Saturday, March 1, 2014

Review: Blood Royal by Eric Jager

Here is the description from Netgalley:
A riveting true story of murder and detection in 15th-century Paris, by one of the most brilliant medievalists of his generation. On a chilly November night in 1407, Louis of Orleans was murdered by a band of masked men. The crime stunned and paralyzed France since Louis had often ruled in place of his brother King Charles, who had gone mad. As panic seized Paris, an investigation began. In charge was the Provost of Paris, Guillaume de Tignonville, the city's chief law enforcement officer--and one of history's first detectives. As de Tignonville began to investigate, he realized that his hunt for the truth was much more dangerous than he ever could have imagined.

A rich portrait of a distant world, BLOOD ROYAL is a gripping story of conspiracy, crime and an increasingly desperate hunt for the truth. And in Guillaume de Tignonville, we have an unforgettable detective for the ages, a classic gumshoe for a cobblestoned era.

Blood Royal was fascinating to me.  As you might recall, I have a French lit and language degree, and I did a lot (A LOT!) of reading about French history when I was in school.  This specific subject though I don't recall learning much about.  I knew that Charles VI was crazy.  I knew that Louis d'Orlean, his brother, would rule for him when he had one of his spells.  I knew that around the same time England was waging war on France.  But all the details about Louis's murder and what was actually going on politically, I knew nothing about.

I had no idea that Louis's murder caused so much tension within France and its government, making it ridiculously easy for England to start attacking.  What was also fascinating to me was reading about the regular people of Paris who were witnesses to the murder.  You get a bit of insight into their lives when you read their depositions.  Also I so wish I was a medieval French language scholar, because it would be so much fun to read through the official investigation that Tignonville or one of his employees documented. 

It is so hard to grasp how different Paris was in the 15th century.  I mean, it was completely different (which I know it obviously was!!  but it's hard to picture in my mind, you know??).  I thought Jager did a wonderful job describing what life may have been like for the ordinary person back in the day.  What I really loved was that this wasn't just your average nonfiction book with some references at the end.  It was full on research with in text citations and everything (at least in my ebook version from Netgalley).  I found myself constantly going to the references pages to see what Jager used as sources.  Some of the subjects only touched in Blood Royal really interested me, and I plan on possibly tracking down some of the references for my own reading.

If you are interested in French history and want a detailed, well researched book, I definitely recommend this one.  Especially since, to me anyway, it focused on a topic I'd only heard a little bit about.  I hadn't realized until picking it up just how much I miss reading and learning about French history.

Title: Blood Royal
Author: Eric Jager
Date of Publication: February 25th
Number of Pages: 336
Genre: Nonfiction, French history
Source: Netgalley

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