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The High Crusade

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  3,711 ratings  ·  294 reviews
In the year of grace 1345, as Sir Roger Baron de Tourneville is gathering an army to join King Edward III in the war against France, a most astonishing event occurs: a huge silver ship descends through the sky and lands in a pasture beside the little village of Ansby in northeastern Lincolnshire. The Wersgorix, whose scouting ship it is, are quite expert at taking over pla ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published November 18th 2003 by I Books (first published 1960)
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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May 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
The High Crusade by Poul Anderson, tells the unlikely but still somehow plausible tale of an alien invasion of earth in the 1300s.

The aliens made a cosmic blunder by messing with an English baron and his fiefdom. What ensues is a story that must be read to be believed and it is hard to put down. While reading this I could not help but recall scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, especially the scenes with Michael Palin as the lord of the castle in the swamps, saying, “Please! This is sup
Rounding up on the reread. It’s silly and tongue-in-cheek and strangely entertaining.
Your regular garden-variety Englishman in 1345 had a few things to worry about: the Hundred Year War, the general conditions of life in the not-so-pleasant Middle Ages, and - if they had a working crystal ball - the merciless arrival of the Black Death in three short years.

None of these worries normally included traipsing through the galaxy on a captured spaceship ("Lo! It was as a miracle!"), fighting the
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I had a certain idea about what this book was to be about before I read it. I'm a fan of Poul Anderson and some of the previous novels were so rich with history and research that I just had to finally read THIS:

1345 English knights under Edward III encounter first contact with aliens.

Awesome, right?

Well, imagine my discomfort and disappointment when it was pretty much a gloss-over for the actual history bits and we're left with the standard romantic Chivalry crap. And the aliens are peaceful. Is
Mike (the Paladin)
The aliens landed in Medieval times and were ready for an easy conquest of a backward world...till the knights rushed the ship and got inside and the aliens were defeated..and the ship lifted off in auto-pilot....

The plot sounds a bit hokey but it made such a good story. I think it could have made an ever better one, but my imagination took the original and ran with it. Fun, enjoyable, imaginative, original (nothing like it then and only variations since). As I said I like it. If it were written
May 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The idea that earth can resist an alien invasion is fairly ludicrous given that the aliens would have to travel light years across the universe to get here, so their level of technology and weaponry must be vastly superior to ours. Poul Anderson, a scifi legend, was well aware of this, and he carefully created an amusing scenario where such a thing is at least plausible. Anderson was a versatile author, books like Tau Zero and Brain Wave and The High Crusade are all very different (not to mentio ...more
Feb 11, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-ebooks
A thought-provoking “celebration” of the Englishman laced with tongue-in-cheek glamour and sprinkled with a deftly handled satire on contemporary superpowers and societies.

The book is short and there's a great deal of action and witty humor, it gets a bit more philosophical towards the end but I finished it in one sitting with ease.
An intergalactic mega empire scouts for new planets to dominate and one of his spaceships lands in 1345 Lincolnshire, England, where even “the lowliest serf looked up
Michael Jandrok
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been making a sincere effort over the last couple of years to play “catch-up” with a number of books that I somehow missed over the years. Look, let’s face it, we are mortal beings, and there is no way that we will ever be able to read all of the books that we want to read in a lifetime. It’s a good problem to have when one has an overflowing “to-read” pile, but it does make picking the next adventure tough sometimes.

I have always had an affinity for classic science-fiction, but there is s
Jun 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
I love Poul Anderson. It amazes me that he can write such masterful and complex works as The Broken Sword and something as silly and fun as The High Crusade, and make both equally enjoyable to me. The basic premise of this book is medieval Englishmen from around the time of the crusades, in space, brazening it out and taking over the universe. It is all dealt with very lightly, but there's still moments that are touching and emotionally compelling too -- Lady Catherine's words at the end of the ...more
Aug 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Re-read with my sisters January 18, 2017. SO GOOD, PEOPLE <3 <3 <3

(For more on why you really ought to read this joyous book, see my full review!)


Read August 27, 2016.





Erik Graff
Jul 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: boys
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
During the long summers without playmates at grandmother's cottage in southwest Michigan, I drew and read a lot when it was too lousy outside to spend a day with my dog, Jimmy. The beach, though nearby, had lost its charm after the first days of summer. There was none of the aesthetic concern for having a good tan which became a motivation in adolescence. If I joined the folks down there at all, I'd mostly read, only stepping in the water to cool off on the hottest days. Sometimes, however, I'd ...more
Timothy Boyd
Jan 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So what happens when you take a bunch of medieval knights and men-at-arms into space? They begin to conquer like any good nobleman would. Great SiFi book by one of the masters, very recommended
Mar 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Science fiction fans
The late Poul Anderson was one of the giants of the SF genre (actually, he wrote in all of the speculative genres) in the later 20th century, and this work is certainly a classic. (It's also the only Anderson novel that I've read, though I've enjoyed several of his short stories as well.)

With one of the most original premises (accurately set forth in the Goodreads description above) that I've ever encountered, Anderson uses a mildly humorous tone in much of this book, but it has its serious side
Juho Pohjalainen
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
A scout ship of a peaceful starfaring empire unwittingly lands on a small world inhabited with savage, primitive, hateful apemen, constantly at war with their own kind for any petty excuse. The apemen proceed to kill everyone, take over the ship, and take over the galaxy in a campaign of bloodshed. No one is happy with this.

This is one of the more comedic stories Poul Anderson wrote, with an absurd premise that one can stomach largely because it's never remotely taken seriously, though I'm not s
May 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf, fiction, sci-fi, america
Straight out of Golden Age SF:

Lo! It was a miracle! Down through the sky, seeming to swell monstrously with the speed of its descent, came a ship all of metal.

A spaceship lands in Britain in 1345 right in front of Sir Roger and his knights. The aliens are invaders as their blasters make clear, but they don't intimidate the British, who think they're either being attacked by a French trick or demons. They quickly kill all invaders and leave earth on their space ship, hoping to use it to attack th
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Apr 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
This novel is a wonderful romp. In 1345, Sir Roger Baron de Tourneville repels blue-skinned aliens who land their ship in his pasture. He boards his forces and the entire village of Ansby on the ship and demands a captured alien take them to France to join the English king. Instead the alien takes them to his planet where he's sure the Earthmen will be easily disposed of. Except... Well, you'll have to read.

The novel is great fun--a short, fast-paced read told as the first person account of Bro
Carol Storm
Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
I read this book as a kid and liked it a lot, because there were lots of battle scenes and the medieval knights really conquer the aliens.

At the time I didn't understand why this story wasn't a huge success like STAR WARS or LORD OF THE RINGS. Now I think I see what's missing.

1.) No Underdog to root for. The English as a group are underdogs, but the main character, Sir Roger deTourneville, is too much of a super duper football hero. (Someone else called him a stereotypical jock.) He's not a cha
May 02, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, middle-ages
The premise of this book made it an instabuy for me; a bunch of rough Hundred Years War era English dudes preparing to cross the channel and fuck up the French when this alien lands and starts being a total dick. The soldiers do the predictably human thing and slaughter the hell out of him and his buddies. Then they take over the ship and are forced into flying to the aliens' homeworld by a sneaky use of autopilot by the alien captive. I don't even remember what the hell these aliens were called ...more
Aug 10, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The trickster-hero character is a type whose roots go all the way back to the Ancient Greek comedies. The conceit is that a man of inferior status with a glib tongue and a ready boast could talk the gods themselves into giving up their own kingdom. This may be Poul Anderson's favorite character type, and here he appears as a Medieval lord called Sir Roger who, one day, finds himself having to defend his 14th century village from an alien invasion. The book follows Roger's exploits and successes ...more
Jun 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Okay... he wrote this one for fun. It has a Monty Pythonish meets Black Adderishly flavored absurd plot; A scout-ship/UFO from Wersgorix, crash-lands in the fields of the bumbling Sir Roger Baron de Tourneville who is trying to raise an Army to head off to the Crusades to "kill Saracens and bring back a fortune in gold and silver." Mostly to bring back the fortune.

de Tourneville is almost a stereotypical jock, more concerned with the sport of killing Saracens than in wooing his beloved. But ther
Anne Beardsley
How was this so much fun? Usually I don't even care for science fiction!

In the year 1345, a band of aliens land a scout ship outside an English village, in a preliminary to conquering the planet.
They aren't used to dealing with metal-wrapped madmen who are bold enough to shoot anything full of arrows and who consider themselves free men. They aren't used to dealing with people who don't know how to give up.

It's lovely.
Funny, exciting, human, a little touching, endlessly interesting and constan
Nov 09, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: appendix-n
The velocity of the plot is remarkable. Within ten pages the invading aliens had been pummeled and the English were on their way to the stars, and from there on their way to conquest. Its later half reaches too far and too fast as Anderson hurries toward the endgame of a space empire modeled on European empire.
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi
Wonderful blend of sci-fi and mediaeval history. Completely plausible response of real Knights to alien invasion. A really fun read.
Jan 05, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The High Crusade is a riotous adventure story.

A spaceship arrives in a medieval kingdom. Instead of being paralyzed with surpris, the English Knights charge into the fray and take the battle to the aliens. From here, the story escalates to one of increasingly lucky conquest. Far more Pulp SF than Hard SF, I imagine a serialized audience becoming more incredulous with each weeks installment.

The characters are mostly static, encountering a small difficulty then resolving it fairly soon. The narrat
Mar 30, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hardcover, b-c
This was one of the most entertaining of Poul Anderson's novels I have read thus far. The idea of a bunch of Medieval English soldiers capturing an extraterrestrial spaceship, which they originally took to be some weapon of war by the French with whom they were currently at war with. From there the plot is allowed to get as wild as Anderson can imagine it.

A wonderful book.
Jan 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
A wonderful space opera with a nice twist (especially for being written in 1960). What if aliens tried to conquer medieval England and the baron was too ignorant to not attack. And then he takes his crusade to another planet and finally to seize control of a galactic empire. The old English style gives the book lots of flavor. Lots of action but the ending was a little hard to get through.
May 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Aliens take an entire medevil village into space so they can study humankind.
The local knight isn't thrilled with this arrangement and decides that he's going to find a way to take his people home no matter what.
and Poul Anderson does it all in about 150 pages. Great story.
Mar 27, 2020 rated it liked it
A nice book, where the tables are turned into having a medieval english village ending into space having to fight for their lives against alien overlords.
Still, despite the nice narrative I feel that at 3/4 of the book, the whole theme petered out, leaving nothing but internal conflict as the only source of conflict, and a rather underwhelming ending that couldn't had surprised anyone reached that point.
So, still worth a read but don't expect any big twists past halfway into this story.
Feb 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Yay book group!

One of the reasons I joined "my" sci-fi/fantasy book group is that I really wanted to connect with other readers of the fantastic. How fortunate to have found the group of people I did.

I came across The High Crusade via a book group friend; what a surprise to find it in my hands. It's a slim little thing, a pretty quick read, and very much fun.

Overall? I enjoyed this a lot. The idea is pretty fun: aggressive aliens come to medieval England and find a lot more than they expected
Ivan Stoner
May 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
I like to think that Poul Anderson was a pretty cool guy. He owned a houseboat with Jack Vance and had an epic pompadour.

Sad to say *High Crusade* is just mediocre. The concept is worth a story (a priest in medieval England writes of an alien ship landing The populace of the town swiftly charges in and takes the thing over leading to an improbable space adventure).

The execution is really not great. Picture aliens interacting with medieval characters plucked from an educational children's book.
This book sounds ridiculous, and a little awful, but I must convey to you how much fun I found this book to be.

The High Crusade is the chronicle of a Roger de Tourneville, as recorded by Brother Parvus and the events that took place after a spaceship landed near the town of Ansby, where Sir Roger was preparing to depart on a crusade. The aliens disembark their spaceship wielding a phase guns, but are quickly overtaken by an English heavy cavalry charge. Sir Roger intends to take the spaceship w
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Pseudonym A. A. Craig, Michael Karageorge, Winston P. Sanders, P. A. Kingsley.

Poul William Anderson was an American science fiction author who began his career during one of the Golden Ages of the genre and continued to write and remain popular into the 21st century. Anderson also authored several works of fantasy, historical novels, and a prodigious number of short stories. He received numerous a

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83 likes · 7 comments
“I am told that our chroniclers' practice of inventing speeches for great persons whose lives they write is unscholarly.” 3 likes
“I must have first read The High Crusade in my early teens, and in memory, the book is fun, with the English villagers and nobles conquering the galaxy after they’ve taken over an alien space ship that landed in their village. The Baron, Sir Roger, merely intended to catch a quick ride to the wars in France, then go on to the Crusades in Jerusalem, but one thing led to another.” 2 likes
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