The Free Bastards v Riggwelter

Book: The Free Bastards
Author: Jonathan French
Publisher: Orbit
Published: 2021

POTENTIAL SPOILER WARNINGS

This is the last book in the Lot Lands trilogy. I’m not going to give much background on the series as I intend to do a review of book 1 (the Grey Bastards) once I find the right beer to go with it.

I got The Free Bastards from Netgalley as an e-arc and as it was released in the UK today I’m reviewing it before the previous two, but you should really read the whole series as it’s awesome.

We start with the Hoofs at war. Like with the previous two books, the POV in Free Bastards has switched. This time we are following Oats the ‘Big Bastard’ thrice-blood, a giant with a heart of gold. As the book opens he is leading a raid on a city behind enemy lines in order to rescue a number of fellow half-orcs who have been captured. I think this scene sets the tone of Oats’ book well. Unlike his two best friends who have ascended to levels of superiority over their brethren – Fetching as the war chief of all Ulwundulas and Jackal as the near-invulnerable Arm of Atukhan – Oats can still get down and dirty with his fellows. He can still lead from the front and that makes him the perfect character to follow in this story.

Something the author does well over the three books is creating a distinct voice for each of the 3 POVs. Jackal’s think first ask questions later freneticism comes across perfectly in the first book, and likewise Fetching’s cynicism pervades how her story is told in book two. Here, with Oats, we have his internal war between his capacity for violence and his caring nature taking centre stage. Nowhere is this better explored than through his interactions and reminiscences about the two boys – Muro and Wiley- who he sees as almost his own. His tenderness and desire for a better world for them to grow up into provides the perfect counterpoint to the violence he must do to achieve it.

It’s a brilliant, epic conclusion to a series that has so much more depth than its set-up -half-orc ‘bikers’ on massive war pigs- suggests it has any right too.

Bleed for the Saddle, Fight to be Free


Beer: Riggwelter
Brewery: Black Sheep Brewery
Style: Dark Yorkshire Ale
Strength: 5.7%

This is a lovely warm comfort beer. Deep flavour that’s a little smokey in the mouth. First beer I’ve had in a while that I didn’t store in the fridge. More of a pub beer than one to drink on your own of an evening perhaps but still good to drink at home anyway.

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