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Pagan's Scribe: Book Four of the Pagan Chronicles Hardcover – February 3, 2005
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From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up–There have been few characters in recent historical fiction more vibrant than the street-smart, fast-talking protagonist of this series. In Pagan's Crusade (2003), Pagan in Exile(2004), and Pagan's Vows (2004, all Candlewick), orphaned Pagan joins the Knights Templar in a desperate attempt to escape the mean streets of Jerusalem and becomes squire to Lord Roland. He follows his master back to his home in southern France and joins him in a monastery when Roland renounces his crude family. In this fourth volume, a young, bookish clerk, Isidore, takes up the narrative. Pagan is 20 years older, now Archdeacon of Carcassonne, and enlists Isidore to serve as his scribe. Pagan's acerbic wit and sharp logic are needed by local lords to argue their case before a marauding army of frustrated Crusaders, turned against their own countrymen to search out heretics. Isidore's breathless description of the often-violent and chaotic world around him creates a page-turning epic. Readers who already know Pagan will be fascinated to see him as an adult, with the same fierce loyalty for his friends and caustic anger that he exhibited as a teen. He develops a protective fondness for Isidore, helping him cope with the epilepsy that is too little understood in medieval France. Pair this book with Kevin Crossley-Holland's King of the Middle March (2004) and Frances Temple's The Ramsay Scallop (1994, both Scholastic) for a multifaceted view of 13th-century Europe.–Connie C. Rockman, Stratford Library Association, CT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Gr. 9-12. Readers expecting the fourth and final book in the Pagan series to take up where Book 3 ended are in for a couple of surprises. Not only does the new volume take up the story 20 years after Pagan's Vows left off, it also has a new narrator-protagonist: Isidore, a 15-year-old boy plagued with seizures. He's a scribe for Pagan, who is now the Archdeacon of Carcassonne. The intervening years have increased Pagan's wisdom and authority, and he finds in Isidore a youth as impetuous and strong-willed as himself, but without his experience of the world. The narrative approach is similar to previous books, recording Isidore's thoughts as well as conversations and events; even the voice sounds familiar. When Isidore gains the friendship and protection of Pagan's beloved mentor, Lord Roland, at the terrible siege of Carcassonne, the story comes full circle. Though many writers present the pageantry of the Middle Ages, Jinks portrays the period with great realism, here dramatizing the siege in all its stench and gore. The book ends with an epilogue and a glossary. A fitting conclusion to a well-researched, idiosyncratic medieval series. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
The only bad thing about his story is that most of Pagan's wit and funnny, clever remarks are lost. The author attempts to recreate this intelligence in Isidore, but the effect just isn't the same,
This book is a real tearjerker, and I was up half the night after I finished reading just thinking about what I had just read. This story packs so many themes in one novel that the reader needs some time to digest all the information. I also particularly like the epilogue at the end. I'm still not sure that this story is true, but the epilogue certainly suggests it.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Middle Ages, especially the Crusades. It makes much more sense if you have already read the three others. You cacn still read it without this knowledge but it is muchh more confusing, since many characters and themes are resurrected from Book Two. I recommend the series to anyone who likees to read, though there is some strong languages and a few themes that might not be appropriate for younger readers.
This final novel in the Pagan series is told by bookish and rather delicate Isadore, who leaves his home village, where books are so hard to come by, to become scribe to Pagan, now Archdeacon of Carcassone. Isadore can hardly believe so irreverent a man could attain such a high position in the Church. But he soon learns Pagan's worth, not to mention how dangerous the world outside his little village is, for this is 1209, the year in which Papal forces from the north begin their bloody crusade against the Cathar heretics, and the battle line quickly moves closer to Carcassone.
From the quote with which I start this review, it can be seen that Catherine Jinks doesn't abandon the spare writing style she used for Pagan's voice in the rest of the series. However, readers are left in no doubt that the narrator's character and personality are nothing like those of Pagan. While Isadore has many endearing qualities, most readers will find him less appealing than Pagan. I personally missed Pagan's sarcastic and humorous comments but still found this book as fast-paced and engrossing as the previous three.