The Grey Bastards v Fantom

Book: The Grey Bastards
Author: Jonathan French
Publisher: Orbit
Published: 2018 (Self-Published in 2015)

Throughout the Lots, Hoofs of half-orcs provide a buffer between the ‘civilised’ humans and the rapacious full blooded orcs who are constantly trying to invade. Book one in the Lot Lands trilogy, its POV character is a half-orc called Jackal who is a member of the Grey Bastards. Jackal is cocky and arrogant from the start, though not lacking in charm. He dreams of leading the Bastards one day and grows increasingly frustrated by the leadership of the disease-ridden Claymaster.

The world-building in this book is brilliantly crass. It always seems to be compared to Sons of Anarchy, but with Hogs instead of motorcycles, and that is because it is a very apt comparison. There is an abundance of foul language (much of it new, some of it familiar, some of it boht new and familiar), the relationship amongst the riders in the Bastards is a more cynical and rough play on the idea of found families, and the culture of the Lots besides the Hoofs has a distinctly frontier feel to it. There is a whorehouse which acts as a sort of meeting point/watering hole, a religious cult of hobbit like creatures, one of whom is the only one in the Lots capable of foretelling which nights Centaurs will go on a rampage.

I loved this book, but I would put a caveat on any recommendation as there is a lot in them which I can understand not being to everyone’s tastes. The half-orcs are a hard bunch and their language reflects a macho upbringing. My opinion is that this fits, and is part of what is being explored, but I can also see why others might feel it is gratuitous at times.

Beer: Fantom
Brewery: Pivovara Medvedgrad
Style: Pale Ale
Strength: 5.3%

I like my Pale Ales like I like my romantic partners – good depth of character and mostly made up of water (there was a more salubrious version of this joke which was edited out) – and this beer fits the bill.

Not sure if I’ve had any Croatian beers before, but for the first dipping of my toe into what their craft scene has to offer this has been a pleasure to drink.

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