Leo Frankowski's Conrad Stargard saga.
Full Name, including titles:
Conrad Stargard, Sir, Duke, almost King.
Gary Stueus Tempus Fugitarian
Hair Colour (include adjectives):
Brown, curly locks.
Brown, deep and "soulful"
Well… he's a giant, by 13th century standards. Also: "He was incredibly tall and handsome, with a true hero's litheness of body, with fine, broad shoulders and—dare I write it?—the most lovely posterior I had ever seen! And there was about him such an astounding aura of wisdom and learning and kindness"
Special Possessions/Pets: Anna the sci-fi equivalent of a standard-fantasy-mount – intelligent, battle ready, never tiring mare. She's also a bio-engineered product of time traveling civilization, is basically intelligent, loyal, trustworthy and capable of unfertilized self-reproduction.
Pretty much the entire population of 13th century Poland. There are approximately 10 individuals/groups that disagree with Stefan over the course of 6 novels. They all die, in very messy ways. Every other individual who manages to survive the series ends up worshipping his shadow. Also, his cousin runs a time traveling company/civilization, and is always ready to help him out from behind the scenes/ completely in the open. Deux Ex like you wouldn't believe.
A humble 20th century polish engineer falls asleep in an inn run by the aforementioned time-travelers, and due to a
Annoying Way of Ruining the Story:
Conrad IS the story. There are, literally, 5 plot threads per book that don't have anything to do with him (mostly the love life of secondary characters) and absolutely no plot threads that would have happened if he didn't exist.
"So, what's wrong with the plot?", I pretend you ask:
Most reinterpretations of "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" drop the socio-political aspects of the original, and settle for a trite and boring fantasy adventure with modern protagonists. This one doesn't. So that's good.
On the other hand… it somewhat lacks the humor, poignancy and POINT of Twain's satiric view of conservative society. In fact, if I thought Frankowski had the intelligence or wit to do something so subtle, I would consider this a parody of a parody; Conrad admires medieval society, gets along famously with the creative, jolly, easily influenced and educated locals, despises modern day western (and Soviet) society, is open about his secret with the powers that be and is enthusiastically endorsed by them, and is COMPLETELY SUCCESSFUL IN ALL HIS ENDAVOURS. The only time Conrad is remotely threatened after book 1, is when he's challenged to a duel by a Teutonic knights champion. And he's got his back covered by his time traveling cousin, the entire time. By the point the Mongol invasion of several million warriors comes along, he's got airplanes, steamboats and machine guns. Bodies are gleefully stacked to the point that would remind an old Python fan of the "bring out your dead" version of Tetris in the "Holy Grail" game. He's rarely challenged, he gets everything he wants, and there's really no POINT to it all.
Annoying Special Abilities:
He's the ultimate Stue.
What, you want more?
All right. He's tall, handsome, strong, an incredible warrior, lover and engineer. In fact, he's an utterly unbelievable engineer. "The man who came early" and "Ladies Whose Bright Eyes" explain in great detail why an intelligent engineer would be unable to produce nearly any modern technology in the medieval/renaissance periods. Meanwhile, Conrad is able to remember or reinvent nearly every bit of modern technology – lumberjacking, house building, metal smiting, weapons production… and those bits that Conrad has absolutely no reason to be an expert in, but needs for his advances anyway are neatly provided by various Dei Ex. Oh, my Dei… when the plot is so blatantly at the service of a single character, there is never a shortage of kneeling to be done. At the end of book 6, Conrad's time traveling cousin drops by and gives a Cure-All for every decease known and unknown, so that Conrad's civilization will get to explore the Americas without killing the native population through decease. Oh, and he rejuvenates him and grants him immortality as a minor bonus.
Miscellaneous Reasons The Sue/ Books Should Not Exist:
Besides the above? Let's see. If he didn't exist, I would probably have spent 12 hours of my life actually defending the great state of Israel, rather than reading this crap (or at least reading something more worthwhile).
Besides that? What little point the books do have, is as a soapbox for Frankowski's thoughts on modern culture, and as a shining propaganda example of his ideal society. On that, well: " Frankowski has expressed open hostility for "liberals" and "feminists," admitting that anyone who falls into these categories will be unlikely to enjoy his fiction.According to the author, most of his fans consist of "males with military and technical backgrounds," while he likewise claims his detractors consist of "feminists, liberals, and homosexuals."
Also, the constant underage sex. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that part? It simply didn't quite seem to fit any of the above sections. We are often reminded that 13th century Poland didn't have a nudity taboo. And girls married young. Like, 12-13. And knights, like Sir Conrad and all the other secondary characters could have sex with any peasant girl they wanted. But none of that was rape, because all the peasant girls really wanted to have sex with a knight. And share him with other juvenile peasant girls, without having any prospect of marrying him (because Conrad, like any other responsible male in his 40's (!)) finds marriage a terrifying concept). And heaven forbid you should consider this pedophilia. The characters only become interested in girls once they start developing breasts.
Another character marries a bio-engineered "wench", the humanoid equivalent of a horse, taught to love and honor unconditionally. The marriage ends of fairing much better than that of other couples, where the wife dares to have her own values and/or thoughts. Just thought I might mention that.
Redeeming Qualities: (Reasons the Sue might not be annoying to someone else): Well, aside from the underage sex, encyclopedian knowledge of modern technology and utter invincibility, Conrad is a somewhat typical adolescent fantasy male hero. He's also quite ludicrously humble, always going on about how he's "just an engineer" totally ignoring all evidence of himself being the chosen of the gods.
Also, while the book is first and foremost associated with the Yankee at Arthur's Court, there's something quite Robinzonian about it. Not in the profoundly psychological sense of being alone in an alien civilization, but rather in the torturously detailed manner in which everything the hero builds and designs is constructed with 13th century technology. I would recommend taking the books along if you need some lightweight manuals for your next time traveling session. Also good for designing non-traditional Role Playing setting with a strong underlying reasoning for technological deviance.
Small snippet of Sue Being Annoying:
Another's impressions of him:
Yet when first I saw Sir Conrad, I thought that I was looking on a messenger of the Lord! He was incredibly tall and handsome, with a true hero's litheness of body, with fine, broad shoulders and—dare I write it?—the most lovely posterior I had ever seen! And there was about him such an astounding aura of wisdom and learning and kindness that my heart went out to him in that instant. In truth, I remember that I let out a little squeal of delight, despite the fact that my husband, John, was in the room with us.
In the months that followed, I tried to convey to Sir Conrad that I would be eager to do anything that he desired, but such was his sense of honor that he would not even think sexual thoughts about a woman that he thought to be married. And since Count Lambert let Sir Conrad make full use of his peasant girls, there was no need for Sir Conrad to look farther afield. Not to mention the fact that those girls were all years younger than I.
Sir Conrad had an almost magical horse that could run at an amazing pace for hours on end. It could answer questions by nodding or shaking its head, and it never soiled its stall but went out in the bailey like a well-trained dog. It was astoundingly gentle to all, even the smallest child, unless it felt its lord was in danger, at which time it became the most deadly of beasts! I greatly admired this animal and often visited its stall.
Sir Conrad was a great master of all the constructive arts, and he built for the count great windmills and an entire cloth factory. He brought with him hundreds of types of seeds that grew into vastly productive food plants and radiantly beautiful flowers. He knew a thousand songs, and I was sure that he thought them up on the spot, though he denied it. He could dance a dozen new steps, and I thrilled to be in his arms for his waltz, his mazurka, and his polka. He could tell a thousand wondrous stories of lands and times far, far away. Many were the nights that he talked until midnight of the adventures of nine-fingered Frodo or of Luke Skywalker. He loved children and was always telling them some new story or teaching them some new game or making them some new toy. He was a master of the sword, the chessboard, and the pen. How could I help but love him?