Review: The Free Bastards by Jonathan French

55644021As if I was going to say no to a review copy of the last book in the Lot Lands series, amirite? 😀

Thanks to the author, as well as Del Rey via NetGalley for the review copy!

The Hisparthan armies on the horizon are mighty, bolstered by divine champions, dread sorcerers, and gunpowder. It’s almost more than the half-orc rebellion can hope to repel.

But Oats has won impossible fights before. He’s a thriceblood, after all, more orc than man. And he hasn’t forgotten how to kill. He’ll stack the bodies high for his chief and his brethren, if that’s the price of freeing the Lots from human tyranny.

Besides, the invading forces are getting a damned sight more than they bargained for. They’re not facing a handful of half-orc hoofs, but a true army—one forged from all the peoples of the Lots. At its head are Fetching, in full command of the ruinous power that runs through her veins, and Jackal, armed with the blessings of a dead god.

Yet Oats can’t help but find his faith wavering. Once the strongest Bastard, he soon realizes that in this battle, even the strength of a thriceblood is easily conquered. And after a grievous loss strikes, he begins to fear that this war will lead the Lots not to freedom but to ruin.

So when another path to peace beckons, he has no choice but to walk it. Even if it means betting the Lots’ fate, and his own, on the promises of the Bastards’ wiliest adversary—and making a perilous journey into the heart of Hispartha itself.

This volume of the series follows Oats, who is a thrice blood orc, and one of the main crew that were in The Grey Bastards. In this volume, since the events of the first two books have lead to war with Hispartha, Oats and the Bastards are fighting the humans, who they call ‘frails’ and Oats is on the frontlines.

I quite enjoyed this volume, as I have the previous two.  The Free Bastards starts out strong, right into some action and never lets up after that. It’s paced very well and I was done before I knew it! Fans of the series will be happy to see faces from previous volumes, most especially Jackal and Fetching. These three have been friends since they were children, so it’s nice to see them still together. I thought it was really well paced and well written, and I cheered for Oats throughout.

I (usually) love most of the banter between the Bastards, though it will 100% not be for everyone, as f-bombs (among other things) are thrown around a lot, and I am a fan of sweary banter. There’s a lot of ‘locker room talk’ so to speak, as the half-orcs of the Lot Lands don’t give too many thoughts towards propriety. But here is where my criticism comes in.

Look, I love these books, and I do see where the sexism and racism are there because they tie into the bigger story of the Bastards’ struggle… but it didn’t seem necessary for all the homophobia and fat shaming to be there as well. I mean, I want to rec this series to people who I think would have fun with it, but definitely haven’t recced it to several people because of these vibes. It’s not egregious (to me), and this volume seemed to have less than previous ones, but it’s definitely noticeable enough that I stopped recommending this series to friends of mine in case they’d find it more offensive or egregious than I did.

That said, I’ve still had a good time with Jack, Fetch, and Oats throughout the series. I wish it was just a bit more inclusive, but it’s still a fun read nonetheless. This was an often-funny and sometimes-feelsy ending to the series, and if you are a fan of fantasy with lots of action and sweary banter, then you may enjoy The Free Bastards! 3.75/5 stars!~


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