Book Review: Blood Royal by Eric Jager

Posted March 20, 2014 by Kara in book review, Kara / 4 Comments

Book Review: Blood Royal by Eric JagerBlood Royal by Eric Jager
Published by Little Brown on February 25th, 2014
Genres: adult, historical, nonfiction, true crime
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

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.

I’m actually kind of shocked. I expected to like Blood Royal, but I didn’t expect to be as fascinated with it as I was. I don’t often read nonfiction, but when I do, I am VERY picky about my choices. True crime set in 15th-century Paris? Yes, please. And this book is exactly what the blurb says it is, but it is also so much more.

It’s a portrait of a city in turmoil. It’s a mystery, true, but it’s written in a narrative style that makes it seem like you are reading a brilliant historical fiction. Make no mistake, this is not a history textbook. It’s full of wonderful characterizations and moments in history that deserve a closer look. When I found out that this author was also a college professor, I wished I had been one of his students. If all history classes were this interesting, I would have a different career.

I realize that my reviews of books that are not young adult do not get as much attention, but if you do pay attention to one review that is not YA, it should be this one. Because I think this is one of those books that can be a genre crossing book for so many readers. Are you a fiction reader wanting to get into more nonfiction? You should read this. Do you only read nonfiction and think you wont like fiction? Read this to get a feel for the style. It has this brilliant narrative that I had a difficult time setting aside to do other things.

The only time the book lost me was towards the end, when it became less about solving the murder and more about the aftermath of what solving it caused. It probably won’t be an issue for other readers though, but I just felt like the book lost some of its spark and went more into summarizing and less into telling a story. As a result, this book gets a 4 star rating instead of a 5, but it was so, so close and I still highly recommend this to ANYONE who is fascinated with the history of Europe and its royals. Going into this I didn’t know much about French history, but now I feel almost like an expert. I always had a tough time retaining information in my history classes, but when it’s written like this, there is no issue. 

I have a feeling my journey into times past is only just beginning. I will be on the lookout for more books like this in the future. It’s funny to me that nearly all of the characters were horrible people, and yet this still managed to fascinate me. It just goes to show that a brilliant narrative and writing style can keep a reader’s interest if it’s done well, regardless of what the characters are like. Louis of Orleans was an AWFUL person, as was John of Burgundy. And yet, learning about them was a memorable experience.


4 responses to “Book Review: Blood Royal by Eric Jager

  1. I will never forget a comment a teacher made to my parents at a parents night at school, something about how it was great that I was such a bookworm, but that I should read more non-fic. And I tried to do that but these days all I read is fiction! So, I’m with you on trying to read more non-fic.

    Also, I often find that horrible characters are more interesting to read about, even if I dislike them!

    • Yeah, true! I don’t mind reading about unlikable characters in certain genres. History is one of them because it’s a true story, you know? And most people are really nasty anyway. 😀

  2. This sounds fascinating, I studied a lot of French history in college but this time period was slightly too early so we didn’t go into it much as we focused more on Ireland and Britain during this time but I love learning about the Medieval era so this sounds perfect. Sticking it on my TBR

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