Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French

If you are a half-orc, life doesn't get better than riding with the Grey Bastards.  Friends Jackal, Oats and Fetching grew up together in the orphanage and become members at the same time.  The groups are necessary to protect The Lots, the lands that were granted to the half-orcs after the Great War.  Their purpose is to act as a safeguard and buffer to keep the orcs from invading and to border on the Elven lands.  It's a life of duty, hard-riding mounted on hogs to patrol the land and frequent battles with various invaders.  There are other groups, but everyone knows the Bastards are the best.

But all is not good.  The group's leader has been in power for many, many years and some question if he is still capable of leading the group.  Jackal is one of those and is interested in leading himself.  But to challenge the leader can easily lead to death or banishment and he's not sure he has the votes to win.  Recently, a new half-orc has shown up.  He seems to be a wizard and while he professes friendship and support for Jackal, Jack isn't sure if he can trust him or what his real story is.  There seem to be lots of power struggles and machinations throughout the world and it takes a smart, dedicated guy to survive and thrive.  What will come next?

Jonathan French has created an interesting world that arrives fully fleshed out and a hero in Jackal that will engage the reader's interest and sympathy.  The battle scenes are frequent and well done, and the issues of friendship and loyalty are explored.  The language and sex scenes are not PG, but all in all this first novel in an anticipated series has burst upon the fantasy world and I, for one, can't wait to read more about this world.  This book is recommended for fantasy readers.

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