Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pagan's Crusade
Catherine Jinks
1992, Omnibus Books (Australia)
2003, Candlewick Press (U.S.)

They've come at last, after all this time. The Infidels. Practically on the doorstep. And it's not a surprise. That's what's so awful. Everyone born here - we all knew they would come. Everyone born here is born waiting.

In 1187, Pagan Kidrouk is a Jerusalem street urchin with a penchant for making unwelcome wisecracks to much, much larger men. He flees a lot of troublesome gambling debts by taking a job inside the highly secured walls of the headquarters of the Templar knights, where a reluctant but understaffed Order makes him a squire. The orphan and former monastery brat is not thrilled to be assigned to Lord Roland, possibly the most sincere and noble Templar knight in existence, and Lord Roland has his doubts about Pagan. But history overwhelms all their concerns when Saladin leads his forces to the very gates of the city.

From Tancred's Tower, you can see their flags quite clearly - flashes of color in the fitful gusts of wind. A hot, dry wind. Kicking up dust in their faces. Carrying snatches of sound across the city walls: the babble of voices, the clash of iron, the whinnying of horses and mules. Very quiet on this side. Everyone's watching. Like birds in a nest, watching a cat at the base of the tree.

Pagan's cheerful jokes and boundless energy are just right for his age and character; and Roland manages to be nearly saintly without being dull. The affection between the two is convincing, and the story balances neatly between convincing historic accuracy and an inaccurate but more appealing modern sensibility.

Other Books by Author
Jinks has written quite a few books in various categories, from children's to adults. The Pagan series includes:
Pagan In Exile (1994)
Pagan's Vows (1995)
Pagan's Scribe (1995)
Pagan's Daughter (2006) (published as Babylonne in the U.S. in 2008)

In Print?
Candlewick Press (U.S.)
Allen & Unwin (Australia)

Author's Website

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