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Summary

“A taut page-turner with all the hallmarks of a good historical thriller.” (Orlando Sentinel)

The gripping true story of the “duel to end all duels” in medieval France that pits a knight against a squire accused of violating the knight’s beautiful young wife, soon to be a major motion picture with Ridley Scott directing stars Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Adam Driver, and Jodie Comer.

In the midst of the devastating Hundred Years’ War between France and England, Jean de Carrouges, a Norman knight, fresh from combat in Scotland finds his wife, Marguerite, accusing squire Jacques Le Gris of brutally raping her. A deadlocked court decrees a “trial by combat” that also leaves Marguerite’s fate in the balance. For if her husband loses the duel, she will be put to death as a false accuser. 

While enemy troops pillage the land, and rebellion and plague threaten the lives of all, Carrouges and Le Gris meet in full armor on a walled field in Paris. What follows is a fierce duel before a massive crowd that includes the teenage King Charles VI, during which both combatants are wounded - but only one fatally.

Based on extensive research in Normandy and Paris, The Last Duel brings to life a colorful, turbulent age and three unforgettable characters caught in a fatal triangle of crime, scandal, and revenge. The Last Duel is at once a moving human drama, a captivating detective story, and an engrossing work of historical intrigue with themes that echo powerfully centuries later.

©2004 Eric Jager (P)2020 Eric Jager

Critic reviews

"Jager spins a complicated and sanguinary tale with the skill of an accomplished thriller author.... Sex, savagery, and high-level political maneuvers energize a splendid piece of popular history.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Succeeds brilliantly in combining page-turning intensity with eye-opening insights into the bizarre ritual of judicial combat in the Middle Ages.” (The Times, London)

"Riveting.” (Publishers Weekly)

“As enthralling and engrossing as any...high-profile celebrity scandal today.” (Booklist)

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  • Lynn M. Belden
  • 30-07-21

Captivating story of medieval French justice

Epic true story of trial by combat. Set in the court of crazy King Charles VI of France before the delusions. Definitely looking forward to seeing the movie.

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  • ChadNAlaska
  • 25-07-21

More than I realized I wanted to know about Middle Ages Law

This is a well thought out and reasoned response to a popular myth as to why Trial By Combat was ended in Medieval France. Jager does an excellent job of painting a human picture of politics and society of Middle Ages Europe. And the central crime story is riveting. Great read (or listen).

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  • Eric
  • 22-07-21

Fantastic read!

Great book! The story picks up quickly and I had a hard time putting it down. Quick read. Can't wait for the movie now!

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  • Kristen
  • 16-07-21

So good

Like GoT? Listen to this! A account of the last trial by combat in France.

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  • Ryan
  • 03-06-21

What a story!

14th century France was fascinating and this story was absolutely awesome. Not sure if I am forward to seeing the movie adaptation or not, but the book was great.

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  • Gael Dalton
  • 20-02-21

History or Fiction, It’s a Story Well Told

This book combines the known history with a plausible dramatic story that’s very entertaining and thoroughly immersive. The author then follows up by disclosing a broad spectrum of perspectives on the core story, and some of the reasoning behind them. The result is that it makes me want to delve even deeper into the history, and that’s everything I look for in good historical fiction. I only wish I could find more like this.