The True Bastards by Jonathan French

The True Bastards (Lot Lands, #2)

by Jonathan French


Following the runaway success of Jonathan French's critically acclaimed fantasy adventure The Grey Bastards comes book two in the Lot Lands series - The True Bastards

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 the hoof she inherited is on the brink of collapse.

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.

'[An] action-packed sequel . . . . Imagine an outlaw biker gang of half-orcs riding giant war pigs and you've captured this saga's gloriously dirty soul' Kirkus

Praise for the series:

'An addictively readable - and undeniably cool - fantasy masterwork' Kirkus

'A gritty adventure with a fantastic, foul-mouthed voice' Django Wexler

'A bloody good tale of battle, betrayal and war pigs' Brian McClellan

'Jonathan French has to be lauded for his plot ingenuity, bawdry charm and vicious characters.' Fantasy Book Critic 

'I'd like to raise a tankard to The Grey Bastards' brilliance' Fantasy Faction

Reviewed by Beth C. on

5 of 5 stars

"What will you name us, when you learn to fear us?"

This line, more than any in the book, encapsulated so much of the story. We give names, sometimes horrible ones, to those we fear - even when there is no need to fear. We get complacent and fear things that aren't truly going to hurt us - and forget to look towards those who have, little by little, already tried their hardest to damage us. And, as is so often the case, fiction reveals pieces of reality.

Fetch is not a traditional chief. She came to her leadership role in a sideways fashion, and besides that - women aren't considered worthy of being in the role. She's holding the Bastards together as best she can, but so many things have gone wrong. When does it end - and what will she have to sacrifice to end it?

Fetch ends up facing some hard truths about herself, her home, and her assumptions - as do we all, at some point or another. The question, as always, is - does she *learn* from those truths, roll with them, work to change the accepted outcomes? Or does she stubbornly persist in seeing fear and hate where they don't belong, and being blind to the real damage being done? The choice she makes will not only determine HER fate, but that of the Bastards, and all those around them.

This second book was not quite as fast-paced as the first one, but I was ok with that. Don't get me wrong - there's still A LOT that happens, but some of it is less the constant brutal battles, and more the sort of mental and emotional storytelling that really drags a reader into the character's head. When I finished the first book, I liked Fetch. I thought she was kick-ass (um, because she is), but she didn't make her mark on me as a character as much as some of the others. I was wrong. I can honestly say that she has become one of my favorite characters in ANY book in quite some time. She's strong, but not invulnerable. She's smart, she's willing to do whatever it takes for her people, she's flexible, she understands her own strengths and weaknesses, she's bitchy, she's blunt to a fault...she's the anti-hero for everyone ;)

Without giving any spoilers, book three is going to be a helluva ride. I'm certain of it. And I look forward with every fiber of my being to once more immersing myself into this world that is at once so strange and alien, and yet so humanly familiar. Because don't we all fight the same battles in the end? And what makes us who we are is *how* we choose to fight those battles - either with a hard-won honor, or by selling our soul to the highest bidder. In the world within these pages, those choices will be coming hard and fast. The wrong choice could - and probably will - mean your death.

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Reading updates

  • Started reading
  • 3 August, 2019: Finished reading
  • 30 June, 2019: Reviewed