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The Last Templar (A Medieval West Country Mystery) Paperback – 2 Nov 1995

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Headline; New Ed edition (2 Nov. 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747250618
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747250616
  • Product Dimensions: 17.9 x 11.1 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 219,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Who is this guy Jecks?

Michael was a moderate student and early on, being a callow youth, decided on a career as an actuary. This decision was based solely on the fact that he heard it was the highest paid profession. Well, he had a father who was one, and a brother, too, but the money certainly helped.
Not realizing that a standard definition of an actuary is "someone who finds accountancy too exciting", he achieved the relevant grades at A level and wandered off to City University, London. There, he excelled - as bar chairman - but not at actuarial studies. Firmly convinced that his course was incomprehensible (Life & Other Contingencies? Advanced Statistics? Programming in Pascal?) and other parts were designed by knaves, cretins and the criminally insane (Economics), he left the course after failing every exam for two years.

With the glittering example of a second, unqualified, brother who earned very good money, had a bonus scheme, free car, free petrol, expense account and free holiday each year, Michael decided to follow this brother into computer sales.
Joining one company selling "office automation" from the back of Gray's Inn Road (typewriters), he soon progressed to a company selling personal computers. Especially the ACT Sirius. He left and set up a division of PC sales for City of London Computer Services, only to lose his job when a second partner, who didn't believe PCs would take off, returned from a long holiday.
Following that, Michael went to a new start-up to help form Electronic Office Services. When that firm collapsed (with one director disappearing, apparently to the Bahamas with all the company's money), Michael was left without a job.
He saw an advert for an interview with a company called Wordplex, and went to see the company at an open day in a London hotel. After a lengthy interview process, which involved five formal meetings, he was accepted.
Later he heard he had been taken on because he was "the only twenty-one year old I've ever seen turn up to a job interview smoking a pipe, you berk" - (Dick Houghton, Regional Director, Wordplex, 1981).
For the next four years, Michael sold Wordplex systems as one of a hundred salesmen in the UK. He was consistently one of the top salespeople in the country, and as a result was headhunted to join Wang Laboratories in 1985.
Wang was a challenging company. All salespeople who did not achieve their monthly targets at least once in every three months were summarily dismissed. Michael survived until 1990, when Wang collapsed, and Michael took a job with Rank Xerox. This interesting job involved selling equipment that was roughly eight years out of date. There he lasted six months before being asked to join NBI, a Colorado-based firm created by ingesters of certain illegal substances, who (out of respect for the success of IBM, ICL, NCR and ACT) named their business: Nothing But Initials.
The company closed their international operations three months after Michael joined them.
At a loose end once more, Michael looked to a job with a more secure future. Thus it was that he entered the leasing business. At the time no leasing salesman could earn less than £100,000 per annum. Michael joined a new firm called Celsius Computer Services, and in the first three months sold £1.25 million of business. Then Atlantic Leasing crashed and the entire market fell with it. Michael was unemployed without redundancy - again.
Moving to safer shores with software sales, Michael joined IBM's largest software supplier, Bluebird. They went bust a year later (owing him a lot).

Out of Computing, Into Writing
It was a while later, after 13 jobs in 13 years, that Michael finally took the hint. He found himself at the beginning of 1994 once more without a job, and so he sat down to decide on a new course. He had no qualifications, but he knew he loved reading. With that conviction, he began to write, becoming a full-time homeworker while his wife went to work and supported their (exorbitant) mortgage.
Those were interesting times.
In three months, Michael worked seven days a week, fourteen hours a day. In that time he wrote a modern day thriller, a management book on how to get work when made redundant (he had experience of that) and a historical crime novel that was to become The Last Templar.
The thriller was snapped up by Bantam over the phone - and rejected two days later in writing because it was all about the IRA, and they had just agreed their first ceasefire. The second book was rejected by his agent because her husband had recently left her for an IBM Systems Engineer. She wanted nothing to do with books about computers or computer people, and if Michael's book could help them find contentment and employment, she was content to see it burned.

Since 1995 and the launch of The Last Templar, Michael has been a persistent and prolific author. City of Fiends was the 31st story in the series that follows the lives of Sir Baldwin de Furnshill, a renegade Templar, and his friend Bailiff Simon Puttock through the miserable period of famine, war and disease that was the first half of the fourteenth century.
The series is the first to tell the tale of that time.
It charts the incompetent reign of King Edward II, the appalling avarice and criminality of his chief advisers, Sir Hugh le Despenser and (sadly) Bishop Walter II of Exeter; then the war against France and the desertion of Edward by his wife Isabella, and her return with a small army to remove him from the throne.
However it is not merely a crime series. The whole of the Kingdom was changing: after fifty years the language of authority stopped being French and became English; the feudal system was broken; farming was becoming efficient and organised; new towns were springing up - and the king was losing control of law-making and even war-making. It was probably the period in which England changed the most, apart from perhaps the fifty years post World War II.

Over the years, the series has sold well in the UK and America, with translations into Dutch, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Italian, and many other countries.
In America it has been taken on by many schools as a means of imparting accurate social history. It has revived interest in Edward II's reign, and has made Michael friends all across the globe.
With the publication of Templar's Acre in 2013, which was a prequel to the series, Michael felt it was time to take a break. As a result, he wrote ACT OF VENGEANCE, a modern day spy thriller, which received the comment from Lee Child who said it was "An instant classic British spy novel - mature, thoughtful, and intelligent ... but also raw enough for our modern times.  Highly recommended."

Michael has made many friends with authors in the medieval period. He founded Medieval Murderers as a performance group, and soon had the idea that the group should write a collaborative novel. This collection of linked novellas was published as Tainted Relic by Simon & Schuster. DEADLIEST SIN is the tenth anniversary edition, published in 2014
As well as the Templar Series and Medieval Murderers, Michael has compiled ebook collections of his short stories. FOR THE LOVE OF OLD BONES and NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM have all the short stories previously published in collections from Maxim Jakubowski, Mike Ashley and the Crime Writers' Association.
Michael is now writing a thrilling trilogy based on the lives of a vintaine (platoon) of archers during the early years of the Hundred Years War. FIELDS OF GLORY, the first, was published in 2014.

Michael has long had an interest in helping new writers, and for two years he organised the Debut Dagger for the Crime Writers' Association, helping five authors win their first publishing contracts as a result.
In 2004 he was elected as Chairman of the CWA, and afterwards he accepted a post as judge on the CWA/Ian Fleming Steel Dagger award, on which he served for three years. More recently he has been working with the International Thriller Writers and in 2011 he helped create the Historical Writer's Association, and remains on the organising committee.
In 2007 Michael was proud to be asked to collaborate with Conway Stewart to produce the Michael Jecks fountain pen. Other honours include being invited as the International Guest of Honour at the Bloody Words gala 2014, to being the Grand Master of the first parade of the 2014 Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Michael is a regular speaker about the Knights Templar, the end of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, about writing and publishing, and about finding work. He is also keen to help those who are now going through the latest recession. He endured enough hardship, and lost all his savings, during the last recession, and understands what it means to risk losing everything.

An enthusiastic photographer and watercolourist, Michael can often be seen walking across Dartmoor where he lives, gaining inspiration into the lives of our ancestors for his stories. When relaxing he can usually be found clad in white in a pub near you before dancing mad stick Morris.

For more on Michael Jecks, check out writerlywitterings.com, look him up at writerlywitterings on YouTube, check his pictures on Flickr.com/photos/Michael_Jecks, like his page on FaceBook, or check for him on Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and all other social media!

Product Description

Book Description

'The most wickedly plotted medieval mystery novels' The Times

About the Author

Michael Jecks gave up a career in the computer industry to concentrate on writing and the study of medieval history, especially that of Devon and Cornwall. He lives with his family in northern Dartmoor.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. L. J. Neale on 16 Jan. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This is the first book in a series, following the exploits of an ex Knight Templar and a Stannary Bailiff from Devon. A superb introduction to the history of the Medieval Age. Written with a simplicity that will belie the amount of knowledge and information imparted by the author Michael Jecks. With great sensitivity a particularly shameful act in history is brought to light in a straightforward way that enables the reader to understand the history as well as be entertained by the story. An ability to impart knowledge and teach whilst entertaining is rare. Stick with the story as it on occasion rambles a little, you will be rewarded, a twist and surprise will raise a few eyebrows. The detail is superb and can be verified with the help of the author himself, providing details of some of the books used for his research. This as I mentioned is the first in a series and as will all things in life, the stories improve and get better with time. I was gripped from the beginning and I'm still going, dive in you won't regret!
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By J. Chippindale TOP 500 REVIEWER on 21 Aug. 2006
Format: Paperback
For those who have not read Michael Jecks, but like historical novels, particularly about medieval England, you are in for all real treat. I have read some of the other comments from reviewers and I am not sure what they are getting at. Mr. Jecks writes a good entertaining tale. I am sure he did not set out to write a classic, just a book that is a good read with a good plot.

In actual fact his books are very well researched and it would be churlish to criticise what was in fact his first novel when he was trying to put flesh on the bones of his leading characters and hone his writing style. This books is the start of the extremely popular Knights Templar Mysteries.

1314 and an ill-advised Pope and also the King of France are doing everything in their power to destroy the powerful Knights Templars, sacking their headquarters in Paris and burning the leading officials of the movement for heresy.

Sir Baldwin de Furnshill, a Templar, escapes and makes his way across the channel. His brother in England has died and the estate now belongs to Simon. He is careful to keep his past history secret but he has watched some of his friends die for no reason other than the whim of a Pope and he is determined to do anything and everything in his power to reap vengeance on their accusers.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Dodster TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 10 July 2013
Format: Paperback
I like medieval murder mysteries. I'm a fan of the writings of Susanna Gregory, Bernard Knight and the 'Medieval murderers', where I first came across Michael Jeck's characters of Bailiff Simon Puttock and his Knight friend, Baldwin De Furnshill. Those stories encouraged me to go back to the beginning and read the full novel of how the two came together. Having read the Last Templar, I am very impressed. The characters are very well written and the story line is steeped in Medieval history. The book description at the top of the page gives a general introduction, but the writing draws you into the period and you can identify with the people of the time, their lives and hardships, with the posse as they track the bandits, feeling the tension and nervousness as they mount their attack. Great writing.
I recommend this to fans of the Medieval period and those maybe not yet familiar with it. Already got the Merchant's partner, number two in the series, with many more books to follow, I think I'm going to have many hours of enjoyable reading to come.
The Last Templar (Knights Templar Mysteries 01)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Spymaster General on 16 July 2011
Format: Paperback
This is the first in a series of excellent in-depth novels which evoke the loneliness of the West Country in Medieval times. The harshness of the conditions, yet the wonder of a world but half-understood by people who lived their short lives out in constant fear, is alleviated by the warmth of the friendship with matures between Bailiff Simon Puttock and Sir Baldwin de Furnshill. Well-researched, cleverly plotted, the pace is good and the characters believable. I thoroughly recommend any of these books - I have 12-14 from this series.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 7 Aug. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm re-reading this series. By page 2 or 3 I realised afresh why I fell in love with these books. I found them by accident and have just kept going. Love all things medieval and my beloved Dartmoor hasn't changed much in the last few hundred years so these are spot on for me. The scenery can so easily be imagined and the characters also. The first book in the series does a wonderful job of setting the characters firmly in place in their dartmoor homes, occupations and with a past, but also in the readers life too. They have thing I like and also don't agree with so they are quite real! Fully recommended!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dodster TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 10 July 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I like medieval murder mysteries. I'm a fan of the writings of Susanna Gregory, Bernard Knight and the 'Medieval murderers', where I first came across Michael Jeck's characters of Bailiff Simon Puttock and his Knight friend, Baldwin De Furnshill. Those stories encouraged me to go back to the beginning and read the full novel of how the two came together. Having read the Last Templar, I am very impressed. The characters are very well written and the story line is steeped in Medieval history. The book description at the top of the page gives a general introduction, but the writing draws you into the period and you can identify with the people of the time, their lives and hardships, with the posse as they track the bandits, feeling the tension and nervousness as they mount their attack. Great writing.
I recommend this to fans of the Medieval period and those maybe not yet familiar with it. Already got the Merchant's partner, number two in the series, with many more books to follow, I think I'm going to have many hours of enjoyable reading to come.
The Last Templar (Knights Templar Mysteries 01)
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