I'm looking for a book about a man who wakes up in medieval times and uses his advanced knowledge to get ahead. He becomes a knight and winds up having a fiefdom of his own to develop. He then builds structures for his people, like apartments, windmills etc., and improves on farming and sanitation. He is preparing for a war which he knows will happen in a few years (from history).

There's also a sequel I'd like to find. I read this 15 years ago (or more), I think.

  • Hi and welcome to the site! Did you read this in English? This has a good amount of detail but you can also go through this list and see if you can think of any more to add. scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/9335/… – MissMonicaE Jan 17 at 5:03
  • 1
    @user14111 I first read "The Man Who Came Early" when I was quite young. (In fact, I didn't run across a copy of Lest Darkness Fall until many years later.) I always felt Anderson stacked the deck against his time-traveler by killing the man off before the guy could really hope to adapt his thinking to the primitive conditions around him and decide what was possible. (Much more primitive than the conditions in Ostrogoth-dominated Rome in de Camp's novel.) Give that traveler a little more time, and he might have duplicated Padway's idea of making moonshine with a still to raise capital . . . – Lorendiac Jan 17 at 9:04
  • @Lorendiac --- You don't need moonshine to get ahead in these circumstances. What you need is a BOOM stick. – Ian Thompson Jan 17 at 9:30
  • If JRE's answer is correct, you can accept it by clicking on the checkmark by the voting buttons. – FuzzyBoots Jan 17 at 10:46
  • 1
    @IanThompson In deCamp's book, Padway tried to "invent" gunpowder . . . and failed. I think he remembered the key ingredients, but was unclear on the exact sequence of steps to follow to combine them into a truly explosive substance. I suspect Anderson was assuming that his time traveler was likewise unsure of how to do it properly when he didn't have a chemistry textbook in his pocket. – Lorendiac Jan 18 at 10:08

Sounds like the character Conrad Stargard in "The Cross-Time Engineer" written by Leo Frankowski.

Conrad is an engineer in Poland. While on vacation, he gets drunk in an old tavern. He falls asleep in the basement when he goes looking for a toilet.

The tavern is used as a trading post by a time traveling organisation. Conrad managed to fall asleep in a bunch of goods destined for the middle ages.

When he wakes up, the transfer is complete and Conrad wanders out of the tavern with a hangover and finds himself in 13th century Poland, about 10 years before the Mongols invade in the year 1240.

There are several books about Conrad's adventures.

He does become a knight and build windmills.

Before it is all over, he has also built up a large army (disguised as a religious order to circumvent laws about who is allowed to have an army.) They are to fight off the Mongols.

He also builds a navy of steamships on the rivers in Poland. They are used for trade, but are armed - and all members of the crews belong to his army.

He builds small airplanes with motors.

He builds spark gap radios so the army has good communications.

His army has steel armor and swords made in his factories. They also have gatling gun style machine guns.

Along the way he also introduces some basic sanitation (sewers and toilets) and improved living conditions for the workers in the factories in the town he builds.

The "improving farming" bit came about accidentally.

The day he fell asleep in the tavern, he had been in a farming research facility that also sold small packets of seed to the public. Since he would be close by it on his vacation, his mother had asked him to buy some seed for.

He ended up flirting the rather attractive saleswoman in the shop - she sold him a lot more seed than was reasonable.

She was supposed to meet him at the tavern, but things got in the way and she didn't show up.

Conrad got drunk when it became clear that she wasn't coming to the tavern.

The seeds he had with him were a lot of use in medieval Poland. Modern grains and many vegetables. This brought much improved crop yields and better food.

List of books in the series:

  1. The Cross-Time Engineer

  2. The High-Tech Knight

  3. The Radiant Warrior

  4. The Flying Warlord

  5. Lord Conrad's Lady

  • 1
    That series was my first thought when I saw the question, although Books 6 and 7 were written later on. (I own a copy of Book 6, and last year I became aware of Book 7 and read some scathing reviews of it. Apparently it was a collaboration with someone else, shortly before Frankowski died, and some readers felt it didn't measure up to the earlier books.) – Lorendiac Jan 17 at 7:13
  • 1
    The first few books were the best, in my opinion. After that, it got more self-indulgent, to the point where the cross-time benefactors were heavily meddling instead of just keeping Conrad from dying. – FuzzyBoots Jan 17 at 10:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.