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Some thoughts on re-reading the Pagan Chronicles as an adult - Pagans Crusade Fandom
Some thoughts on re-reading the Pagan Chronicles as an adult
Hi guys! I just re-read the entire series and suddenly remembered I was a member of this comm... I thought I'd share some thoughts on how my appreciation for these books and their characters has changed with age.

It's hard to believe that I read these books for the first time when I was 12 (with the exception of Pagan's Daughter, which came out much later). Reading them now, I'm not sure I'd recommend them for a 12-year-old! But at the time, a lot of the adult content went completely over my head - for example, I was completely oblivious to the fact that Jordan was gay, and I didn't really grasp exactly what Aeldred's crime was in Pagan's Vows. But I'm also kind of glad that I did read them long before I had discovered slash fiction. I don't have anything against slash, don't get me wrong - and these books lend themselves to it soooo easily - but that is the very reason I'm glad I had a chance to appreciate them without the slash goggles. If you take away any thoughts of Pagan/Roland, what you have is a beautiful, heartbreaking tale of friendship - of people who love one another deeply and unconditionally but in a completely platonic way. Jordan is another matter, of course - but the central relationship at the heart of each of the Pagan books is one between a mentor and a protege, and that is a wonderful thing. I also love the fact that both Pagan and subsequently his protege, Isidore, get a story in which they have taken on the mentoring role, and this is one of the reasons I enjoyed Pagan's Scribe and Pagan's Daughter so much more on this re-read. It's great to see them both as adults - to see them accomplished, respected, an inspiration to others. When I first read Pagan's Scribe I was just disappointed that Pagan was no longer a snarky teenager. Now, I love the fact that Pagan becomes a wise, intellectual (but nevertheless snarky) adult. (Though I still feel that Isidore isn't nearly as engaging a narrator as Pagan was.)

I also now have a lot more appreciation for the peripheral characters. Jordan is an obvious example - we are told so little about his history, and yet what little we know raises so many questions. What was his childhood like? What sort of experiences would he have had, knowing he was gay in the medieval world? His sociopathic streak - what cruelty has brought that out in his character? Another character I find more interesting now is Brother Clement, Pagan's novice master in Pagan's Vows. When I read the book for the first time, I saw him exactly the way Pagan did: as a harsh, nasty teacher who picks on Pagan for no good reason. Of course, his true motivation is revealed at the end, but even then, teenage me sympathised with Pagan and despised Clement. Now I can see far more clearly that Clement isn't picking on Pagan: he's challenging him. It is obvious that he devotes all his time to Pagan, that he neglects the other novices, that all his efforts are directed towards giving Pagan's sharp intellect something to work with... and Pagan, like the teenager he is, remains oblivious and unappreciative until the very end.

How I wish Catherine Jinks would write more of these books. On her website, she's said that another book set between Pagan's Vows and Pagan's Scribe would be out of the question, as Pagan and Roland lead separate lives at that point, and Pagan is getting a bit old... but I would read that book, if she wrote it. I would gobble it up like I gobbled all five books in the series. I would also quite happily read another Babylonne book - if only so I could see more of adult Isidore - a far more likeable character than his teenage self.


3 comments or Leave a comment
earthminor From: earthminor Date: 10th February 2014 06:37 (UTC) (Link)
I agree with all of what you said. Not the world's most constructive comment, but I didn't want something so insightful to go without some kind of appreciation. :)
aliensouldream From: aliensouldream Date: 12th February 2014 01:39 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for sharing your thoughts! It is a different experience reading the books as an adult.

For me, while appreciating the journey that the characters take to reach their maturer selves, I kept regretting the loss of the fire and spark of their younger selves, especially Pagan.

I don't understand why Catherine Jinks has not wished to explore Pagan's individual journey after Vows because the transition to his elder self is then far too abrupt. We are not privileged to see the majority - possibly even the most interesting - part of his life. It's as if, as an old man, he began to write his memoirs from the beginning, but the greater part of them was lost, or he rushed to tell the ending for some pressing reason. Maybe the rest of his story will be revisited at some point. He was certainly a character worth loving and following.

Great that you still enjoyed them after all these years!
privatemaladict From: privatemaladict Date: 12th February 2014 05:25 (UTC) (Link)
I think I enjoy them even more now - I revisit the stories every few years and each time I find something new to love, which is amazing when you consider how short these books are.

I can kind of understand CJ's reasoning - Pagan at the end of Vows is clearly at the end of one phase of his life. He is finally starting on his own path, leaving his support (Roland) behind. Even in Vows, you can see his growing independence - if you think about it, this is the first time we have really seen Pagan actively shape events in the story, as opposed to just being an observer. In Crusade and Exile, Pagan was mostly along for the ride, except for a couple of defining moments. So a post-Vows book would have to be different in style and theme to all the other books in the series, with a mature, independent narrator. But I don't see exactly why CJ shies away from this - she has written so many different books, with so many different styles and themes and characters - there is absolutely no reason why as a writer she couldn't break away from the original pattern. I suspect she just hasn't had the inspiration for another story, and if it ever comes to her, we will see another Pagan book. Perhaps one which is more adult in style, like The Notary or The Inquisitor (both excellent books).

I for one would welcome any new story about Pagan. I would happily take another story about any of the three narrators - a post-Vows Pagan, a post-Scribe Isidore or a post-Daughter Babylonne (in that order of preference).
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