Thank you to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for granting me access to an ARC of The Forgotten Kingdom in exchange for an honest review.
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About the Book
The Forgotten Kingdom
The Lost Queen Trilogy Book Two
by Signe Pike
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Page Count: 496
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
The story continues in The Forgotten Kingdom, the second book in the astonishing Lost Queen trilogy, already hailed as “Outlander meets Camelot” (Kirsty Logan) and “The Mists of Avalon for a new generation” (Linnea Hartsuyker).
AD 573. Imprisoned in her chamber, Languoreth awaits news in torment. Her husband and son have ridden off to wage war against her brother, Lailoken. She doesn’t yet know that her young daughter, Angharad, who was training with Lailoken to become a Wisdom Keeper, has been lost in the chaos. As one of the bloodiest battles of early medieval Scottish history scatters its survivors to the wind, Lailoken and his men must flee to exile in the mountains of the Lowlands, while nine-year-old Angharad must summon all Lailoken has taught her and follow her own destiny through the mysterious, mystical land of the Picts.
In the aftermath of the battle, old political alliances unravel, opening the way for the ambitious adherents of the new religion: Christianity. Lailoken is half-mad with battle sickness, and Languoreth must hide her allegiance to the Old Way to survive her marriage to the next Christian king of Strathclyde. Worst yet, the new King of the Angles is bent on expanding his kingdom at any cost. Now the exiled Lailoken, with the help of a young warrior named Artur, may be the only man who can bring the Christians and the pagans together to defeat the encroaching Angles. But to do so, he must claim the role that will forever transform him. He must become the man known to history as “Myrddin.”
Bitter rivalries are ignited, lost loves are found, new loves are born, and old enemies come face-to-face with their reckoning in this compellingly fresh look at one of the most enduring legends of all time.
Blurb from Goodreads.
My Rating: 4 Stars
The Forgotten Kingdom by Signe Pike is the sequel to The Lost Queen in what will eventually be a trilogy, but it does read easily as a stand-alone title. (I haven’t read The Lost Queen yet and I was not lost.) My research tells me The Lost Queen was a coming of age story about Languoreth and Lailoken told entirely from Languoreth’s point of view (POV.) The Forgotten Kingdom continues on with adult Languoreth and Lailoken and Languoreth’s young daughter Angharad all as different POV characters. It’s an interesting take on Arthurian legend with many familiar names used (such as Uther Pendragon and a Gwen-variant), but the relations between traditional Arthurian characters have been remixed and reimagined to better align with real historical figures bearing those names. These are the battles and other conflicts that lead to the rise of King Arthur (Artur) and his Merlin (Myrddin), which we can assume will be the focus of book three.
As someone who didn’t read The Lost Queen and wasn’t already emotionally attached to Languoreth, it took a long time to enjoy the sections of this book that were written in Languoreth’s POV. Her first chapter is full of internal monologue exposition info-dumping and a whole lot of self-pity, which was an unwelcome downer in mood after enjoying a child’s perspective on the world in Angharad’s chapters and the iron-willed POV of Lailoken. With that said, rest assured that Languoreth’s chapters got better and no longer tempted me to skim by about a third to half of the way through the book.
I acknowledge and understand that this was a long book with a lot to say, but I desperately wanted the beginning to be longer. I wanted more of Lailoken learning to handle his niece. I wanted more of Angharad adjusting to life with the Pendragons and learning from Diarmid. I wanted to sit in on conversations between Lailoken and Eira as they got to know each other and fell in love. (Seriously, they were strangers in one chapter and lovers in the next.) The beginning of this book gives us enough of “before the war” to set up who everyone is, where they’re starting from, and why we need to know. I don’t feel like it gave us enough to make us care about certain characters. We get there eventually, caring about many of the characters, but I feel like one or two more chapters hanging out with the characters in the beginning could have done that before we followed Lailoken into battle.
The different perspectives in this book are well written in that it’s immediately obvious whose perspective you’re reading even if you skip the identifiers on the chapter title page. As mentioned, I loved the Lailoken and Angharad chapters immediately, and the Languoreth chapters grew on me. Angharad’s chapters were my favourites. The timeline was not consistent across the POV shifts, however. Dates are given on chapter title pages but with three perspectives and several years’ worth of time difference later on in the book, sometimes those leaps back and forth in time got a little confusing. Most of Lailoken’s chapters, for example, follow the outcome of the first battle we see with relatively little fast-forwarding, but by the time Lailoken has only progressed a couple of months from that battle, we’ve already read a much older Angharad. Some POV shifts required the mental flexibility to realize which parts we had just read will actually be in the future for the character we are now reading.
I’m not overly familiar with Outlander (which this book has been compared to) but my mother loves those books and the NetFlix series, so I will definitely be urging her to pick up these books as well. That said, I do know from her gushing about the Outlander series that it’s built around a modern character who travels many centuries back in time, and because of that I went into this book expecting something similar. Minor spoiler: There’s no actual time travel in The Forgotten Kingdom other than the timeline jumping between POVs in the latter half of the book.
Overall I enjoyed this book. As mentioned, Languoreth’s POV grew on me and Lailoken and Angharad were great from the beginning. My opinion of this title improved along with Languoreth’s chapters. At this point, I rate The Forgotten Kingdom a solid 4 stars out of 5 and I look forward to book three. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in historical fiction or fantasy, particularly those who enjoy Arthurian lore and 6th century Great Britain settings.
About the Author
Pike’s first book, a travel memoir entitled FAERY TALE received glowing reviews from Harper’s Bazaar and Women’s Adventure Magazine. Pike has been featured on WPR’s “To the Best of Our Knowledge” in an episode on enchantment along with Salman Rushdie, Neil Gaiman, and A.S. Byatt.
The Lost Queen is currently in development for a television series with the production company Made Up Stories.
A former acquisitions editor, Pike currently lives in South Carolina, where she writes full time.
Photo and info from Goodreads author bio.
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