Book review: Poul Anderson — The High Crusade

In the year 1345, an alien spacecraft lands in the small English village of Ansby, expecting an easy defeat of the local primitives. Unfortunately for them, the local primitives are preparing to go on Crusade, and their reaction to having one of their number burned where he stands is a disciplined military reaction. That discipline and the aliens’ surprise results in the English capturing the ship. Unfortunately for the English, the last alien survivor manages to lock the ship onto an autopilot program that will return it to its base. Unfortunately for the alien empire, that gives the Baron 10 days of travel time to come up with a plan to conquer the garrison on the alien colony planet…

It sounds daft, and it is, but Anderson was a good enough writer to pull it off. Sir Roger may be a mediaeval baron, but he has an open mind, an excellent grasp of tactics, and a sound understanding of practical psychology. That makes him a formidable opponent for an empire that hasn’t had to deal with serious opposition for generations. It also makes for a very funny story, particularly when Sir Roger cheerfully lies his way through various negotiations, presenting himself as the representative of a large multi-planet empire.

First published in 1960, this is a short novel by today’s standards, but just the right length for the story it tells. It’s enormous fun, and well worth a read.

LibraryThing entry
at Amazon UK
at Amazon US


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