Title: The Grey Bastards
Author: Jonathan French
Publication Date: October 15th 2015
I received a review copy from the author. This does not affect my opinion in any way.
Live in the saddle. Die on the hog.
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 Bastards, one of eight hoofs that have survived the harsh embrace of the Lots. Young, cunning and ambitious, he schemes to unseat the increasingly tyrannical founder of the Bastards, a plague-ridden warlord called the Claymaster. Supporting Jackal’s dangerous bid for leadership are Oats, a hulking mongrel with more orc than human blood, and Fetching, the only female rider in all the hoofs.
When the troubling appearance of a foreign sorcerer comes upon the heels of a faceless betrayal, Jackal’s plans are thrown into turmoil. He finds himself saddled with a captive elf girl whose very presence begins to unravel his alliances. With the annual blood rite of the Betrayer Moon close at hand, Jackal must decide where his loyalties truly lie, and carve out his place in a world that rewards only the vicious.
The Grey Bastards was a pleasant surprise and I loved every minute of it.
I can honestly say I’ve never read another book quite like this. The concept of the ‘hoofs’ who are made up of half-orc, who protect each other and the humans from Orc and Centaurs who ride into battle astride these fearsome hogs is just unique, bad-ass and amazing.
The main character, Jackal is a member of the Grey Bastards hoof. who want to make a bid for the ruling chair. Unfortunately, things are not as simple as he thought, and everything he thought he knew about the hoofs’ history is about to be challenged.
The pacing is fast, the battles vivid, the magic just enough and the dialogue witty and snarky with the right amount of dirty to propel the plot. There is intrigue, suspense and lots of action and hair-raising moments for our hero. If you like your fantasies dark and grim, and don’t have a problem with vulgarity, this is one book you don’t want to miss out on. Some persons might find the language offensive, but if found it essential since it just fits the overall feel of the story.
I really enjoyed this read and look forward to more adventures with the Grey Bastards. “Live In the Saddle, die on the hog”!
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