Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Finding an Unexpected Connection by Sean M. Brooks

I recently reread (June, 2011) Poul Anderson's historical novel ROGUE SWORD. The book is set in the waning days of the Eastern Roman Empire of the early 1300's. The Catalan Grand Company of mercenaries was then ravaging the dying Empire. Because the Eastern Emperor Andronicus II had treacherously murdered the Grand Company's leader.

A secondary but important character in ROGUE SWORD is Brother Hugh de Tourneville, a knight of the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem/Rhodes/Malta. Brother Hugh's name seemed familiar, and I found his surname in THE HIGH CRUSADE.

A few quotes are indicated. The protagonist is Lucas Greco, who is waiting at the beginning of Chapter I to meet a new friend: "He stood in the Augustaion, waiting for Brother Hugh de Tourneville to meet him as they had agreed." Later in the same chapter I read: "this gentle, drawling second son of a Lincolnshire baron..."

Next I found this in Chapter I of THE HIGH CRUSADE (Brother Parvus narrating): "I was born some forty years before my story begins, a younger son of Wat Brown. He was blacksmith in the little town of Ansby, which lay in northeastern Lincolnshire. The lands were enfeoffed to the Baron de Tourneville..." (Baron Roger).
I was surprised ROGUE SWORD and THE HIGH CRUSADE had a connection of any kind. For one thing, THE HIGH CRUSADE, while a serious book, is often rollicking. ROGUE SWORD, by contrast, is a fierce, grim, and bloody book.

It was the year 1306 when Lucas Greco first met Brother Hugh de Tourneville. THE HIGH CRUSADE begins in 1345. My guess is Brother Hugh was the younger brother of Baron Roger's grandfather Nevil de Tourneville (mentioned in Chapter IX of CRUSADE). The Tourneville family was also said to be descended from a bastard son of William the Conqueror.

THE HIGH CRUSADE was first published as a magazine serialization in 1959 and published as a book in 1960. ROGUE SWORD was published in 1960 and reprinted by Zebra Books in 1980.

I also thought of how, in Chapter XV of ROGUE SWORD (and various other pages) Poul Anderson seem to have accepted the hostile view of the Knights Templar spread by their enemies. However, the last Time Patrol story Anderson wrote: "Death and the Knight," gives a less starkly negative view of the Templars.


  1. ROGUE SWORD is serious historical fiction whereas THE HIGH CRUSADE is historical sf comedy so they are different genres and could only have a slight connection! Still Shakespeare's histories and one of his comedies have a character in common.

  2. I had already bracketed these novels with THE MERMAN'S Children as all being set in the 14th century though of different genres: historical fiction; historical science fiction; historical fantasy. Nearly the same as James Blish's AFTER SUCH KNOWLEDGE trilogy which is historical fiction, contemporary fantasy and futuristic sf.

    1. Hi, Paul!

      Thanks for the two notes you left about my little essay. I'll respond to both here.

      Yes, I agree that ROGUE SWORD is serious historical fiction while THE HIGH CRUSADE is historical SF with dashes of humor. However, I still thought it STRIKING that both books have members of the Lincolnshire Tourneville baronial family in them. Which made it easy for me to think the Baron Roger of CRUSADE was related to the Brother Hugh we saw in ROGUE.

      I checked, and THE MERMAN'S CHILDREN is indeed set in the early years of the reign of Charles I of Hungary. With the "Kingmaker" Pavle Subitj as one of his powerful supporters. Anderson used Subitj as an important secondary character in the book. But, while THE MERMAN'S CHILDREN is set in roughly the same time period as ROGUE SWORD, I would not "bracket" it with ROGUE or THE HIGH CRUSADE. The plots of those books, in different ways, are too different from MERMAN to think the latter has much in common with the other two.

      Sincerely, Sean

    2. I had only linked the 3 as all being set in the 14th century. I was unaware of a further connection between just these 2 and am glad that you have pointed this out.

    3. Hi, Paul!

      I understand how you noticed how three books were all set in the 14th century. But that should not necessarily mean any of them had any real connection with the others.

      I only noticed the connection THE HIGH CRUSADE had with ROGUE SWORD by accident. Coming across Tourneville and Lincolnshire in ROGUE reminded me of how I read the 50th anniversary edition of THE HIGH CRUSADE. Quite accidental!


    4. A close study of Anderson's works always reveals more. One way I had of mentally categorising his works was to list them chronologically. Thus, THE GOLDEN SLAVE in the Roman Empire; the Ys tetralogy in the decline of the Empire; 6 Viking volumes; 3 in the 14th century; etc. Down thru history to the present and future and sideways into alternative histories.

    5. Hi, Paul!

      Thanks again, for commenting.

      Yes, I fully agree careful reading and studying of Anderson's works always reveals more. And a listing of "when" Anderson placed a story does make sense

      But THE GOLDEN SLAVE belongs to the 90's of the last century BC. After Marius had crushed the invasion of Italy by the Cimmerians and Teutones. In other words, the Late Republic--not the Empire.


    6. I should have said 8 Viking volumes.