I find it fascinating how buzz can grow for certain books, weeks and even months before they’re published. I’m talking about real buzz, grass-roots stuff, reader reviews on public sites, not just high-profile blurbs on the back of the book.
I was flat-out astonished to see the early buzz for Jonathan French’s orc epic The Grey Bastards, coming in hardcover June 19 from Crown. Nearly three weeks from publication it already has 54 reviews at Amazon, and a whopping 473 ratings at Goodreads. That’s off the charts, especially for an unknown author with only two previous small press releases to his credit. It wasn’t until I dug a bit deeper (and had already selected it to feature today) that I realized the Crown edition is a reprint of a 2015 small press original from Ballymalis Press. Still, that’s plenty unusual all on its own, so I decided to go ahead and feature it today anyway. Here’s the description.
Call them outcasts, call them savages — they’ve been called worse, by their own mothers — but Jackal is proud to be a Grey Bastard.
He and his fellow half-orcs patrol the barren wastes of the Lot Lands, spilling their own damned blood to keep civilized folk safe. A rabble of hard-talking, hog-riding, whore-mongering brawlers they may be, but the Bastards are Jackal’s sworn brothers, fighting at his side in a land where there’s no room for softness. And once Jackal’s in charge — as soon as he can unseat the Bastards’ tyrannical, seemingly unkillable founder — there’s a few things they’ll do different. Better.
Or at least, that’s the plan. Until the fallout from a deadly showdown makes Jackal start investigating the Lot Lands for himself. Soon, he’s wondering if his feelings have blinded him to ugly truths about this world, and the Bastards’ place in it.
In a quest for answers that takes him from decaying dungeons to the frontlines of an ancient feud, Jackal finds himself battling invading orcs, rampaging centaurs, and grubby human conspiracies alike — along with a host of dark magics so terrifying they’d give even the heartiest Bastard pause. Finally, Jackal must ride to confront a threat that’s lain in wait for generations, even as he wonders whether the Bastards can — or should — survive.
Delivered with a generous wink to Sons of Anarchy, featuring sneaky-smart worldbuilding and gobs of fearsomely foul-mouthed charm, The Grey Bastards is a grimy, pulpy, masterpiece — and a raunchy, swaggering, cunningly clever adventure that’s like nothing you’ve read before.
The Grey Bastards will be published by Crown on June 19, 2018. It is 432 pages, priced at $27 in hardcover and $13.99 in digital formats. Anyone out there read this in the earlier edition?