Pagan's Loyalty


Pagan Chronicles' characters as GaiaOnline avatars

Less than a week ago, I found myself looking at my bookshelf and wondering what to do with all the books on it. The problem with keeping books sometimes is they get dusty and they take up space, so while the book has lots of nostalgic value, at the same time it’s a bit of a burden.

But I realised what was important to me was the story really, so I went to the iBooks store and located the novel. There’s something in me that is really reluctant to pay for a book when I don’t recieve something tangible, but then I realised that I’ve been enjoying and benefiting from these books for years, borrowed or otherwise, without paying them a single cent. What kind of fan am I that I would enjoy their works for years without so much as paying them anything for their hard work?

So I took the plunge and bought these books on the iBooks store, despite the DRM, as my phone is - in the end - the media device I use the most.

One of the series which I bought was The Pagan Chronicles, and that probably sounds very much like a ‘heathen’ or ‘infidel’ type of story. In fact I was actually surprised, back when I was in high school, that ‘pagan’ was something other than just a name. But it’s a name that suits this character - despite working for the Templars as a squire, growing up in a monastary and later on joining one again, his religious beliefs throughout the piece are entirely ambiguous, neither necessarily that of his knight master Roland, nor that of ‘heretic’ (Cathar) Esclaramonde.

‘Pagan in Exile’, or book 2, was the first novel I’d read out of this series, which then lead me to seek out the rest of the series and find out more about the characters. Each time I re-read it, despite knowing how it concludes (and more), I still always get this sense of unease when Lord Roland’s brother, Jordan, tries to charm Pagan over to his side. Will Pagan waver and decide to move on?

But today I had a revelation - took me long enough to get to it! Just freshly finished reading ‘Pagan’s Crusade’ (Book 1), I then encountered Jordan and his snakish ways in the second book, and realised that all along there was nothing to fear. Pagan’s love and loyalty for his Lord was clear at the end of the first book in all that he said and did - all along Jordan had no chance. Yet perhaps it’s a compliment to the writing that I was scared anyway.

The books are well written - witty and full of sarcastic imagery that makes me laugh in the most inappropriate locations (since I usually read while travelling here and there).

It was hard not to laugh. The look on Roland's face! As if he'd cracked open a nut and found a turd inside.

But one of the more interesting techniques in it which I didn’t realise until after a few reads of the series back in the day was how Pagan went from calling Lord Roland a sarcastic ‘Saint George’, to simply calling him ‘Roland’ as he came to think of him as a friend.

This book is also the reason I really like the name ‘Roland’ and think of it with a great deal of fondness. But God help any kid growing up with the name Roland from the playground bullies. Christ in a cream cheese sauce.

(I do believe I used to identify a bit with ‘Esclaramonde’ in the past, given she had a name similar to mine (well, it contains Clara, so close enough). I wonder if I will with this reading? Despite this being a young adult series, these books I will always read and reread with fondness and enjoyment. It tickles my fancy that someone made avatars of them on GaiaOnline though hee. Image by justinedarkchylde.)