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The Lot Lands #2

The True Bastards

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Fetching was once the only female rider in the Lot Lands. Now she is the leader of her own hoof, a band of loyal half orcs sworn to her command. But in the year since she took power, the True Bastards have struggled to survive. Tested to the breaking point by the burdens of leadership, Fetching battles desperately to stave off famine, desertion, and the scorn of the other half-orc chieftains, even as orcs and humans alike threaten the Lots' very existence. Then an old enemy finds a way to strike at her from beyond the grave--and suddenly only one, faint hope for salvation remains.

584 pages, Paperback

First published October 8, 2019

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About the author

Jonathan French

5 books964 followers
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 described as “Sons of Anarchy…with half-orcs” and is poised to be his biggest seller to date. The book is currently a finalist in The Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off #SPFBO. An outspoken advocate on the merits and future of independent publishing, Jonathan has led panel discussions at conventions such as DragonCon, TimeGate, and CONjuration. Recently, Jonathan had the pleasure of being featured in an episode of the web-series Retroblasting as a consultant on the cultural impact of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise. You can find out more at www.jonathanfrenchbooks.com.


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Displaying 1 - 30 of 313 reviews
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,471 reviews9,640 followers
August 11, 2020

This is Fetch arc, she’s the new leader and she’s bad @ssed!

This book is slammed full of action and @ssholes! I damn loved it better than the first book!

Fetch has to go through ALOT of shit in this book now that she’s in charge and she has to fight to keep everyone safe and fed. There are things working against her but it takes a lot to bring a good Orc/Elf down!! She will kick your @ss and have you for breakfast <— well not so much that last one!!

There are some appearances from the first book as well as some sadness and humor! I can’t wait to own a physical copy!

*Thank you to Netgalley and The Publisher for giving me the opportunity to read this awesome book!*

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾

Profile Image for Matt's Fantasy Book Reviews.
236 reviews3,150 followers
March 13, 2023
DNF @ 50%. The shift in POV to a different character and a plot that went at a glacial pace just didn't work for me. I didn't read enough to give a detailed review, but this series just isn't working for me.
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,564 reviews2,312 followers
August 24, 2019
The True Bastards by Jonathan French is a book I requested from NetGalley and the review is voluntary. Last year I read The Grey Bastards and of the 800 books I read, this book stood out as my favorite! So when I saw this second book I really hoped they would let me read it!
The last book was centered around the half orcs group, they call a hoof, and this good calls themselves The Grey Bastards.
This group has some of the same people but they have the first woman half orc chief. The hoof lives in the same Lot as before but they call themselves The True Bastards. This job is not easy for a male to be riding a giant mean tusked hog. A hog big enough to carry a half orc long distances. The female chief has to ride, fight, pull and shoot a bow, knife fight, and be totally fearless to live in a hoof but more so to be the chief.
The Lots is a hard life. The food is scarce, lots of enemies, the land barren. All the good depends if the chief's decisions.
This is a very, action filled book that holds nothing back. If you are offended by swear words, even implied ones, this is not for you. This is what it would really be like if...
That's why I like it. French make this world and characters so real! I think my favorite character is Polecat, he is paler than the other half orcs and very quiet on his feet, and a good sniper! Bad guys are dead and they don't know it yet!
This is non-stop action, page turner from the beginning! My emotions were everywhere!
There are lots of great creatures in here too. Elves, trolls, orcs, snake like creatures, sorcerers, and centaurs. The worst are humans. There is so much that goes on in here! It is a must read! Truly another winning book! Love the cover!
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books248k followers
April 21, 2020
”You name us mongrels. You name us soot-skins. You name us ash-coloreds. You name us in hatred. What will you name us, when you learn to fear us?”

Here we go! I’ve been looking forward to the next installment in this gritty, violent, bloodthirsty, foul mouthed, barbaric, Mad Max on hogs, chaotic world since I turned the last page of the first book.

Did Jonathan French deliver? Indeed he did.

Let me give you just a bit of background to catch you up.

The Frails, otherwise known as humans, have relied on The Hoof bands of castoff half-orcs to serve as a barrier in The Lots between them and the rampaging Orcs, Centaurs, and numerous other creatures who routinely, during a Berserker moon, try to destroy everything in their path.

The Half-orcs are the progeny of Orcs raping frails or, in the case of our heroine Fetching, elves. They are toothy, brawny, ugly, babies that even make their mothers shiver in disgust. They might be mugly, but they grow up to be fierce fighters, not as strong as Orcs but infinitely smarter. To protect their stronghold, Hispartha, the frails create a land for these repugnant half breeds to serve as a buffer between them and those monstrous creatures who desire their destruction.

In the last season (I’m using a TV term because I feel that some bright executive in TV land should be cueing this up for Netflix or HBO), Jackal was the focal character, but now that he is off on some crusade to eviscerate an odious magician, that leaves Fetching in charge of their Hoof clan, the Bastards. Fetching is the only female hog rider, but now she breaks another glass ceiling by becoming the one and only Chief Quim (the term frequently used to describe her by rival Hoof bands). Yeah, it’s not fucking easy being a woman in charge.

”’Never taken orders from no woman before.’

‘Sure you have,’ Fetch said, giving her saddle’s girth strap one final, sharp tug. ‘Had to be at least one that told you to go faster.’”

Okay, yeah, I nearly geysered the mouthful of Earl Grey tea I happened to have just sipped before reading that line. There will be numerous lines sprinkled throughout the text that will inspire a chortle, a snortle, or quite possibly a full on, knee slapping, belly laugh. Needless to say any snide remark that any male of the species, any species, can conjure, Fetch will have a barbed reply waiting in her quiver of snarky word shafts. It doesn’t help that Fetch is a half orc wet dream, with her lush curves and pleasing features (thanks to her elfin mother), and seems to be putting out a fog of pheromones that turns every male into a grunting, moronic asshole. She may not look like a badass, but once they feel the sting of her blade tickling their tenders, they have to reevaluate her abilities.

Fetch is exceptional, something that women all over have discovered they have to be to even be considered for any sort of advancement. It is never enough to be equally as good. How many women wish they could grab a man by his scrotum with their gloved hands and tell him to shut the fuck up and sit down before his manhood becomes an ugly, but small, objet d’art on her mantlepiece? For her own safety, Fetch has to bristle with menacing violence.

So, naturally, things have turned to steaming shit. The Lots are a wide swath of Thunderdome. Things are so bad that Conan might pack up his swords and scuttle off to a safer geography. Drought has brought famine, the Hoof numbers are at an all time low, some magical wolves are trying to kill Fetch, another Hoof Chief is plotting her demise (how dare she think a female can run a Hoof Band?), some really fucked up super Orc is trying to turn her into splatter, the frails have brought cannon to their stronghold in The Lots, fucking Jackel won’t return from his fucking quest to help, and the elves are not turning out to be the allies she hoped they would be. Oh, and she is about to discover the truth of her origin story. Yep, like something right out of the super hero comic books.

Despite all these distractions, Fetching is coming to some controversial conclusions about the future of the Half-orcs and their overlord masters, the Frails. Why serve when one can rule thyself?

Again, as I turn the last page of this second season (see what I’m doing there again?), I’m already wondering when I will have the pleasure of meeting back up with my smelly, ill tempered Hoof band. Who doesn’t want to hang out with Mead, Dumb Door, Shed Snake, Culprit, Polecat, Oats, and Hoodwink? I’ve already yelled out in my sleep, ”We live in the saddle. We die on the hog.” Not an easy explanation to present to a befuddled wife, woken from deep slumber.

Strap on your tulwar, sling your crossbow across your back, and get ready to ride your hog into battle with Fetch. She needs all the help she can get, even from Frails like you and I.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten and an Instagram account https://www.instagram.com/jeffreykeeten/
August 21, 2019
I just finished and YES!!! What a journey this was through the Lot Lands 😱
Character-driven and fueled with an engrossing plot, this novel was a meaty piece of Bastard pie! Loved. It.


The True Bastards does not disappoint and delivers an equally foul-mouthed, filthy plot in gritty prose filled with adventure and dare I say, surpasses even The Grey Bastards with its meaty, ambitious plot that renders addictively epic.

Fetch and her hoof find themselves left in the debris field and smolder of their former fortress now the ruins of the Kiln. With the hogs hauling stones to Winsome among the coals, the rebuild of their fortress is slow going and dangerous. Their fortification will need all the resources available to keep them safe. With most of the skilled tradesman gone after the fall of the Claymaster, wood has become one of the most precious commodities that Fetch luckily secured a lot of as the new Chief. But safety and provisions aren't the only things she has to worry about for her hoof. Her health is declining in a sudden and rapid, deadly way.

Keeping her illness a secret, Fetch embarks on a journey to seek a cure. What begins as a stroll through Un-wundulas, turns out to begin a sequence of events that will test Fetch's abilities and judgments as chief, discover truths about herself and her brothers and will challenge her rank.

With a semi-peaceful intro into the novel, it really starts to pick up once Jackal and Oats play their part and it turns into a goring thrill adventure. Uncovering a backhanded scheme to kill off all the half-orcs by frails, Fetch must try to unite the mongrel factions and outwit a masterminded plan that tests the loyalties of her brothers.

In her struggles, Fetch must sort out the truths of friends and foes. With elemental forces taking everything from the hoof, she is coerced to put not only herself but the entirety of the hoof in danger of existence. Facts about her ancestry will be the shocking ingredient as to why she has become the most important prong played that will trap her either in a losing or winning position if she can figure out how to use her knowledge wisely.

The creatures imagined and intrigue plotted in this novel have created hair singing and heart-racing moments edging the abyss like toiling taunts with the devil in an unputdownable, throat constricting fashion. Never striving of the path and true to French's filthy lingo used in The Grey Bastards, the entirety of the novel reads strongly gritty and is interspersed with clever, funny one-liners I loved.

"I am Fetching, leader of the half-orc hoof known as the True Bastards. I need to know who you cocksuckers are and what you are doing in the fucking lots."

A perfect balance to all the action of the plot has been given to detailing more character development and background/history/origination of places that lend an understanding to the deeper expansion of the heritage explored that will undoubtedly be important and the essential set-up to the next novel in the sequence.

Among the characters we already know from the first installment, this novel introduces a whole cast of new ones that radiate new colors into the mesh of the story, definitely interestingly imagined and a venue for new directions to explore.

The hogs are still awesome and continue to play an important role here. The motto: 'LIVE IN THE SADDLE. DIE ON THE HOG.' receives further meaning when the brothers come together and honor one of their own. A very touching moment among some others that allowed reverence here. It made the comradery merge palpable to the reader diluting the lines of pages in a book read with being lost immersively in the story among comrades.

Overall the story flowed really well and is loaded with adventure after adventure. The characters are afforded more humanity through flaws and doubts while the plot continues mesmerizingly mysterious. Packed with intrigue, twists, turns, imaginative creatures, menacing mayhem, and squalid filth, it's the perfect grungy fantasy with an added bonus of a strong female protagonist you don't want to mess with!


This was one of my most anticipated novels of the year! When I read The Grey Bastards novel last year, it had absolutely taken me by surprise. It was my first novel to read of the kind, so foulmouthed, kinky, brutal and fantastic. I was hooked and simply smitten. It took entirely too long of a wait to read The True Bastards this year.

I read/enjoy and review different genres on my blog which did not garner me exclusive access to an ARC of this highly anticipated novel automatically. Therefore, I am very grateful to have received one after all, THANK YOU!!!!! Because THIS NOVEL IS ABSOLUTELY RAD!

I rate novels individually and love different books for different reasons. If I was smitten with The Grey Bastards last year, I am now fully fletched invested and convinced of French's ability to create a thoroughly immersive, epic fantasy with substance. The True Bastards is packed with so many turns of events and details developed, it garner's a reread and I am already eager to do so. The Lot Lands #1 and #2 hold their own due to the uniquely daring gritty voice and style that unapologetically do not let up. This, in turn, makes them compellingly addictive!

I'd highly recommend this meaty Bastard pie of a delightful, squalid fantasy!


I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you kindly. I also want to thank the publisher Crown Publishing for sending me the book.

More of my reviews here:
Profile Image for Dyrk Ashton.
Author 12 books646 followers
August 28, 2019
Our favorite Bastards are back, now lead by Fetching, and are in a bad way. With the Kiln gone, the True Bastards (renamed from the Grey Bastards), fight starvation and terrifying threats, old and new. How will they survive? With grit and sheer determination, that's how!

I loved The Grey Bastards, and Jonathan French has done it again. This is a stellar second novel, terrifically unique and exciting. It moves at breakneck speed, with brutal action and epic battles. The worldbuilding just keeps getting richer, deeper, and more unique in this series—and you are in for some shocking, wonderful, and terrifying surprises.

French has dug deep with this one, creating connections to events and characters from the first book that I never saw coming, some of which I wouldn't even have thought possible, but he makes them work in the most amazing ways.

If you liked The Grey Bastards, you are going to lose your shit with this incredible follow-up. I sure did!
Profile Image for Adam.
375 reviews164 followers
August 13, 2019
There are many ways to die, but only one way to survive: just keep going. Is starvation decimating your ranks, with food a constant scarcity? Just keep going. Is there a new, ancient threat that leads a terrifying race of creatures to hunt in ways never seen before? Just keep going. Has your lover and protector deserted your clan, have you sent your best warrior far away, and is a sickness corrupting you from the inside out? Just keep going and don’t stop until there’s nothing, and no one, left. Such is the plight of hoof leader Fetching as we rejoin her in the Lot Lands nearly two years after the events of The Grey Bastards in Jonathan French’s intense and massively entertaining sequel, The True Bastards.

When we last visited the Lot Lands, the Orc Incursion has thrown the surviving half orcs into chaos. The Bastards’ home was decimated, and Jackal has left to hunt down the wizard who is behind the plague and incursions. The battle with the centaurs under the Betrayer moon combined with the encroaching full-blood thicks from the south has sown chaos among the ranks of the surviving hoofs. Fetch has become the de facto leader of a new hoof, the True Bastards, and takes in new hopefuls and free riders and anyone else who fought bravely against their enemies and could help fill out the ranks. But a female leader of a hoof does not sit well with others. The humans are starting to muster their strength to the north, new visitors appear in the south, and enemies are hunting down the Bastards in all directions. Fetch’s duties would be difficult enough if she didn’t have to deal with the day-to-day challenges of feeding the orphans, guarding their walls, hunting, mining, and training their meager forces. Hundreds of half-orcs and humans depend on her decisions for survival, and now forces both ancient and familiar are revealing secrets that could cause Fetching to lose everyone and everything she’s fighting for.

Fetching was my most beloved character in The Grey Bastards, so I was excited to learn that she was the primary POV in The True Bastards. She is a natural leader, but constantly questions her place in a male-centric society. She’s a warrior but uses her wit before her blade whenever possible. She’s still dealing with the after-effects of her battle with the Sludge Man and her weaknesses may threaten her ability to lead. Above all, she’s willing to make unprecedented life-or-death decisions to keep her hoof and followers alive. These decisions bring her followers into uncharted and dangerous territories that were fantastic to discover. Although Fetch is the primary focus of the narrative, the story just as much about surviving the surrounding Lot Lands as it is about the Bastards’ journey through them.

While the foul language and obscenities are still prevalent in the sequel, it seems like they’re used more sparingly and have greater bite when deployed. Once again, French captures the graphic nature of gang camaraderie with a heavy dose of humor and heart. The tone and sense of harrowing dread stays consistent throughout the story, and it makes for an excellent, page-turning read. There are quite a few surprises in store that caught me off guard, and I’m looking forward to discussing them when this hits the shelves.

The True Bastards is an immersive and gripping tale of survival and sacrifice, and does an exceptional job further developing The Lot Lands in surprising and interesting ways. If you have an interest in reading a series based on non-human protagonists as they battle and claw their way through an unforgiving environment while forging bonds of brotherhood, this series checks all of those boxes, and so much more. Highly recommended.

ARC via Edelweiss. This book will be released on October 8, 2019.
Profile Image for Nils | nilsreviewsit.
318 reviews473 followers
October 25, 2019
‘The Lot Lands shaped you, and often its molding hands were cruel. But any form that survived its touch was one better suited to endure its next caress, next crushing fist. It mattered not at all that you might not enjoy what you became. What mattered was that you lived.’
The True Bastards by Jonathan French is the much anticipated sequel to The Grey Bastards which was published by Orbit last year. This sequel offers the same gritty, treacherous, and filthy world of the first book, but exceeds it with an elaborate bold plot, and downright awesome characterisation.

The True Bastards picks up shortly after the finale of the first book. The Bastards are on the brink of utter ruin; they are starving, weak, and if that wasn’t bad enough, they have creatures and other clans intent on annihilating them. Fetch, the female half orc, is their new leader... but for how long? Can she find a solution to save her hoof? And when a new, bigger threat to The Lot Lands emerges, can she uncover the truth behind it all? With all this burden upon her, Fetch certainly has her work cut out, and finding a way to be the best leader she can for her loyal hoof riders is certainly no easy task.

I’ll start by mentioning what I love most about this series, which would definitely have to be the world building. The Lot Lands is not exactly what you would call a picturesque place to live, and this second novel further establishes that fact. The Lot’s brutal, scorching terrain is filled with blood thirsty centaurs, volatile elves, orcs, ravenous hyenas, and human military forces that believe their rule is supreme. Our story centres around The True Bastards hoof; a ragtag of foul mouthed, brash half orcs who ride hogs known as Barbarians. Although they seem savage on the surface, they are in fact intelligent and incredibly endearing with their bond towards each other. Underneath it all, they work tirelessly to sustain their clan. I’m so impressed with how amazingly epic French has created this biker gang-esque world, it was frankly so much fun to be immersed within it.

Now, if I’m being honest, I didn’t think I would enjoy The True Bastards quite as much as I did with The Grey Bastards. I wasn’t overly keen on Fetch in the first book, and knowing that she would be the main character in the sequel felt kind of disappointing. I WAS WRONG! Fetch was such a superb character. She showed an abundance of strength, courage, and she had such a fiery attitude - every time she was humiliated or degraded, especially by males, it truly was a pleasure to see her put them in their place. Fuck, she had such a way with words!
‘I am Fetching, leader of the half-orc hoof known as the True Bastards. I need to know who you cocksuckers are and what you are doing in the fucking Lots.’
‘Aw, hells,’ Mead said under his breath.
However, throughout the book, we see that Fetch is more than just her hardened exterior as she illustrated her caring and loyal side too. In fact all of the Bastards appeared to be rough neck brutes, but at their core, they were genuinely charming towards one another. This is where French really made this sequel into something quite special, because he managed to greatly increase the depth of each character. Mead, Polecat, Shed Snake, Hoodwink and my beloved Jackal, Oats and Fetch all made an incredible cast of friends who I became so attached to by the end. One of my favourite scenes was when the Bastards were playing games with the children from their orphanage in a lake. The children were reluctant to wash, as children are, and so to entice them into the water they made a sport of it. This scene just perfectly cut through all the grimness of the book, and showed such a beautiful light hearted side to each one of them.

I’m just going to briefly mention here that much in the style of The Grey Bastards, the level of profanity, sexual references including that of genitalia and crude behaviour is just as high in this book. Personally, I found it entertaining as it created some cracking banter and much humour, to again, juxtaposition the darker scenes. I also felt it rightly fits this world that French has created where the half orcs are carnal by nature. However, I realise not every reader is going to be comfortable with it, so I think it’s important to know this before diving in.

So, what else made this book a remarkable read? Well, that resides in the action sequences. I previously found with the first book that there was a bit too much politics introduced, and at times I felt this became overly complex and confusing. In the True Bastards, French aptly delivers a balance between the politics, which is still central to the plot but brought more clarity, and in between those sections we also get exceptional combat scenes. Towards the end when the Bastards were reunited with two of their most fiercest deadliest riders to face a few formidable foes, that was a fantastic game changer for me. My attention turned from intrigued, to holy sheeeeet, to please don’t let anyone die, to fucking hell I can’t put this book down! How dare you make me feel so many things for orcs, French!

I firmly believe that French has raised the bar in The True Bastards as this was one awesome hog ride. If you’re looking for a filthy, fierce, fun fuelled read, then the Bastards have got you covered.

ARC provided by Orbit in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Profile Image for kartik narayanan.
735 reviews205 followers
November 16, 2019
The True Bastards is a huge letdown as a follow up to the excellent The Grey Bastards.

It is average due to two reasons - the characters and how they behave in this book along with the world building.
The Grey Bastards excelled in having great characters with believable motivations. The True Bastards felt decidedly less so. And the novelty of the world building that existed in the prior book loses its shine in this one.

Even so, I will read the next book in the series and I hope that it manages to redeem the series.
Profile Image for Melanie A..
1,065 reviews395 followers
November 25, 2019
4.5 STARS!
"Live in the saddle . . . Die on the hog!"
Aaaahhhh! It was SO GOOD to be back with the hoof again!

Admittedly, it took me until about 20% before I fully had a grasp on what all had happened in book 1. (If ever a sequel needed as synopsis at the beginning, it's this one since my brain is such a sieve.)

But even without a handle on where my favorite characters had gotten to and why, I was still left with Jonathan French's wonderfully clever prose and his wonderfully clever heroine, Fetching, who now had the lead.

[Sidenote: I'm pretty sure Jonathan French has my undying devotion . . . not only for going with a heroine as the lead character, but for pulling it off!]

Anyway . . .

Despite the hardships they've endured, the Bastards are as irreverent and politically incorrect as ever.
Fetching made a point of never naming her mounts, but the Bastards had taken to calling this one Womb Broom: "The only thing keeping the chief's quim free of dust."
I loved the devotion and loyalty they showed their new chief and the respect they had for her decisions even if Fetching was working on a brutal learning curve.
Hard as living in the badlands could be, it was nothing compared to living it in the hoofmaster's chair.
And their lives only got harder and harder as foes, new and old, came after them full tilt.
Survival was instinct. It was akin to hunger or breathing.
There were some incredible moments as the story unfolded, especially as beloved characters reappeared . . .
She could only watch. And place her faith in the most brazen mongrel ever to ride the Lots.
. . . which rounded out all the action and adventure nicely.

I strongly recommend if fantasy is your jam! Such good stuff.
Profile Image for Dave.
3,017 reviews333 followers
August 14, 2019
The True Bastards is the outstanding sequel to French’s fantasy explosion, The Grey Bastards. It’s a fantasy series filled with Orcs, elves, centaurs, magicians, and the like, but don’t make the mistake of assuming this is a cutesy kids book. It’s not. It’s gritty, dark, nasty, violent, and profane. It’s a warlike fantasy series told about real warriors, wounded, cursing, rough, coarse, and thoroughly entertaining. Conan and his fellow Cimmerians would be comfortable here.

The world created here is divided between “Thicks” who are monstrously powerful hard to kill orcs who are not only bestial but threaten to overrun everything. In the other direction are the “frails” or humans who are in a feudal imperium.

Between these two worlds ride the outcast half-breeds (born of women raped by orcs) who guard the frontier in “hoofs” wild clans of halfling warriors astride giant barbarian hogs, sort of like motorcycle gangs on their “hogs”, only these are far more untamed animals.

“Live in the Saddle. Die on the hog.” Each hoof has its own rules and these small bands often have other outcasts or villagers under their protection. There are also nomads about who are outcast from the hoofs. There are sorcerers and elves and centaurs, none exactly friendly.

This is Fetching’s story, a half breed half orc and half elf, an unheard combination. She is chief over a hoof that has fallen on hard times, near starvation and with only a handful of members. And the going gets tougher from there with every hand set against them and betrayals and feared monsters at every turn. She is also the only female chief and the only female rider ever. And, she wants respect of the other hoofs.

The story doesn’t start with any introduction or recap of past events. Either read the first book or follow along till it all makes sense. The first twenty percent of the book sets the stage and then it explodes in nonstop action for the rest of the book. No punches are pulled. The fights are violent. The risks are real. The injured ones are many and the losses keep piling up.

Just an intense fantasy series and I can’t wait till book three comes out.

Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
Profile Image for Deborah Obida.
673 reviews604 followers
January 21, 2022
True Bastards is book 2 of The Lot Lands series, this book is even better than book 1. Lots of revelations, great plot, amazing well written characters and great depicted fight scenes. This series follows a pattern, book 1 was Jackal’s book, this is Fetch’s, so book 3 will be Oats’ book.

I love this series because it’s unlike anything I’ve ever read, not only are the main characters half orcs, they also ride on hogs. The weirdest thing is that humans are amongst the villains.

The writing and world building is awesome, the world is well depicted, the book is written in Fetch’s third person POV.

The events in this book happened a year after The Grey Bastards with Fetch as the Chief of their hoof(The True Bastards), life is very hard since the kiln was destroyed, there barely have enough to eat, to make things worse something is hunting there.

My favorite character is Fetch, she’s amazing. She is tough, brave, courageous, loyal and knows when to ask for help when things gets hard. She is the best hard time Chief the Hoof could ask for.

Sluggard is a new character which grew on me. He is extremely handsome and carefree which is rare in the Lot Lands.

Oats and Jackal were barely in this but I love them still. Jackal changed a lot, he is more experienced and level headed than before.
Profile Image for Derpa.
258 reviews40 followers
November 24, 2019
I am disappointed. So far this is my fourth book by this author and the first one I didn't love. Lets get into my reasons.

Even when I just read the first book I pointed out how Fetching is my least favourite character other than the villains. While many, from Oats to Polecat to Beryl have interesting backstories and just something special about them Fetching was always just angsty and grumpy and nothing interesting. So when I heard this book has her as the protagonist I got this bad feeling and man, I was so right about it. Somehow even after hundreds of pages of following her she doesn't feel any more complex an layered than she was in book one.
Call me an asshole, but an angry woman doing angry woman things just doesn't cut it. No, I don't think that makes her strong or special. Especially not when she is really showing the signs of just being "sooo badaaaaaass" and also everyone loving her or being evil. Honestly, people can not love you without trying to murder everyone you care about, duh.

The plot twists are also very soap opera and not really that punchy. In book one certain revelations completely changed how you saw the world and the powers at work in it. Here it's more like things you should care about if you care about Fetching and I do not. They feel very very cliché.

Another thing I feel this book lacks is answers. Somehow the characters manage to blunder from one place to the other, with things happening without a proper explanation and nothing much gets solved and it's kind of... ignored? It feels like these people have no curiosity and they don't even bother wanting to know more about their own circumstances and that makes the long, drawn out parts of everything being bad and gloomy and filled with suffering feel even more boring. The fun was just lost.
Which ties into one more thing. Who, oh why do we have to have people with relevant skills die stupidly because of injuries not nearly as bad as many others survive? You would think for added drama. No, Fetch magically gains the necessary skill like a day later when it is very very needed because... magic.

Mr. French obviously tries very hard to convince me I like Fetching and it's not working.

So far the two books had two different protagonists. If the next one has Jackal again or Oats (still my fave boi) then I am on board and willing to kinda forget about this one ever happening. If not... mehhh. I don't want to read more Fetching. No more ridiculous plot twists that make me roll my eyes more than anything.

I also personally prefer the original book 1 cover. These new ones just don't offer anything that interesting, no cool dynamic art or anything.
Profile Image for John McDermott.
373 reviews49 followers
May 2, 2022
A great follow up to the first book. Very well written I thought that stands out from the crowd. We're very much in Grimdark territory once again with probably even more swearing than the last one ! Recommended if you liked to read a Spaghetti Western in a Fantasy setting. Very good indeed.
Profile Image for The Scribblings.
92 reviews33 followers
October 8, 2019
Struggling to hold her hoof together in diminished circumstances, and separated from her two closest friends, Fetching isn’t going to give up without a fight. Not against murderous hyenas, an seemingly unstoppable orc or even the sludge that’s slowly poisoning her.

This is based on a proof copy and contains mild spoilers for the previous instalment, The Grey Bastards.

After the events of The Grey Bastards; the hoof, renamed the True Bastards, is in difficulty. They’ve lost their home, they can barely keep everyone fed and they’ve lost a number of brothers. None of them feel it as much as Fetching, their new chief. Having long been looked down on for being the only female half-orc in the hoof, she is determined to do everything she can to keep her brothers alive, even if it means keeping her own illness from them.

Given that The Grey Bastards made the list of my favourite reads of 2018, it’s safe to say I was looking forward to this one. The shift in protagonist from Jackal to Fetch was unexpected but is well-handled and makes a lot of sense given the on-going plot. Fetch is every bit as tough, if not more so, than Jackal or any of the other Bastards, with her stubbornness and fierce protectiveness coming through as her defining characteristics. In most cases, she’s also more level-headed and capable of thinking her way around a situation. This is something she desperately needs as the Bastards are beset from various sides and in various ways.

One thing that I especially liked about The True Bastards is that you’re given an even greater sense of the bonds between the members of the hoof. Unlike The Grey Bastards, where there were factions pushing against each other, here the half-orcs are generally united and working together. One of the parts that stayed with me was when one character was dying, the group gathered around him, carefully lifting him onto his mount so that he could fulfil their creed, “Live in the saddle, die on the hog.”.

Another thing was my impression that the world was broadening, with new characters giving new information about the lands beyond the Lot and returning characters revealing unsuspected back-stories, some of which is of vital importance to Fetch.

Like the previous instalment, the action is hard and brutal, the conversations often funny and laced with curses, and there is plenty of both. But it feels as though the characterization is deepening, becoming surer, giving the book an even great impact. Definitely recommended.

5 out of 5 thrums.
Profile Image for David Firmage.
216 reviews44 followers
August 24, 2021
A good, enjoyable sequel to The Grey Bastards, without surpassing it. The pace is a little slower overall but really comes alive in the later stages.

Profile Image for  Charlie.
477 reviews218 followers
July 18, 2020
A great book and series I already need to reread. Looking forward to what should be an epic finale!!
Profile Image for Karen  ⚜Mess⚜.
726 reviews45 followers
October 8, 2019
This story is the meat and potatoes of the Lot Lands series. Although, not as action packed and intriguing as The Grey Bastards, True Bastards does have a lot of information that holds the story line together.

With so much going on in this book I have great expectations for the next book! Hold on to your hog because this whole series is going to take us on a wild adventure!

I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book, so I could give an honest review.

Profile Image for Emily .
730 reviews74 followers
May 19, 2022
It feels bad to give this one 2 stars because I really liked the first book. Part of my problem is that I loved Jackal and I don't like Fetch at all. I felt cheated that Jackal is barely in the book. I will say that the early part of the book wasn't too bad, but it just ended up feeling like a slog to finish. Things kept getting more and more ridiculous. I don't think I'm going to bother reading the last one.
Profile Image for Sarah Wynker.
278 reviews134 followers
Want to read
July 9, 2019
I only see Fetching mentioned in the blurb, I hope Jackal will appear too! Somehow, I have a feeling that this book will be an alt feministic mess because "progressive" and there will probably be "diversity" because authors want to be trendy and I will hate it all. Please, can we bring back fantasy books without an agenda? I don't think I've liked a fantasy book published post-2017.

BTW, it goes without saying that I want to be wrong and that I hope I will like The True Bastards as much as I did the first book!
Profile Image for Soo.
2,598 reviews257 followers
August 3, 2020

- I wasn't a fan of Lisa Flanagan's narration. It wasn't the right fit for the story or character.
- The novel suffers from being a transition piece.
- Lots of great world building & plot elements but not as engaging as the first book.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,440 reviews829 followers
December 27, 2019
Nowhere near as entertaining as the Grey Bastards. Notice I didn’t say ‘nowhere as good’ because it was good, but much slower.
Profile Image for Robert Kemp.
25 reviews6 followers
January 6, 2020
I waited weeks for a copy to become available from the NYPL, but the wait was definitely worth it! I loved the sequel nearly as much as the original. I suppose that would be my overall impression of THE TRUE BASTARDS, that if you loved THE GREY BASTARDS you'll love the sequel.

While I did really love it, I do wish the author took more chances and raised the stakes a bit. I never really felt that any of the main characters were in any real peril. In that way, THE TRUE BASTARDS was like a foul-mouthed and bloody marvel movie where injuries and dismemberment are meaningless.

It still gets high marks from me because I just really love hanging out with the cast of characters and the action is bone-crunchingly good. I remain all in on the series!
Profile Image for Ned Ludd.
708 reviews16 followers
October 18, 2019
Had a rough go at the start but it wrapped up very nicely. Despite the issues I had with this volume I must admit that the characterization of the POVs was executed remarkably.
Profile Image for Griffin Hansen.
73 reviews7 followers
August 20, 2019
Thanks to the publisher Crown for my review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Also note! I'm assuming you've read The Grey Bastards, so you know that these books are not for kids! Though I imagine a cursory glance at the title and first page would tell you all you need to know. If you don’t have a problem with mature content, you’re in for a hell of a time.

Crank up yer hog! The Bastards are back, and Fetching is Head Bitch in Charge.

Life in the Lot Lands is hard, and no one knows that better than the True Bastards. After the bloody events of The Grey Bastards, the now aptly-named True Bastards struggle to survive in the wasteland of Ul-wundulas. Fetching is the chief of the hoof, and in Bastard fashion she takes on the heavy weight of leadership as her half-orc, half-human people weather the storms of famine, betrayal, and dark magic. Old enemies knock at the Bastards' gate, while new enemies appear with terrifying new powers. Pushed to her breaking point, can Fetch lead her wily gang of brothers out of the jaws of death?

”A hoof rallies around power, strength, but that’s not what holds them. Their loyalty is bound to a conviction that the one leading them has the grit to stand longest in the storm, the one who will bear the hardest tasks so they don’t have to. Father was wrong about her, and about himself. This had nothing to do with lust or love or fear. This was about backing the mongrel who had the appetite to eat punishment and come back for more. Hard as living in the badlands could be, it was nothing compared to living it in the hoofmaster’s chair. Why would any want to issue challenge and take that on when tere was another willing to stand between them and the flying bolts? What wouldn’t they forgive to keep that protection?”

Fetching learns what it means to be a leader in The True Bastards. She has learned from The Claymaster's mistakes and wants to be a better for the good of her people. Trouble is, with the Bastards in the thick of trouble, decisions are hard and sacrifices have to be made. Bermudo and the Hisparthan army are growing restless and their runaway vagrants threaten The Bastards. Zirko and the Unyars call upon riders every Betrayer's Moon, threatening the thin the ranks of The Bastards at any given moment. Thirst and famine sweep through the town of Winsome, now the Bastards' headquarters since the Kiln was melted. In the midst of famine, other gangs of half-orc hoofs start to look more foe than friend. And from somewhere in Ul-wundulas, Crafty's machinations are beginning to take hold, not to mention other sources of more sinister magic at work.

In the midst of the heaping piles of shit in their world, the True Bastards lean on each other. I love the emphasis on brotherhood in these books, especially among a group as scorned and pitiable as the mongrel half-orcs. The Bastards' brotherhood is the beating heart of The True Bastards, each member's found-family bonding them more tightly than blood ever could.

French’s characters are compelling as hell (looking at you Fetching) and they’re funny to boot. Some characters in The True Bastards are new, some are old. You'll recognize names like Oats, Hoodwink, Polecat, and more. You'll also be introduced to new members of The Bastards, some seeking grandeur in all the wrong places, others just happy to find a bed to rest in.

I know what you're thinking, where in the hot, hog-wallowing hell is Jackal? I'll just let you know that your questions will absolutely be answered. And though Jackal does take a role in this story, his is Fetch's book and the change in perspective was a great decision by French.

I loved the episodic nature of the story, how (especially early on) the story flowed seamlessly from one setting to the next. I appreciated more detail behind Strava, Hispartha, even the Tines’ lands. In fact, I enjoyed the pace of the story immensely. The first half was slow but fun to read, but right around the middle things get cranked up to 11 and it's pedal to the metal until the end.

The True Bastards is an immensely satisfying story of self-sacrifice and brotherhood that, much like riding Ugfuck, is hard to stop once you start.

"Live in the saddle, die on the hog!"
Profile Image for Dustin.
159 reviews11 followers
November 13, 2019
Great Bellico’s balls!

The True Bastards is book two in The Lot Lands series by Jonathan French. I really enjoyed the first one about the hoof of half-orcs mounted on giant hogs battling to keep their slice of wilderness safe from a variety of threats. This second book is just as entertaining but Mr. French really steps up his game in just about every way. With Fetching as the main POV we get treated to The Lot Lands from the perspective of the only female hoof chief. If you like almost non-stop action and a variety of non-human characters presented in a realistic way along with great bantering dialogue, this book is right up your alley.

If you were one of those who were off put by any “toxic masculinity” in the Grey Bastards, ( I was not) then you’ll probably find The True Bastards, if not kinder and gentler, at least a little more mindful. The book is really a character study of Fetching, who greets each day as a fight she has to find a way to win, or at least survive. She has been saddled with the responsibilities of chief, including protecting a group of humans( or frails) and trying to rebuild the hoof’s home while delaying the starvation that is constantly lurking. She doesn’t get any respect from most of the other chiefs in the male-centric world of the half orcs, and there are a half dozen other threats to the Bastards. What do you do if you’re a born leader who has been raised to believe you don’t belong?

Jonathan French somehow packs about 3 book’s worth of story into this one and the Lot Lands are never going to be the same. In case you can’t tell, I’m all in on to read the next book.
Profile Image for Blodeuedd Finland.
3,405 reviews292 followers
January 25, 2020
I liked it, but at the same time it did feel boring at times, like several times. At times it felt mostly ok.

I really liked book 1, it was grim and effed up. Then book 2 came with a new voice. Suddenly Fetching was the main character, and I just do not like her. She is angry, and angry, and angry. I know your lot in lot sucks, but eh I just did not care for her.

And then the story got boggled down with her past, and it was a looooong way there.

I miss Jackal.

I can only see the negative things when I write this. I just miss the awesomeness of book 1, which made it one of the best books last year.

Hmm, I really should give it a 2 because I honestly do not feel like reading more in this series. But I will give it a 3, for trying. Too nice

Profile Image for Mark.
414 reviews65 followers
October 21, 2019
A slow and boring follow up to a great book. Fetching's tale is less than interesting. Also there is a squirting scene. A Pornhub style squirting scene.
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