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Pagan's Vows

Review

Pagan's Vows

Pagan cannot believe that he is actually agreeing to devote his life to God, to accept life in a monastery. This is a lifestyle that he despises, possibly fears, and also one that he fled from when he was a boy. Though Pagan is often rude, disrespectful, impatient and irreverent, he is also loyal, and it is this loyalty that has made him decide to follow his master, Lord Roland, into a new life in the Abbey of St. Martin. After his experiences in a monastery school as a child, Pagan never dreamed that he would find himself pursuing the life of a monk, but he cannot bear to be separated from his distraught and emotionally lost master.

Thus it is that Pagan has to subject himself to blind obedience, rules that he thinks are ludicrous, and a life full of discomfort and unpleasantness. Needless to say, Pagan is not a good fit for the monastic life and it is a struggle for him to keep his temper, to stay out of trouble, and to try to adjust. Pagan does try his best, for Roland's sake, but all his efforts seem to be for naught when he starts looking into a little mystery that is floating about the Abbey.

Pagan discovers that beneath the veneer of respectability, piety and humility lies a complex tangle made up of lies, deceit and greed. Pagan may not be the most honest person in the world, but this kind of dirty hypocrisy upsets him enough that he will not stop seeking out the truth even when his very life is threatened. It would seem that someone very high up in the monastic hierarchy guides the conspiracy, and Pagan needs to be wary of what he says and does.

One cannot help but have a strong feeling of pity for Pagan. Here is a young man who could never be a monk, but for the love of a friend, he will put himself through a great ordeal --- accepting punishments, bullying, strenuous work, isolation and much more --- all for the sake of someone else. It is shocking to discover how difficult monastic life could be and how appalling the conditions often were. Certainly Pagan's experience puts a new light on the religious life in the times of the Crusades.

Entertaining, moving, skillfully researched, shocking at times, and very gripping, this third book in the Pagan Chronicles series is sure to delight readers who enjoy historical fiction.

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Reviewed by Marya Jansen-Gruber on October 18, 2011

Pagan's Vows
by Catherine Jinks

  • Publication Date: August 3, 2004
  • Genres: Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick
  • ISBN-10: 0763620211
  • ISBN-13: 9780763620219