REVIEW: The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French

If Sons of Anarchy and Lord of the Rings had a bastard child who fought and scrapped in the muck to survive, it’d be The Grey Bastards. This brilliant mash-up of dark fantasy and motorcycle gangs is a fast-paced page-turner that’ll keep you hooked from start to finish.

Jackal is a member of the Grey Bastards, a brotherhood gang of half-orcs riding their massive (and literal) hogs around the Lots (badlands) to defend the border of civilisation from the full-blooded orcs out to destroy it. Under their leader, the Claymaster, the Grey Bastards fight, fornicate, and give each other a constant ribbing. However, Jackal sees the Claymaster’s decisions becoming more and more damaging to his hoof (gang) and the arrival of a mysterious stranger makes him think that perhaps it’s time for a change in the Grey Bastards’ leadership.

The Grey Bastards is a fun story full of twists and turns and betrayals. The characters very quickly grow on you, their personalities really well fleshed out by the author through consistent banter to make the victories sweeter and the defeats all that much harder to bear. The setting is frontier-style, and the world includes a broad range of beings, from humans and half-orcs, to elves and a weird creature kind of like a new aged The Blob.

All the messy details are in this book. It’s gritty and grimy as all hell, and reminded me a bit of Joe Abercrombie’s style. However, this isn’t a Grimdark book, by any stretch of the imagination—it’s more dark fantasy—but fans of grimdark will get a huge kick out of this book. I highly recommend you grab a copy and get stuck in.

“Live in the saddle! Die on the Hog!”

Buy The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French

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Adrian Collins

Adrian Collins runs Grimdark Magazine and loves anything to do with telling darker stories. Doesn't matter the format, or when it was published or produced--just give him a grim story told in a dark world by a morally grey protagonist and this bloke's in his happy place. Add in a barrel aged stout to sip on after a cheeky body surf under the Australian sun, and that's his heaven.