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Blood Royal: A True Tale of Crime and Detection in Medieval Paris Hardcover – February 25, 2014


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Blood Royal: A True Tale of Crime and Detection in Medieval Paris + The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France
Price for both: $33.04

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Best Books of the Year
Best Books of 2014
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2014's Best Books of the Year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1ST edition (February 25, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316224510
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316224512
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #179,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

On a November evening in 1407, Louis of Orleans, brother of the mentally unbalanced French king Charles VI, was bludgeoned and stabbed to death on a Parisian street by several masked men. This was no simple street mugging. Louis had exercised great power during his brother’s frequent bouts of incapacitation. With France still embroiled in the Hundred Years’ War with England and facing severe internal threats to the monarchy, the murder had far-reaching implications. To unravel the assassination plot, Guillaume de Tigonville, the chief law enforcement officer of Paris, had to wade through the layers of criminality, corruption, and high politics that permeated different levels of French society. Jager has utilized de Tigonville’s written report as the basis for a tense and exciting true-life detective story. De Tigonville is the ideal detective, combining street smarts, a relentless drive, and a willingness to follow where the facts lead regardless of whose toes he steps on. An outstanding crime tale that also provides a good survey of both the glittering facade and the seamier aspects of medieval Paris. --Jay Freeman

Review

Praise for THE LAST DUEL:

"This high-suspense, sanguinary tale ensnares readers. . . . The tension is nearly unendurable. . . . Sex, savagery, and high-level political maneuvers energize a splendid piece of popular history."—Kirkus Reviews

"Jager provides an excellent depiction of feudal society, placing the reader into the lives of knights and nobles, detailing their relationships with each other and their lords. The ongoing Hundred Years' War and each man's role in it give this personal conflict its historical context. The story of the duel and the rivalry leading up to it make for quick reading as enthralling and engrossing as any about a high-profile celebrity scandal today."—Gavin Quinn, Booklist

"If you read only one book about the Middle Ages, Eric Jager's thriller is the one to read."—Steven Ozment, author of A Mighty Fortress and The Burgermeister's Daughter

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Customer Reviews

This is entertaining, well written and well researched.
R Young
As much as I love reading non-fiction history, I admit that it is rare to find a book that is so riveting it reads like fiction.
M.Jacobsen
This is a fascinating story about a turbulent time in French history.
David I. Williams

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By M.Jacobsen TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 25, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
As much as I love reading non-fiction history, I admit that it is rare to find a book that is so riveting it reads like fiction. But Jager has written such a book. Paris in the early 1400s was a political mess. King Charles was certifiably crazy and unfit to rule most of the time, leaving a power vacuum that (of course) was constantly being fought over by other powerful nobles. When one of those nobles, Louis of Orleans, was murdered on the streets of Paris one dark night, all hell broke loose and the country very nearly fell into a devastating civil war.

Jager's book is not only a fascinating recounting of this hot political mess, but also the story of Guillaume de Tigonville, the chief law enforcement officer of Paris at the time of the murder and the man who had to solve this crime. The techniques he used, discovered on a piece of parchment centuries after they were recorded, are absolutely fascinating and completely relevant today. Jager writes a taut narrative and never lets the story lag for a moment. This is not your typical non-fiction. If you enjoy the writing of Erik Larson, I highly recommend you read Eric Jager's work. You won't be disappointed.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Nathan Pittman on March 23, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I can't help but feel that I was a bit misled by the way that this book is marketed and presented. The subtitle, after all, assures me that this is a true tale of crime and detection. However, there are only about two or three chapters that deal with the investigation of the crime itself. There's not really much of a mystery here; the crime and its culprit are quickly uncovered and if I am supposed to better appreciate the investigator's methods I don't feel that the book quite got me to that point.

Most of the book is really about the civil war between powerful French families at the start of the 15th century. I didn't know much about this bit of history and being a history enthusiast I thoroughly enjoyed the bird's eye view of this event. As others have noted, the storytelling and writing are quite engaging. I recommend the book to people who want an introduction to this subject or who might want to kindle a spark of historical enthusiasm in someone who might think all this stuff is dull and boring. The story here is a real life game of thrones, with mad kings, daring betrayals, and even a hint of magic.

However, I can only give 3 stars because the work feels incongruous to me. As noted, the investigation into the murder at the heart of the book is really quite brief. I was stunned when the author quickly revealed the perpetrator. In the end I was unsatisfied. I didn't get a nitty gritty exploration of true crime and detection (I should note I found the book through its exposure on the blog the Volokh Conspiracy and I had recently read The Faithful Executioner so I have some interest in law and history) and the book's larger subject, the French Civil War, breezes by.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By the GreatReads! TOP 500 REVIEWER on February 25, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Blood Royal: A True Tale of Crime and Detection in Medieval Paris by Eric Jager is an enjoyable and engaging book that explores the shocking murder of Louis of Orleans that impacted French politics for a long time. The story follows in the footsteps of the Provost of Paris, Guillaume de Tignonville, the city's chief law enforcement officer, who leaves no stone unturned to unearth the truth.

Eric Jager has meticulously researched the case and delved into hitherto unexplored areas to bring the case to its logical conclusion. However, there are certain areas which seem misleading at face-value. Foremost is the title of the book. While it is certainly murder of the worst kind, it is much more than that – it’s a political assassination. The killing of Louis who often stood for his brother King Charles cannot and shouldn’t be clubbed as just another murder.

Moreover, while the book focuses on the crime and its subsequent investigation headed by Guillaume de Tignonville, much space has been devoted to the effects the assassination had on French politics and the nation’s relations with other countries.

In fine, Blood Royal is not just a true tale of crime and detection in Medieval Paris but a political assassination that impacted French politics for almost an entire generation. It is readable, entertaining, enlightening and informative.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By David I. Williams on February 25, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
It was a cold November night in 1407. In Paris, the Duke of Orleans, younger brother of the King and the regent of France, was returning to his lodgings after dining with the queen. He was suddenly attacked by a group of armed men. They pulled him from his horse and hacked him to death. The group of armed, masked men then made their way through the streets terrifying any one who dared to look out of the doors or windows. Then simply vanished. The subsequent investigation and discovery of the person responsible for this action would affect the next twenty-five years of French history.

Louis of Orleans was an unpopular figure. His brother, Charles VI, suffered from recurring bouts of madness. Louis had been appointed regent to act when Charles was indisposed. Louis used his position to raid the national treasury for his own gain. He was a notorious womanizer who routinely seduced the wives of other nobles. He was also in a type of cold war with his cousin John, the Duke of Burgundy.

In charge of the investigation of the murder was Guillaume de Tignonville, the provost of Paris. de Tignonville soon discovered the culprit. The man who ordered the assassination was none other than his cousin, the Duke of Burgundy. This revelation would plunge France into civil unrest for the next twenty five years. Henry V of England would use this unrest to invade France. The Burgundians would help the English in the war against the French crown.

This is a fascinating story about a turbulent time in French history. Jager does an excellent job of piecing this story together. The French aristocracy, particularly the royal line, comes across as one big dysfunctional mess. It’s the kind of story one would expect to see on an HBO original series.
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