Rosemary Sutcliff’s Knights Fee – a historical novel for children and young adults – is set against the violent and turbulent backdrop of Norman England. It tells the story of a young ill-treated dog-boy Randall who is wagered and won in a game of chess between a lord and
a minstrel. Events are triggered when he drops a ripe fig from the battlements on the nose of his Norman Lord’s horse. He is adopted by the family of a slightly older boy, Bevis, who is destined to become a knight.
Interwoven with treachery and witch-hunting, and the plot against Rufus and the Old Religion, is the boys’ developing friendship and Randall’s burgeoning appreciation of beauty, demonstrated when he sees a flock of goldfinches and steals Bevis’s treasured piece of red amber. Eventually he comes to his own Manor, and his own grown strength, and cleaves de Couchy ‘to the chine’.