I only discovered Rosemary Sutcliff recently, but by the time I'd finished the second book, I was on a quest to find everything I could, and delighted to learn that she wrote more than 50 books. Knight's Fee is the eighth and my favorite to date. (Yes, even more than Eagle of the Ninth, which is waaaayyyy better than the recent movie.) Her settings are vivid, her characters superbly drawn, and her writing exquisite. Sutcliff tells a better story in 250 pages than most authors manage in twice the page count.
Knight's Fee is set in southern England in the 1090s and early 1100s, as the kingdom is settling, still uneasily at points, into Norman rule. The real events and people of the time are skillfully woven throughout the fictional aspects of story. The main character is the orphan son of a minor Saxon lady and a Breton man-at-arms who is left to fend for himself as a dog-boy at the castle where his father had served. At age 10, he is taken into the household of a neighboring Norman knight to be a companion and squire to his grandson and sole surviving descendant. The reader watches him grow up and become entwined into the lives and lot of his foster brother and father. Ultimately, he becomes a knight, although at a terrible price. The ending is powerful enough, and so bittersweet, that it left me with a lump in my throat and a reluctance to pick up another book because it will be a disappointment after this one.