Jonathan French’s debut novel, THE GREY BASTARDS (Crown; on sale June 19, 2018), is a raucous, blood-soaked adventure that approaches the epic fantasy genre from an entirely new angle. Originally self-published, it won the 2016 Self-Publishing Fantasy Blog-off (SPFBO), where a panel of ten top fantasy bloggers picked it as the best of hundreds of entries, with international bestselling author Mark Lawrence hailing it as “a filthy, charismatic, and frankly excellent read.” Crown’s editor, who published the debuts of such novelists as Andy Weir and Ernest Cline, recognized French’s talent immediately and knew the author had created something unprecedented.
Picture Lord of the Rings reimagined by way of Sons of Anarchy. Ever since J.R.R. Tolkien popularized orcs and elves, they’ve been co-opted by novels, films, TV shows, and even games like Dungeon & Dragons and World of Warcraft. Here, French takes these familiar high-fantasy elements (along with wizards, halflings, centaurs, and others) and—with a wink to the reader—recasts them in his own shockingly down and dirty fashion. This time, the monsters are the good guys as we follow Jackal, a protagonist whom New York Times bestselling author Scott Sigler calls “half orc and all badass,” in a swaggering, action-packed adventure that author Brian McClellan dubs “a bloody good tale of battles, intrigue, betrayal, duty, and frickin’ war pigs.”
Jackal is proud to be a Grey Bastard, a member of a sworn brotherhood of half-orcs. Unloved and unwanted in civilized society, the Bastards eke out a hard life in the desolate no-man’s-land called the Lots, protecting frail and noble human civilization from invading bands of full-blooded orcs. But as Jackal is soon to learn, his pride may be misplaced. Because a festering secret lies at the heart of the Bastards’ existence—one that reveals the truth behind humanity’s tenuous peace with the orcs, and exposes the danger on the horizon. On the heels of the ultimate betrayal, Jackal must scramble to stop an invasion even as he wonders where his true loyalties lie.
THE GREY BASTARDS is stuffed with inventive action, clever world-building, and a constantly surprising plot. Equal parts humor and epic struggle, it’s at once one of the most compelling fantasy stories in years and a story that will make fantasy readers grin as the sardonic voice pokes fun at familiar tropes: prissy elves, oddball halflings, rotund and powerful wizards, and let us not forget the corrupt human beings. And if you’re left hungering for more at the end of the book, there’s good news: this novel is book one in a series!
Praise for THE GREY BASTARDS
“A filthy, charismatic and frankly excellent read.”
—Mark Lawrence, international bestselling author of Prince of Thorns and Red Sister
“A funny thing happens when reading The Grey Bastards. You’re rolling along, smiling at the novelties on display, but then, almost without warning, you find yourself truly in the world French has created, and it all becomes wonderfully familiar and convincing. The world-building creates exactly the kind of seamless transition that makes fantasy literature compelling, informative, and just plain fun.”
—R.A. Salvatore, New York Times bestselling author of The Legend of Drizzt
“French flips the fantasy script as the monsters become the good guys, fueling an action-packed, sneakily smart adventure. Half orc and all badass, Jackal is a hero you won’t soon forget.”
—Scott Sigler, New York Times bestselling author of Alive and Infected
“The Grey Bastards dragged me in immediately. A bloody good tale of battles, intrigue, betrayal, duty and frickin’ war pigs.”
—Brian McClellan, author of The Powder Mage trilogy
“A gritty adventure with a fantastic, foul-mouthed voice and filthy, lovable characters in a wonderfully original world. Fans of Abercrombie’s THE FIRST LAW or the soldierly banter of Erikson’s MALAZAN BOOK OF THE FALLEN will like this a lot.”
—Django Wexler, author of The Shadow Campaigns series