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It’s a science fiction story at least 10 years old where people on spaceship crash into medieval type civilization. I only remember bits and pieces as I read it as a kid and mom made me return it.

  1. They used the ship’s laser to sharpen their swords and have the best medieval weaponry.
  2. Started trading with some people but of course ended up in war.
  3. I still remember the ending after all this time: The commander of the medieval army is attacking and the ship people somehow make their laser expand and take out the whole force, and as the commander is hit the author writes "he watched the ?picture of his family melt, and he along with it."

I’ve searched for this book for 5-10 years now and no luck - one of my biggest regtets is returning it.

marked as duplicate by Otis, DavidW, TheLethalCarrot, amflare, Dave Johnson Mar 29 at 21:09

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It sounds like Fall of Angels, one of the Recluce novels by L.E. Modesitt Jr.

The central characters are space military from some war who end up in a fantasy (low tech, high magic) universe. One of the characters; one of the few if only - it has been a while since I read it - male crew members, starts to development magic wielding abilities.

I remember the engineering officer using the laser to make very sharp swords and also that at least some of the crew were from cold worlds and were happy with the climate that they had landed in - high in the mountains.

The other people that they meet in the world have strong ideas about women ruling themselves - they shouldn't - and this is one of the main drivers for conflict in the book.

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It might be "King David's Spaceship" by Jerry Pournelle.

The story has a couple of sections that you might have merged in to one.

There was an empire among the stars. It collapsed, and the individual planets got along as best they could. Some died out completely, some lost all use of technology and had to rebuild, and some retained enough technology to regain star travel after a relatively short time.

King David's planet is one that didn't do so well. A more advanced planet is intent on rebuilding the empire, and has come to force the people of King David's world to unite under one government and be admitted to the new empire.

The bit you mentioned about s "he watched the picture of his family melt, and he along with it" reminds me of one of the battles that took place. Colonel McKinney is one of the better officers of a smaller kingdom on the planet. He and his men actually managed to shoot down one of the (laser armed) imperial landing ships in battle. This causes the local empire commander to have another landing ship destroy the whole lot of them in a second attack using the laser directly on the men (rather than on the cannons or other equipment.) McKinney survives, but his soon to be wife was in the area that got blasted. Much later, as he is telling the story, he uses a phrase very much like what you wrote.

The other part of the story involves the imperial traders taking a group from King David's planet to another place that was even more backwards.

McKinney is chosen to head the group. They are actually trying to get to the remains of an old empire library - hoping to learn enough to build their own spaceship. The new empire takes in planets with spaceships under better conditions than those without.

McKinney does indeed fight (and win) a war under medieval conditions to get access to the library.


Might not be your story, but could be given the lack of details.

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