplay betwee
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5/5 stars

Filthily fantastic. I never cared about pigs this much, and I’m not talking about bacon.

The Grey Bastards was the champion of SPFBO (Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off) 2016 and in my opinion, it totally deserved the winning crown and all the praises. This review is based on my experience of reading the indie edition which I stumbled upon in my good friend’s shared kindle library. For those of you who don’t know, the self-published edition of The Grey Bastards has been removed from sale
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

Hell yes!! This went to my favorites list and thanks to Netgalley I have the next one to read!! Although, I’m afraid!! My nerves for my favorites in this book!! And Hearth 😫 Anyhoo, fanfreakingtastic!

Happy Reading!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾

Amazon Review:
Jeffrey Keeten
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
”The first Grey Bastards were potters, named not for our skin, but from the dry clay which covered it. We knew fire and heat and mud, until the day we rode into battle on the backs of hogs that knew only the yoke of a supply wagon. That day we became warriors. We were carving a path to freedom, though we didn’t know it then. Carving it with swords fallen from the hands of our fleeing masters, carving it through the flesh of our orc fathers.”

The Lot Lands, a Mad Max zone that lies between the Orc
James Tivendale
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: freecopy, fantasy
I received an advanced reader copy of The Grey Bastards in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Orbit Books and Jonathan French.

In French's debut release, readers follow Jackal, an attractive half-orc who is a key member of his gang which is known here as a hoof. The hoof is called The Grey Bastards and they operate in similar fashion to how a biker gang might, offering protection to local businesses, riding around their turf, and getting into skirmishes with rival factions but instead o
Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller
What a fun, irreverent read!

I’ve had Grey Bastards on my radar since before it was picked up by a publisher (I went to buy it and had a freak out because it wasn’t available anymore). Lately I’ve been really enjoying this type of story – where the characters don’t take themselves too seriously and even manage to give me a few laughs while they’re doing awful things. It falls perfectly in line with that cheeky dark fantasy I’ve been craving.

Grey Bastards had a unique concept that piqued my intere
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
19.06.2018. Update:

The Grey Bastards ride today!

And they have a new cover:

Too bad the original cover didn't stick. I'm not saying this one is bad but the original was badass AF.

Actual rating: 4.5 stars.

I’m sure a lot of you are aware of the following fact but I’ll remind you anyway; The Grey Bastards is the winner of the SPFBO 2016 and the worthy winner it sure is!

I was lucky to grab the indie version before the book and its forthcoming sequel were sold to Penguin/Random House, because as of Ju
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
5 astonishing stars to The Grey Bastards! 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

When I was contacted by Crown Publishing to read and review two fantasy genre books, I jumped at the chance. Not because this is my typical genre; not at all. That’s not because I don’t like fantasy because I do. For whatever reason, I don’t pick up fantasy books regularly. But I am drawn to these types of TV shows and films, and The Grey Bastards is ready for the screen.

Another thing that is ironic to me is that, while I’m no puritan, the tit
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Live in the saddle
Die on the hog!

Kerching! This is the fantasy payload! All the stars for this highly original, foul mouthed story! I was surprised by various twists and turns in the plot. I loved the world of half-orcs, orcs (thicks), centaurs (horse-cocks) , elves, halflings, humans (frails), magicians and sludge demons- yes you read correctly- sludge! I loved the hogs that the Grey Bastards ride. I loved the main characters Jackal, Oats and Fetching.
The pace is fast, the action is varied- the
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Winner of the 2016 SPFBO, The Grey Bastards introduces us to Jackal, half-orc and all round badass hog rider. Him and his fellow half-orc brothers form one of the hoofs that reside in the Lots, the lands between human held territories and those of the full blood Orcs, the thicks, who are straight out of Tolkein and really aren’t at all nice. The hoofs work protection on multiple levels, ridding the Lots of Orc bands who dare to test the boundaries of Ul-wundulas, as well as in the more racketeer ...more
Mogsy (MMOGC)
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, epic, spfbo
4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

I fucking loved this book. The Grey Bastards went down like a shot of good top-shelf tequila: warm and smooth, but with one hell of a spicy kick. If SPFBO has taught me any lessons, it’s that you never know what you’re going to get when you pick up a self-published novel, but many stars aligned to make this one work immensely well for me. It happened to perfectly fit my tastes, for one. With a title and cover like that,
Sean Barrs
Apr 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sons of Anarchy fans
Shelves: 4-star-reads, fantasy
Jonathan French has done something totally epic here; he has created an original fantasy world and delivered it with mud, grit and lots of energy.

Writing today is so exceptionally hard. And becoming a known writer is even harder. The problem with writing, and writing fantasy especially, is that almost everything has been done before. Creating something completely new is next to impossible.

The main influence on The Grey Bastards is the television show Sons of Anarchy. Biker culture clearly infl
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
Actual Rating: 4.5 Stars

The Grey Bastards is a wild, gritty romp across the unforgiving lands of orcs, centaurs, and elves. Our main character, Jackal, is amongst the "hoofs" of half orcs that prowl the borderlands, unofficially tasked with protecting the human kingdom of Hispartha from outside threats.

Their mantra: "Live in the saddle. Die on the hog."

The Grey Bastards first crossed my radar as the winner of Mark Lawrence's 2016 Self Published Fantasy Blog Off Competition. It has since been pi
Montzalee Wittmann
The Grey Bastards (The Lot Lands #1) by Jonathan French is a powerful, deeply moving, gritty, emotionally powered book that thrilled my every being! I felt I needed to shower off sweat, blood, hog hair, and grime when finished with this amazing book! It was the best book I have read in soooo long!
So rich in world building in every facet..just so detailed yet told without pointing out details, if that makes sense. The multiple species and the differences in their life habits and habitats.. WOW.
Holly (Holly Hearts Books)
I adored the setup, world building and the overall idea of this book but I have to be honest, a fellow book reviewer of mine read this (Grimdark_Dad) and found it to be.. REALLY problematic. I went into it with that at the back of my mind. I didn’t it want it to mess with how I felt just in case I personally didn’t see these problems.
So here it is. Races, sexualities, and even women in general are very much made fun of here. Tons of occurrences where the men are accusing characters of getting “b
TS Chan
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars.

The Grey Bastards is a worthy winner of last year’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off.
An original tale of valour, loyalty and friendship told from the perspective of half-breeds between humans and orcs, it was well-written and entertaining with loads of vulgarity.

I am not entirely convinced that this book should be termed grimdark though. Sure, there was a lot of crude language in this story that is set mainly within the forsaken badlands of Ul-wundulas, the home of the half-orcs whos
J.L.   Sutton
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Jonathan French’s The Grey Bastards is an entertaining, immersive and page-turning adventure! Our heroes are crass, foul-mouthed and brave. This is what you might expect from a half orc, but we don’t generally see half orcs (or ‘monsters’ of any sort) as our heroes. And not half orcs who ride into battle mounted on pigs! Their motto, “Live in the Saddle. Die on the Hog” resonates through the book. In the context of the world French has created, this all makes sense and as protectors of a buffer ...more
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)

💀 DNF at 58%.

Yes, I dared DNF and award 1 pathetically miserable little star to a book with a 4.15-star average rating. Not to mention that I had the audacity to write a negative review about it, too. Goes to show that I’ve lost nothing of my legendary despicability despite all evidence to the contrary. So go me and stuff. (view spoiler)

Sooooo, this would have been a delightful little tale about a bunch of gleeful, fun-loving, pacifist half-orcs (they were shortlisted for the N
C.T. Phipps
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, grimdark
"Live in the saddle, die on the hog."

THE GREY BASTARDS have been on my list of things to review for quite some time but I've been distracted a lot from my reading due to a tidal wave of other good books. Still, I never lost my desire to read about half-orc calvary fighting against full-blooded orcs along the borderlands. The excellent art on its front intrigued me as well. Which goes to show you you can judge a book by its cover.

The premise. as mentioned, is half-orcs are the unloved former slav
Anthony Ryan
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A fantasy take on Sons of Anarchy might seem an unlikely starting point for an excellent novel, but Jonathan French manages it with considerable aplomb. The ‘spot the influence’ game is fun for the first few chapters but soon fades away as the adventures of half-orc Jackal and his foul-mouthed, hog-riding hoof-mates become ever more absorbing. French’s clean, elegant prose works as a pleasing counterpoint to the obscenity-laden dialogue of his characters and even that retains a certain rhythmic ...more
Dear Jonathan French,

I am writing to tell you that you should get laid.

This book had great potential and refreshing premise but you decided to write it with your cock-driven urges.
I must admit that I enjoyed the crude banters and a few plot twists, but what I was looking forward to most was definitely the development of characters and the refreshing change of the usual fantasy trope in which orcs tend to be the bad guys. I was looking forward to seeing them finally humanized, though still very
Nils | nilsreviewsit
“No-one can fight forever, Jackal. You’ll discover that when you’re old and done.”
“You’re wrong. You fight forever if you fight to the end.”
The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French has to be one of the most unique fantasy books I’ve read in quite a while. I mean this had half orcs riding hogs as main characters, then we had armies of centaurs; blood lusty centaurs, fully blooded vicious orcs, and then elves thrown in too! Sounds bonkers I know, but for me personally, it really worked!
The story
Laura Hughes
I have a bone to pick with you, Jonathan French, aka. author of The Grey Bastards. You, sir, owe me a great many hours of sleep; hours that were spent avidly following the grim adventures of Jackal and co.

Mr. French, the pacing of your novel is truly brilliant. Starting with a ‘bang’ and then racing from conflicts and schemes to plot twists and battles, Bastards is what one might call a ‘rip-roaring adventure’: brutal, brave, and utterly fearless. The chapters are long, yet each end in a way tha
Melanie A.
Book 1: 5 STARS
Book 2: 4.5 STARS

"Live in the saddle . . . Die on the hog!"
A completely entertaining, rip-roaring adventure. :D

So when I read at the end of the book in the Acknowledgments that it was inspired by Sons of Anarchy, Middle-earth, spaghetti westerns, and the history of Reconquista-era Spain, I was like YES! EXACTLY!

I had such a great time reading this one. Really, there wasn't anything that I didn't like about it.

I'm not going to attempt to explain the plot, but
Sadie Forsythe
May 31, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book has a really interesting germ of an idea, great mechanical writing and likable characters. But I'd not recommend it to anyone and I would suggest women run for the hills, rather than read it. My problem isn't just the distinct lack of women with agency in the book. After all, epic fantasy has had a dearth of women since forever. (With one token and problematic exception, which I'll address, every single one of them is a whore, a "bedwarmer," or a rape victim. We're explicitly told wome ...more
Twerking To Beethoven
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"The Grey Bastards" WAS a self-published novel, but not anymore because it's been picked by Penguin/Random House and will be properly re-released in 2018, which is honestly great news.

I managed to get a copy before it was pulled off Amazon in June, and I'm glad I did. Anyway, even though it's a self-published book, everthing about "The Grey Bastards" smells professional. I mean, check out the cover, it looks awesome, doesn't it? And the content is equally ace.

Some people might consider this to
4.5 stars (to be frank)

I definitely enjoyed this book. Much more than I originally expected. Struggled to put it down over the final 30-25% stretch. This is a great story for the heroic fantasy fans...and I am still stunned that this is an independent title - really good quality work here.

Why should you pick up this book?
- great setting and worldbuilding. Is it tropey? Yes. But in a good sense. It feels more familiar than derivative.

- engaging story with a good cast of characters. Again, some
Dyrk Ashton
Jan 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A rip-roaring Spaghetti western crossed with 1001 Arabian Nights with humor to spare? Sierra Madre with orcs and elves and Hobbity folks relying on half-orcs riding the range on giant tusked hogs to keep the peace? Might sound impossible, but French makes it happen. A highly polished, fast-paced, action-packed fantasy not to be missed. Beware the squeamish or meek, there's a heap of swearing and dick-jokes galore, but if you can take it, then definitely do. I had a hell of a good time beginning ...more
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a solid read from start to end, and I enjoyed it even more because the narrator of the audiobook did a great job with the characters. I have been meaning to get to the previous SPFBO winners for a while, since I started judging the competition, and this seemed like a solid start point as it was so good that it got a publishing deal, but I wasn't too sure if this would be as good as the hype, I am happy to report it's a fun read throughout.

The book follows Jackal, a young half-orc who is
Manuel Antão
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Stale Spin-off: “The Grey Bastards” by Jonathan French

“Jackal ignored him, throwing his arms wide in a mock flummox. ‘The name escapes us. Anyway, he’s some inbred, overstuffed sack of shit that weds his cousins, fucks his sisters, and has small boys attach leeches to his tiny, tiny prick.’”

In “The Grey Bastards” by Jonathan French

Didn't Warcraft come about because they were originally developing a Warhammer game, then lost the license
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Jonathan French is the author of the Autumn’s Fall Saga and The Grey Bastards. His debut novel, The Exiled Heir, was nominated for Best First Novel at the Georgia Author of the Year Awards in 2012. His second book, The Errantry of Bantam Flyn, rose to #6 on the Kindle Norse/Viking Fantasy bestseller list, proudly sharing the top ten with Neil Gaiman. His newest work, The Grey Bastards, is best des ...more

Other books in the series

The Lot Lands (3 books)
  • The True Bastards (The Lot Lands, #2)
  • The Free Bastards (The Lot Lands, #3)

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“You got a name?"

"Uhad Ul-badir Taruk Ultani," the wizard said with a small dip of his chin.

Jackal blinked. "That name is a fucking nightmare. I'm going to call you Crafty.”
“You’re bleeding,” Fetch repeated, “and I am awakened very early. Someone is going to die.” 5 likes
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