Sutcliff, Rosemary. Knight’s Fee.
Front Street Books (see Boyd's Mill Press) 2008 285p 10.95 978-1-59078-640-6 jr/sr
A few decades after the Battle of Hastings, a fig falls from a parapet and an orphan boy’s life changes forever. Sutcliff combines well-drawn characters with authentic dialog, historical detail and a story that takes the reader to another time and place. Knight's Fee is a compelling story about the early Norman period in French and English history. We meet Randal, a ten year old orphan boy, who lives in Arundel castle. He survives by caring for the dogs living with them in the kennel. Lord Hugh Montgomery, one of the sons of William the Conquerer, is returning home from battle and as he enters the castle, Randal accidentally drops a partially eaten fig onto his horse.
Later Randal is identified as the culprit. Brutally shaken just short of death, Randal is saved through the intervention of Montgomery’s minstrel. The minstrel gives Randal into the care of Sir Everard d’Aguillon, an honorable and just knight, and will become the squire of d’Aguillon’s grandson, Bevis. Meanwhile, Randal has learned an important secret that will affect the course of history.
This is a great read for students as well as adults. It has an interesting plot, characters to care about and dialog that allows the reader to travel back in history.
I wish that the publisher had chosen a better cover. This edition is dark blue-gray with the image of chess piece representing the knight. It does not do a good job of conveying the adventure inside the cover.