I got a familiar feeling when I read this, like I had read something like it before. So I looked up the writer’s name and sure enough, he wrote another, similar book about a crime involving French aristocracy.
Blood Royal was a good enough book but it focused less on the crime and more on the budding Civil War in France over the death of Louis X. It dragged the story down and while it was readable, it wasn’t necessarily good. This one avoids that mistake.
Eric Jager does as good of a job as one can in detailing the context for the infamous duel between Jean de Carrouges and Jacques Le Gris. That he makes said context so readable is the strength of the book. He provides just enough details to help the reader knew what was going on while keeping the narrative moving from character introduction to crime to trial to combat and the aftermath.
The result is an easily digested fascinating look at a now extinct slice of European history. Jager does do some broader shading here with the 30 Years War and the Crusades but the reader never looses focus of the simmering conflict between Carrouges and Le Gris, the bravery of Marguerite, and the details of the titular duel.
I keep hearing the movie is good. I had no interest in watching it but this made me curious. The tale is gripping and Jager does a good enough job bringing it to life to make it feel cinematic.