Pagan in Exile

Written by Catherine Jinks
Review by Alycia Harris

The four young adult novels Pagan’s CrusadePagan in ExilePagan’s Vow and Pagan’s Scribe form the Pagan Chronicles. In book one, Pagan joins the Crusaders in Jerusalem and is introduced to Lord Roland de Bram. Lord Roland is about as different as can be from the rash and shrewd Pagan, but when Pagan becomes Lord Roland’s squire, a lifelong friendship is formed. In book two, Pagan and Lord Roland head for Lord Roland’s home in France, where they will encounter Lord Roland’s family and a world for which Pagan may not be prepared. In book three, Pagan and Lord Roland enter the monastery to begin a new life, a life most unsuited to Pagan. In book four, Pagan, now archdeacon, meets Isadore and invites Isadore to be his scribe. Isadore doesn’t know what to think of Pagan and his unusual looks and even more unusual demeanor.

The stories provide a delightful account of life in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, from Jerusalem to Europe. Jinks offers rich descriptions of everyday life as well as the multifaceted nature of Catholicism. Within the Church, the reader is exposed to the religious warrior, the monastic, the scholar, the politician, and more. No punches are pulled as the author describes the less-than-appetizing interior of a small French castle or the violent clashes between the Church and her enemies.

The narration is from a specific character’s point of view and often entails not just the character’s interactions with others, but the thoughts in his head. Not only does it contain historical information wrapped up in a fictional story, but the thoughts and feelings of the character bring the environment and events alive. These stories are exciting and well written enough to be enjoyed by anyone who wants to step back in time and feel, smell, and see that history.