The Last Templar (Medieval West Country Series #1)

( 16 )

Overview

The Knights Templar

They had all joined taking three vows: poverty, chastity, and obedience…for they were monks: warrior monks, dedicated to theprotection of pilgrims in the Holy Land -- until stories spread by anavaricious king who wanted their wealth for his own destroyed the order.

There was one knight, however, who escaped the stake, vowing justiceas he watched his ...

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Overview

The Knights Templar

They had all joined taking three vows: poverty, chastity, and obedience…for they were monks: warrior monks, dedicated to theprotection of pilgrims in the Holy Land -- until stories spread by anavaricious king who wanted their wealth for his own destroyed the order.

There was one knight, however, who escaped the stake, vowing justiceas he watched his innocent brothers die.

In the Service of the Lord

Simon Puttock has not been bailiff of Lydford Castle long in this year of 1316, when he is called to a nearby village to examine a burned-out cottage and the dead body within. But it is the newly arrived knight, Sir Baldwin Furnshill, who discerns the deceased was no victim of a tragic mishap; he was, in fact, murdered prior to the blaze. Simon would be well-served by accepting further assistance from this astute, though haunted and secretive stranger. For a second fatal burning indicates that some harsh evil has invaded this once-peaceful place, and its hunger has yet to be sated.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
If you're looking for dramatic historical adventure, don't miss British author Michael Jecks's powerful The Last Templar. This opener to the Templar Mystery series, a potent mix of history and mystery, begins with the destruction of the Templar order -- a devastating political and religious betrayal that reaches far beyond the falsely accused Templars themselves. Templar knight Sir Baldwin Furnshill barely escapes, vowing vengeance for his wronged brothers-in-arms. Returning home to Devon, he accepts new responsibilities as a local landowner, working with the newly minted bailiff of Lydford Castle, Simon Puttock, to investigate crimes in their district -- cases of arson, murder, extortion, and revenge. Sue Stone
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060763442
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/28/2004
  • Series: Medieval West Country Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 699,125
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Jecks gave up a career in the computer industry when he began writing the internationally successful Templar series. There are now twenty books starring Sir Baldwin Furnshill and Bailiff Simon Puttock, with more to follow. The series has been translated into all the major European languages and sells worldwide. The Chairman of the Crime Writers' Association for the year 2004–2005, Michael is a keen supporter of new writing and has helped many new authors through the Debut Dagger Award. He is a founding member of Medieval Murderers, and regularly talks on medieval matters as well as writing.

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Read an Excerpt

The Last Templar

A Knights Templar Mystery
By Jecks, Michael

Avon Books

ISBN: 0060763442

Chapter One

Simon Puttock felt elated, but not without a certain trepidation, as he meandered along the road that led from Tiverton to Crediton, letting his horse take him at a slow walk as he thought about his new position.

He had worked for the de Courtenays for many years now, as had his father before him, and he supposed that he should have expected a promotion -- but he had not. It had been completely unexpected, a sudden shock; if they had told him he was to be imprisoned for robbery, it could not have surprised him more. Naturally he hoped that his lords were satisfied with his work over the years, but he had never dreamed of being given his own castle to command, especially one so important as Lydford, and every now and again a quick smile cracked the serious expression on his face as his glee momentarily flared, quenching his nervous contemplation.

The de Courtenays, the lords of Devon and Cornwall, had been able to rely on Simon's family for decades. Peter, his father, had been the seneschal of their castle at Oakhampton for twenty years before his death two years ago, carefully looking after their es-tates and keeping the peace during the long, regular absences when the de Courtenay family went to visit their lands farther north. Before that, Peter's father had been the family's chamberlain and had fought loyally with his lord in thetroubled times before King Edward came to the throne. Simon was immensely proud of his forebears' association with, and honorable service to, this ancient family.

But even after so long in the de Courtenay family's service, the honor of being given the castle of Lydford to look after was still an unexpected delight -- and a fearsome opportunity. If his tenure was successful and the land was profitable, he could expect to become wealthy, a man of power and influence in his own right. Of course, as the bailiff of the castle, he was also held responsible for any failures: for lower tax revenues, for reduced productivity from the demesne lands -- for anything. Now, on his way home to his wife, he was gathering his thoughts, framing the best way of putting to her the possibilities and options that the role presented. Being a realist, he not only felt pride at the recognition he had been offered; he was also aware of the awesome immensity of the job that he had been given.

Ever since the Scots had defeated the English army at Bannockburn two years before, matters had got progressively worse, he knew. It was not just the continual attacks on the northern shires by the Scots or their invasion of Ireland, it sometimes appeared that God himself was angry with the whole of Europe and was punishing it. For two years now the whole country had been blighted, suffering under the worst rainstorms ever known. Last year, thirteen hundred and fifteen, had not been so bad down here in the far west; his peo-ple had hardly noticed any lack of essentials. Now, though, in the late autumn of thirteen sixteen, the rain had again been constant, and it had ruined the harvest for a second year. In other counties the people had been reduced to eating their horses and dogs in the vain search for sustenance, although it was not quite so bad yet here in Devon. It did mean that there would be a lot to plan for, though, and in his new job as the bailiff of Lydford castle, Simon intended to do all he could to help the people he was responsible for.

Lost in his thoughts, he had a deep frown on his face as he rode. He was a tall and muscular man with a body honed from riding and hunting, in his prime at nearly thirty years old. His hair was thick and a uniform dark brown, with no gray or white hairs to mar the youthful looks that hid his age so well. His complexion was ruddy from the days regularly spent in the open air and the saddle. Fortunately his daily exercise had so far prevented the build-up of fat that he remembered so well hanging under his father's chin as heavy jowls, making him look so much like one of his mastiffs, but he could still feel the early onset of thickening around his waist from the heavy beer that his household was so proud of.

From his sun- and wind-burned face his dark gray eyes looked out with a calm confidence. He was fortunate to have grown up near Crediton, and to have been taught how to read and write by his father's friends in the church -- a fact that would surely make him unique among the other bailiffs in the district -- and he was confident that he was fully capable of the responsibilities that had been given to him.

Looking up at the sky he could see it was already starting to darken as the sun slowly sank over to the west, and he threw a glance back at his servant, who plodded along behind on his old carthorse. "Hugh," he called, resting his hand on the rump of his horse as he twisted in his saddle to face backward, "I think we'll stop off at Bickleigh for the night, if they'll let us. It'll be dark long before we get home to Sandford."

His servant, a lean, morose, dark-haired man with the narrow, sharp features of a ferret, glared back. His demeanor was that of a prisoner being taken to the gallows who had been asked about the weather -- angry at the interruption of his thoughts and suspicious of the reasons for the comment.

Satisfied that the remark was made with no malicious intent, he grunted his assent as he lolled in his saddle. He had no desire to ride any farther tonight, and Bickleigh was known to have a good stock of wine and beer -- it would be a fine place to rest as far as he was concerned ... Continues...


Excerpted from The Last Templar by Jecks, Michael Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

The Last Templar
A Knights Templar Mystery

Chapter One

Simon Puttock felt elated, but not without a certain trepidation, as he meandered along the road that led from Tiverton to Crediton, letting his horse take him at a slow walk as he thought about his new position.

He had worked for the de Courtenays for many years now, as had his father before him, and he supposed that he should have expected a promotion -- but he had not. It had been completely unexpected, a sudden shock; if they had told him he was to be imprisoned for robbery, it could not have surprised him more. Naturally he hoped that his lords were satisfied with his work over the years, but he had never dreamed of being given his own castle to command, especially one so important as Lydford, and every now and again a quick smile cracked the serious expression on his face as his glee momentarily flared, quenching his nervous contemplation.

The de Courtenays, the lords of Devon and Cornwall, had been able to rely on Simon's family for decades. Peter, his father, had been the seneschal of their castle at Oakhampton for twenty years before his death two years ago, carefully looking after their es-tates and keeping the peace during the long, regular absences when the de Courtenay family went to visit their lands farther north. Before that, Peter's father had been the family's chamberlain and had fought loyally with his lord in the troubled times before King Edward came to the throne. Simon was immensely proud of his forebears' association with, and honorable service to, this ancient family.

But even after so long in the de Courtenay family's service, the honor of being given the castle of Lydford to look after was still an unexpected delight -- and a fearsome opportunity. If his tenure was successful and the land was profitable, he could expect to become wealthy, a man of power and influence in his own right. Of course, as the bailiff of the castle, he was also held responsible for any failures: for lower tax revenues, for reduced productivity from the demesne lands -- for anything. Now, on his way home to his wife, he was gathering his thoughts, framing the best way of putting to her the possibilities and options that the role presented. Being a realist, he not only felt pride at the recognition he had been offered; he was also aware of the awesome immensity of the job that he had been given.

Ever since the Scots had defeated the English army at Bannockburn two years before, matters had got progressively worse, he knew. It was not just the continual attacks on the northern shires by the Scots or their invasion of Ireland, it sometimes appeared that God himself was angry with the whole of Europe and was punishing it. For two years now the whole country had been blighted, suffering under the worst rainstorms ever known. Last year, thirteen hundred and fifteen, had not been so bad down here in the far west; his peo-ple had hardly noticed any lack of essentials. Now, though, in the late autumn of thirteen sixteen, the rain had again been constant, and it had ruined the harvest for a second year. In other counties the people had been reduced to eating their horses and dogs in the vain search for sustenance, although it was not quite so bad yet here in Devon. It did mean that there would be a lot to plan for, though, and in his new job as the bailiff of Lydford castle, Simon intended to do all he could to help the people he was responsible for.

Lost in his thoughts, he had a deep frown on his face as he rode. He was a tall and muscular man with a body honed from riding and hunting, in his prime at nearly thirty years old. His hair was thick and a uniform dark brown, with no gray or white hairs to mar the youthful looks that hid his age so well. His complexion was ruddy from the days regularly spent in the open air and the saddle. Fortunately his daily exercise had so far prevented the build-up of fat that he remembered so well hanging under his father's chin as heavy jowls, making him look so much like one of his mastiffs, but he could still feel the early onset of thickening around his waist from the heavy beer that his household was so proud of.

From his sun- and wind-burned face his dark gray eyes looked out with a calm confidence. He was fortunate to have grown up near Crediton, and to have been taught how to read and write by his father's friends in the church -- a fact that would surely make him unique among the other bailiffs in the district -- and he was confident that he was fully capable of the responsibilities that had been given to him.

Looking up at the sky he could see it was already starting to darken as the sun slowly sank over to the west, and he threw a glance back at his servant, who plodded along behind on his old carthorse. "Hugh," he called, resting his hand on the rump of his horse as he twisted in his saddle to face backward, "I think we'll stop off at Bickleigh for the night, if they'll let us. It'll be dark long before we get home to Sandford."

His servant, a lean, morose, dark-haired man with the narrow, sharp features of a ferret, glared back. His demeanor was that of a prisoner being taken to the gallows who had been asked about the weather -- angry at the interruption of his thoughts and suspicious of the reasons for the comment.

Satisfied that the remark was made with no malicious intent, he grunted his assent as he lolled in his saddle. He had no desire to ride any farther tonight, and Bickleigh was known to have a good stock of wine and beer -- it would be a fine place to rest as far as he was concerned ...

The Last Templar
A Knights Templar Mystery
. Copyright © by Michael Jecks. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Interviews & Essays

Ransom Notes Interview with Michael Jecks

Michael Jecks: Being paid to sit in my office and dream up new stories is the nearest to heaven that I can imagine, especially since it means I can indulge my fascination with medieval history and that I can go for long walks over Dartmoor, claiming that it's essential for my research. As a novelist, I want horrible times for my characters. They need to suffer. And the 1300s were dreadful. The Moors had evicted Europeans from the Holy Land. Many believed that meant God had turned from them and that the end of the world was near. Those fears soon seemed to be confirmed: There was a great famine, civil wars, and the Plague -- all within 40 years.

In the midst of that, I introduce Sir Baldwin Furnshill, a man devastated by the knowledge that all his comrades, men whom he trusted or revered, had been unjustly accused of crimes and tortured and executed with the sanction of the Church. That great injustice instills in him a fierce determination to protect the innocent.

Ransom Notes: What is it about the West Country setting that most appeals to you?

MJ: For me, the landscape is crucial to my stories. I believe men are formed by the land even as they change it through mining or farming. Dartmoor has a vast history, and the moors have changed little in the last few hundred years. Once you leave the roads there, you can soon lose yourself in the past…and ghosts walk with you wherever you go. There are Stone Age graves, marshes, and bogs in which wild horses and cattle still sometimes drown, and every so often medieval stone crosses: some celebrating deaths, others marking safe paths. And the legends live on. There are tales of murder and mayhem covering almost all the moors, as well as the ghosts. In fact, many of my stories are based upon local tales.

RN: What do you find most interesting about writing about crimes in a medieval setting?

MJ: The range and variety of means of death in this period is fascinating to me. But when it comes to murder itself, there is nothing really new about humans, nor about our ability to commit the most hideous of crimes for the most transparent motives. Often, readers ask why I portray vicious crimes, as though they believe that the medieval era was one of calm tranquility, and we have a monopoly on violent crime today. Sadly, the reality is that the potential for violent acts is not restricted by the lack of a Glock or MI6. In an age when all were happy to slaughter animals for the pot, there was a more relaxed attitude towards ending human lives as well.

RN: Would you like to hear from readers?

MJ: I am always very keen to hear from readers. Anyone can write to me through the link from my web site at www.michaeljecks.co.uk.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 16 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 17 of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 27, 2010

    Jecks Just Gets Better with Each New Title

    I should note that it was circa 2006 that I became aware of Jecks' Templar (Medieval West Country) series. His historical research, enhanced by his visits to locations, is excellent. It is not superficial. He then entwines a fictional mystery within the historical context involving historical figures along with his fictional characters. I was so taken by what I first read that I eventually obtained all of the previous titles in the series which was published by Headline (UK) until recently. His new publisher is Simon & Schuster UK, but the earlier titles will continue in reprint due to their popularity. I should note that the "bio" information has "20 titles" in the series, but that is now an even more amazing 30 while he continues to write. You might ask how he can keep a series going. Well, Jecks is a well above par author who is very much dedicated to his research and writing. He keeps the history "spot on" and has the talent of weaving a compelling tale every time. I won't say he's perfect, but I would consider him to be no less than in the top 5% of historical murder mystery authors today. You get your moneys worth with his titles and you tend to save them rather than sell them. Michael Jecks and Bernard Knight, I regard has excellent authors who give much of themselves to their writing with the reader in mind always. They don't short change you to meet a deadline. I mention Knight as he and Jecks have collaborated with others in the "Murder Mystery" Series e.g. King Arthur's Bones. I had someone who happens to be an academic editor read one of the title from the latter series without knowing who the five contributing authors were. The editor identified both Jecks and Knight by the quality of their writing. The other authors are well known, but the editor could tell what portions Jecks and Knight wrote and found their contributions the most enjoyable to read. I would recommend both Jecks, as well as Bernard Knight, titles for reading if you like a good story along with historical accuracy. You might want to look at their websites. Jecks has a great website that includes photos of locations that you read about in the books plus the availability of a newsletter that is enjoyable. He also can be found on Facebook where he has many fans from around the globe. BTW, I like to think that I am discerning in my choice of authors whether it be professional (various groups under that category), history, theology, etc. as well as fiction. With Jecks and Knight, I don't find the quantity of errors I might find with others as well as most enjoyable reading.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2006

    Great concept poorly written

    Conceptually, this is a great story. Unfortunately, the author's writing is so sophomoric that it is distracting. Run-on senetences abound (e.g. 'He had not even been able to get time to go for a ride, and at last, on the thrid day after the announcement had become public knowledge, the day he was to ignore all visitors and stay home with Edith, he saddled his horse early, before she rose, and went out for a ride to loosen his taught muscles and get a brief spell of freedom before honoring his promise.' p.53), and grammatical errors pop up regularly. Redundant word use is also a problem (e.g.: 'Suddenly, before he could avoid it, a sudden gust of wind...') and some of the dialog is written as if in modern times, not the middle ages.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 17, 2010

    So Good I bought the entire series!

    Once I started reading this book I couldn't put it down!
    Sir Baldwin Furnshill & Bailiff Simon Puttock come to life as Holmes/Watson type of characters. If you enjoy the medieval period and mysteries this series is for you. Jecks makes all of the characters come to life whether a main character or just passing through the story briefly.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2009

    Very enjoyable

    I will eventually buy others in this series.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2009

    Last Templar by Michael Jecks

    Excellent book, well written and well researched. Can't wait to read the rest of the series.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2006

    Solid, Interesting

    Not quite on par with Bernard Cornwell, but a very engrossing, well-thought out piece of historical fiction.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 15, 2011

    Nook version missing last page

    It's missing at least the last page. Pretty dull book. Commenter who wrote that the author's style is stilted is right. The way he uses character names is confusing and makes me wonder where his editor was. I won't buy other books in the series.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted July 29, 2011

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    Posted January 15, 2010

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    Posted January 15, 2010

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    Posted December 31, 2011

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    Posted November 7, 2010

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    Posted January 26, 2010

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