Cover image for Pagan's crusade
Pagan's crusade
Jinks, Catherine.
Personal Author:
First Candlewick Press edition.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2003.

Physical Description:
246 pages : maps, ; 20 cm
In twelfth-century Jerusalem, orphaned sixteen-year-old Pagan is assigned to work for Lord Roland, a Templar knight, as Saladin's armies close in on the Holy City.
Reading Level:
560 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 3.7 6.0 33538.

Reading Counts RC High School 4.7 12 Quiz: 36546 Guided reading level: S.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Catherine Jinks spins a colorful tale loaded with action, down-and-dirty details of medieval life, and a healthy helping of sarcasm sure to appeal to teen readers - especially boys.

Down on his luck and kicked in the pants one too many times, sixteen-year-old Pagan Kidrouk arrives on the doorstep of the Templar Knights in medieval Jerusalem, looking for work as a squire. He's expecting only some protection from the seedier aspects of life on the street and a few square meals. Instead, Pagan finds himself hard at work for Lord Roland de Bram - an exciting life of polishing Lord Roland's armor, laundering his garments, and even training to fight by his side.

But as the Infidel Saladin leads his army to Jerusalem, it becomes more and more difficult for Pagan and Lord Roland to discern what action to take or whom to trust. Neither Saladin's army nor the Christian Crusaders offer easy answers. Is a bloody battle for control of the Holy City inevitable?

Author Notes

Catherine Jinks was born November 17, 1963 in Brisbane, Queensland. She received a degree in medieval history from the University of Sydney in 1986. After college, she worked as a journalist and editor before becoming a full-time writer. She has written more than 30 books for both children and adults including Pagan's Vows, Eye to Eye, Piggy in the Middle, The Reformed Vampire Support Group, and The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group. She is also the author of the Pagan Chronicles and Allie's Ghost Hunters series. She has won numerous awards including the Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award three times, the Victorian Premier's Literary Award, the Aurealis Award for Science Fiction, the Australian Ibby Award, and the Davitt Award for Crime Fiction.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Australian author Jinks's alternately hilarious, often poignant novel, the first of four planned, turns medieval history into fodder for both high comedy and allegory. In the spirit of Monty Python, she gives narrator Pagan Kidrouk a contemporary mindset through which readers view the era's code of chivalry. Street-wise Pagan arrives at the gates of the Templar Knights in hopes of earning money to pay off gambling debts. He becomes the squire of the near-perfect Lord Roland during a pivotal time in Jerusalem's history: the Holy Land is under siege from the Egyptian sultan Saladin. Many scenes are hysterical, such as dim-witted pilgrims playing guessing games to pass the time on the road ("Which saint am I? My name begins with U " To the answer, Saint Eusebius, Pagan thinks, "Saint who?") or swapping tips about not-to-be-missed religious landmarks the way soccer moms trade vacation ideas. But the author handles serious moments just as confidently, when Pagan's sarcastic voice gives way to genuine introspection. There is real history and real drama in this setting, much of it bloody, but Jinks keeps the focus on Pagan and his unique perspective. This series may well become a cult favorite, and Pagan's catch phrase ("Christ in a cream cheese sauce!") might just catch on. Ages 13-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-An uneven attempt at blending history, adventure, and humor. Pagan, a streetwise teenager in muddy, medieval Jerusalem, tries to escape his criminal past by joining the Templar Knights. He becomes a squire to Lord Roland de Bram, a rigid, proper Knight, and together they uncover a plot to invade the Holy City. Rich with historical details, yet lacking in explanation of period or setting, the book fails to give readers the broader context of the events. Also, the ungainly first-person narration, much of it written in decapitated sentence fragments and parenthetical asides, will leave teens with the difficult tasks of empathizing with the narrator and attempting to understand the action. The character development is weak, leaving most of the players as mere caricatures. Pagan learns a lesson or two about responsibility while working with Roland and defending the city, but he doesn't really evolve beyond anachronistic, sarcastic remarks. His favorite phrase, "Christ in a cream cheese sauce," is funny once or twice, but loses something on the 20th reading. Readers who have moved beyond Jon Scieszka's "Time Warp Trio" series (Viking) may find something in the historical spoofing and sarcasm, but Leon Garfield's Smith (Farrar, 2000) is a better take on the clever, back-alley kid who gets in over his head. First in a proposed series.-Douglas P. Davey, Guelph Public Library, Ontario, Canada (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



CHAPTER ONE A big man in brown, sitting behind a table. Big hands. Big chest. Short and broad. Head like a rock, face scarred like a battle axe. He looks up and sees-what's this? A street urchin? Whatever it is, it's trouble. Trouble advances cautiously. "They said I should report to the Standard-Bearer." The big man nods. "You can call me sir," he says. (Voice like gravel rattling in a cast-iron pot.) He pulls out a quill pen. "Name?" he says. "Pagan." "Pagan what?" "Pagan Kidrouk." "Pagan Kidrouk, sir." (Hell in a handcart.) "Pagan Kidrouk, sir." Scratch, scratch. He writes very slowly. "Age?" "Sixteen. Sir." "Born in?" "Bethlehem." Rockhead looks up. The brain peeps out from behind the brawn. "Don't worry, sir. It didn't happen in a stable." Clunk. Another jest falls flat on the ground. "Rule number one, Kidrouk. In the Order of the Temple you speak only when you're spoken to." "Yes, sir." "Understand?" "Yes, sir." Rockhead smells rich and rare, like a well-matured piece of cheese. No baths for the Templars. Hot water is for girls and porridge and other soft, wet things. If a Templar wants a bath he can go and stand in the rain. That's what God put it there for. "And where did you come from, Kidrouk?" (The unspoken question: out of a slop bucket?) Rockhead is highly suspicious. You can see what he's thinking. Just look at this runt! Smells like the Infidel, and looks like a Bedouin boy. Skin the color of braised almonds. Built like a horsewhip. Black hair. Black eyes. What in the name of God is this Order coming to? We'll be recruiting stray dogs next. "I'm a local, sir. I served in the Jerusalem garrison." "On?" "The night watch. I patrolled the northern beat. Between the Postern of Lazarus and the Postern of Saint Magdalene." "You mean the Jewry quarter?" "That's the one. Sir." "And why did you leave?" "Well, sir . . . it was the jokes." Pause. Rockhead's brows roll together like gathering thunderclouds. But the storm doesn't break. "It was the what?" "It was the jokes, sir. In the guardroom. Not that I object to jokes as such. Some of my best friends are complete jokes. But I don't like leper jokes. Or dysentery jokes. Especially when I'm eating." Rockhead puts his pen down. Game's over. PAGAN'S CRUSADE by Catherine Jinks. Copyright (c) 2003 by Catherine Jinks. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA. Excerpted from Pagan's Crusade: Book One of the Pagan Chronicles by Catherine Jinks All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.