on 22 December 2001
Behind the chivalry and pageant of the tournament lie financial double-dealings, crooked contractors and personal grudges. Jecks' regular characters investigate a series of murders in a world of sport which has it's similarities to football or even the F1 circuit, with it's stars and underdogs! If you thought you had a vague idea about tournaments, read this and think again .....
First Sentence: Benjamin Dudenay, known to most people as "Ben the moneylender", was not popular, so his murder caused no distress except to his three outstanding creditors, whose demands for compensation where stolidly rejected by his widow, Maud.
Lord Hugh de Courtenay is hosting a tournament and Bailiff Simon Puttock has been tasked with organizing it. He is there at Oakhampton with his wife, Margaret, new baby, and rebellious daughter, Edith. Simon's friend, Sir Baldwin Furnshill, is also in attendance. They have more than the tournament to occupy them.
First there is the murder of Benjamin Dudenay, money-lender to many of the participants. Shortly thereafter, Wymond, the carpenter preparing the grounds for the tournament, is murdered. When Simon is accused, his and Baldwin must find who is behind the killings.
Jecks is such a wonderfully visual, descriptive writer. His sense of time and place add so much to the reading of his books. I also appreciate that Jecks, rather than present the fairy-tale version of the middle ages, provides a very realistic view of the life and people of the time. While chivalry and honor may have been the aspiration for knights, the reality was a far cry from it.
This book was interesting as you knew the motive from the beginning, but not the identity of the killer. There were multiple threads and characters under threat for various reasons. An interesting element was dealing with homosexuality in that Baldwin, a knight, former Templar and widely traveled, was much more tolerant than his friend Simon.
There were a lot of characters in this story and it would have been confusing if not for the Cast of Characters in the beginning of the book. The primary characters of Simon and Baldwin are ones I very much enjoy, particularly the banter between them. Jecks has done an excellent job of giving life progression and growth to both characters through the series.
The plot was interesting, the dialogue always well done, and the ending unexpected but appropriate for the period. I often think of Christie when I finish a book by Jecks in that both end of with a lot of bodies.
My one critical point is that there seemed to be a fair amount of redundancy. I assume this was done to make a point, but it did become tiresome. This was another solid book in a very well-done series.
on 27 February 2015
Started getting into theses novels by Michael Jecks and they are quite intriquing, ionce you get to know how the writer works, originally, I thought they were labourious, but then found after I stuck with it, that they were very clever and masterful bit of writing. Using some facts of that period and especially certain methods used by all parties it became a very interesting reading. Now I look forward to the next novel to pick up and start to read, my only wish would have been to follow the flow of the characters from their early creation right through, but alas there is no listing putting them in age order of the characters. Nothing worse than reading a book, then move onto the next book only to find you have now gone back 20years or so, please can we have books that follow that order, it would make much more interesting reading.
on 10 February 2013
Michael Jecks has hit another winner out of the park. Having seen jousting on the Isle of Wight and thoroughly enjoyed it, I loved this book being set in a similar situation... a lot less blood on the IOW! Michael has brought something we've all seen on the TV to life, in startling colour and with extreme feeling. Highly recommended read for everyone.