PAGAN’S CRUSADE by Catherine Jinks
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 12 - 15
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First of a quartet originally published in Australia, this orphan’s-eye view not only brings the overripe streets of 12th-century Jerusalem to eye-watering life, but introduces a character as lovable, stubbornly loyal, and smart-mouthed as any Disney film sidekick. On the lam after an ill-considered wager, young Pagan Kidrouk signs up as a squire with the Knights Templar, an organization charged with both defending the Holy Land from the infidel, and pilgrims from brigands. Assigned to Lord Roland Roucy de Bram, a devout, deeply principled knight he quickly dubs “Saint George,” Pagan soon finds himself escorting hilariously modern-sounding tourists on a day trip to the Jordan River, while casting aspersions on his colleagues—“The charm of a dead cow. The wit of a swamp.” Meanwhile, tensions mount as Saladin’s armies approach. Ever-noble, Lord Roland prepares for death; this mulish stance forces Pagan (who beneath his trash-talking exterior has grown to love and respect his master) into a desperate but successful ploy that puts them on the road to Tyre and, perhaps, France. Rich, vivid storytelling, with a sturdy base in historical events, and undercurrents both comic and serious. (maps) (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-7636-2019-X
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Candlewick
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2003


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