an modernist-style oil painting shows a young man reading a book


Son of the manse Horatio Pagan yearns for a God-given and exalted destiny ― and discovers it in the murder of an aristocrat.


John Herdman's beautiful and mysterious Edinburgh tale, Pagan's Pilgrimage, first published in Scotland 1978.

With nascent love abandoned and the recurring presence of the creeping ‘wrinkled-nosed’ laundry man of a traumatic childhood, the stagnating life of Pagan must be revived by the discovery of a somewhat questionable raison d’être ― the assassination of an aristocrat.
The spleenful nature of Herdman’s titular protagonist and a selection of odd experiences perfectly sets up a strife deep within a young man as he is called to this murder.
In Pagan’s Pilgrimage John Herdman expertly demonstrates his capacity to evoke complicatedly moralising characters with haunting effect.  Equal parts absurd and ephemeral, Pagan's Pilgrimage is an enigmatical Edinburgh tale.
 "A sustained and often brilliant performance ... sheer comic invention and verbal ingenuity ... This is an observant, intelligent and humorous novel of great merit."
Alan Bold, The Scotsman
".... the writing is brilliant .....a kind of exploration of the Scottish soul .... An unforgettable piece of writing."
Cuthbert Graham, Press & Journal
"There is a seriousness at the heart of it, a wide philosophical background, and an acute psychological verity ... all that I have spoken of will delight you."
Catherine Lockerbie, The Student
“Remarkable in its clarity and disturbing in its implications. The novel is an impressive construct, amusing, climactic, at times dreadful, and locked together in tidily effective prose."
David Campbell, Scottish Educational Journal

 Pagan's Pilgrimage is re-published by Leamington Books


  • ISBN: 9781914090790