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Pagan's Crusade

Review

Pagan's Crusade

Pagan Kidrouk looks like a street urchin when he first arrives at the doors of the Order of the Temple in the great city of Jerusalem. Just sixteen years old, Pagan has had a very checkered life, one full of hardship, cruelty and vice. He has little reason to trust people, find goodness in them, or even grow attached to them. Jerusalem in 1187 is a city of holy places on the one hand and a city of beggars, thieves, corruption and poverty on the other. Pagan finds himself in the employ of the almost saint-like Templar knight Lord Roland Roucy de Bram. Pagan calls his new master "Saint George," as he finds it difficult to accustom himself to the pure and honorable ways of the knight. Pagan himself views the world in a very different light, seeing only the grime, the misery and the corruption.

As Lord Roland's squire, Pagan must accompany him when the knight escorts a group of pilgrims from Jerusalem to the River Jordan and back. These were difficult times, when infidels often attacked pilgrims, and the Templar knights were needed to protect the pilgrims as they traveled through the Holy Land. No sooner are Lord Roland and Pagan back in Jerusalem when terrible news arrives. The greatest infidel of them all, Saladin, has crossed the River Jordan and taken one of the cities. It is not long before Saladin is at the very walls of Jerusalem itself, and Lord Roland finds himself leading the Templar knights and playing a large role in the future of the great city. It is at this time that Pagan learns he is capable of new emotions; he discovers that he can feel pity and care for someone else.

Written from Pagan's point of view and in his own voice, complete with his sarcasm and disdain for those around him, PAGAN'S CRUSADE is an extraordinary book. We can laugh, be shocked and feel pity all at the same time. Catherine Jinks shows us, through Pagan's eyes, how harsh life was during the time of the Crusades and how distorted each side's view was of the other. It is only when they are face to face that they see and hear that they are in fact not much different from one another; we too learn that infidels and Christians were very much alike. When Jerusalem was taken from the Muslims, terrible crimes against its people were committed by the Christians. Now, in turn, Saladin's soldiers are having their revenge. Except, when they get to Jerusalem, Saladin shows the world that he can be generous.

As we close this first book in a planned series of four, we wonder what Pagan and his master will do next, and are left to ponder what people have done in the name of religion.

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Reviewed by Marya Jansen-Gruber on October 18, 2011

Pagan's Crusade
by Catherine Jinks

  • Publication Date: September 15, 2003
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick
  • ISBN-10: 076362019X
  • ISBN-13: 9780763620196