This first novel by Goodman (Bernard's Bath, 1996, etc.), set in 1140, chronicles the desire of Will, 12, to emulate King Arthur and to become a great knight during a time of civil war in England. Despite Will's small stature, worthy people believe in him, among them his father, Sir John, and Lady Elaine, the heart and soul of Oxford Castle, where he trains as a page. Ranulf d'Artois seems to be his nemesis as Will struggles to improve his skills in the face of a barrage of teasing that includes his hated nickname, ""little rabbit."" But the fast-moving novel has surprises in store when evil plotting is revealed to Will and he finds that d'Artois is a stern protector. As Will matures, his childhood dreams start to become real. Will is a fully realized character, whose concerns have a contemporary feel. Blood, battles, sorrows, and joys of the era are authentically portrayed. Only determined readers will have a chance at comprehending the preface, which lists warring factions and royal lineage, but thereafter they will find a riveting plot that culminates in an escape scene worthy of translation to film. There is no glossary for the obscure terms, but there are handsome black-and-white chapter decorations and a map to complete this expressive work.