"Jinks again displays an amazing knack for blending utterly convincing period detail, earthy wisecracking, and profound respect for courtly and spiritual ideals."—BULLETIN OF THE CENTER FOR CHILDREN'S BOOKS
Having renounced the sword, Pagan and Lord Roland arrive at the Abbey of St. Martin to devote their lives to God. But no sooner are they outfitted in their novices' habits than Pagan suspects that something mysterious is going on: someone is stealing alms, and Pagan is determined to find out who. The truth may come at a price, however — one that could force Pagan to reconsider his pious role and his dedication to Roland. Now available in paperback, the third adventure of the four-book Pagan Chronicles is a medieval thriller that leads the reader through a web of mystery and intrigue in the most unlikely of places.
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Catherine Jinks is a medieval scholar and young adult author — a background that is evident in this third of four stories about Pagan Kidrouk. Catherine Jinks's books have garnered numerous awards, including the prestigious Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year. Pagan grew out of a university course Catherine Jinks took about the Crusades, and her fascination with the real Order of the Templar. She was also heavily influenced by British comedies like MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL. She didn't expect, however, that she would end up writing four books about Templar squire Pagan Kidrouk. "He was such a strong character," she explains, "that he sprang into my head fully formed, and wouldn't go away until I'd worked out his entire life span. He's certainly the strongest character I¹ve ever written about. The cutest, too, I think." Catherine Jinks lives in Australia.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Whoops! Don’t lose Montazin, Pagan. Scurrying after him: out of the northern transept, through the garden, into the graveyard. Trying to keep up. He has a chiseled face and elegant hands, with long, bony fingers. He stops near one of the more recent graves.
"Well?" he says. "What is it?"
"Please, Father, it’s Father Aeldred."
"What about him?"
"I think he’s stealing money."
Montazin’s expression changes. It becomes very intent. He narrows his eyes.
"What do you mean?" he says.
"I was in the almonry, washing feet — twelve feet — when I heard Father Aeldred tell Father Bernard that there were eight paupers. So Father Bernard gave him eight coins. But there were only six paupers, which means that Father Aeldred must have kept the other two coins. He was lying, Father."
Montazin seems to be thinking. His face is unreadable.
"Brother Aeldred may have made a mistake," he says at last, very slowly. "Or you may have."
"No, Father, I don’t think so. You see, I think he’s visiting someone in town. A widow." (Forgive me, Roquefire, but I never made any promises.) "I think that’s where the money might be going. To the woman in town."
Montazin blinks. This time he really seems startled.
"How do you know about that?" he exclaims.
"Someone told me.
"Well . . . if you don’t mind, I can’t tell you who told me. But it’s true, I swear it is."
A long pause. Everything’s very quiet and peaceful out here, now that the bells have stopped ringing. Just the twitter of birds, the buzzing of bees, and the faraway sound of a horse’s whinny.
"Have you told anyone else about this?" Montazin suddenly inquires.
"Then don’t. It’s a very serious thing, to accuse a monk of breaking his vows. Of course I shall look into it immediately. If it’s true, Brother Aeldred will be punished. But if you’ve made a mistake . . ."
Another pause. Don’t tell me. If I’ve made a mistake, you’ll pour molten lead down my throat and hang me upside down from the bell tower.
PAGAN'S VOWS by Catherine Jinks. Copyright (c) 2004 by Catherine Jinks. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.
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