The True Bastards by Jonathan French – Review

Cover- The True Bastards

Published: October 8, 2019

Publisher: Crown Publishing

Series: The Lot Lands #2

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 592 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

The sequel to The Grey Bastards--another irresistibly swashbuckling, swaggering, foul-mouthed adventure fantasy.

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 in the year since she took power, the True Bastards have struggled to survive. 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.


I was actually a little hesitant to pick up The True Bastards at all because while I liked the first book, I didn’t love it the way so many others in the fantasy community seemed to. It was absolutely raved about for months and yeah, I liked it… just not as enthusiastically. The True Bastards on the other hand. Wow. I was really into this and part of that might be because it felt somewhat smaller scale and I just liked Fetching way more than Jackal.

This picks up some time after the events of The Grey Bastards and Fetching is now chief of the True Bastards. She’s the only female hoof leader in the Lot Lands and that’s just one of her many struggles. Her hoof and her people are starving and are relying on charity from another hoof but it’s not enough and the dangers of the Lots are literally at their door. Their former fortress is no more and they’re all in a shoddily walled town lacking what they need to stay properly afloat in the chaos. Also, there’s a full blooded orc mage haunting the lands with his pack of horrifying hyenas that will literally tear people to shreds.  To say that Fetch has a lot on her hands is possibly the understatement of the century.

I loved getting inside her head – she has so much to deal with and a deadly secret to keep on top of all that. Her right hand man Oats is gone because he was starving himself to death so others could eat and Jackal is off trying to hunt down Crafty, the mage that started all this mess originally. She seems to be suffering from a case of imposter syndrome, despite the fact that she’s tough and clever and her hoof clearly loves her. The book has plenty of action, but also skims logistics and the dynamics of leading that the previous book never really got the chance to cover. We get to see more of the elves and learn more of the world outside of the Lot Lands and Hispartha which I thought was pretty fantastic. It’s given readers a taste of the world as a whole rather than the corner that it was previously zoomed in on. I think the next book will further expand horizons as well

Overall, I was impressed and surprised at the extent of my enjoyment. I was initially daunted by the nearly 600 page book mostly because I felt like I enjoyably trudged through the first, but I found myself picking this up every chance I got. I had to know what happened next and things were so fraught that characters really might die and I just HAD TO KNOW, you know? I don’t know for sure that there will be future books, but boy, the ending really set things up for an adventure and a half! I really hope the author carries on the story just a little more because now I’m stoked for battle!

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