Author: Signe Pike
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.
[The Lost Queen (#1) Review]
The Forgotten Kingdom is the sequel to The Lost Queen with the third and final novel due for publication in September of 2023. First and foremost, it is going to be a very difficult wait as this one does end in a cliffhanger leaving me want to immediately move on to the next novel that does not exist yet. The novel starts immediately after the last one ended so it is highly recommended reading the first novel before moving on to this one.
Lailoken (later known as Merlin) is a Dragon Warrior and a Wisdom Keeper. He travels with Uther Pendragon and the other Dragon Warriors. Along for the journey is Angharad, the eight year old, wise beyond her years, daughter of Languroeth, a Wisdom Keeper in-training and gifted seer. Everything turns upside down on their end when the messagener Languoreth sent at the end of the first book delivers the warning that Rhydderch (Languoreth’s husband), their son, Rhys, and a host of soldiers are coming to wage war on them to wipe them out. There is a huge battle with many casualties and Lailoken and Angharad become separated without knowing the fate of the other. The story follows each of their perspectives about their individual journeys to figure out the next steps.
The third perspective is Languoreth where we now encounter the aftermath after she was locked away when her husband and the rest of the army left to fight the war. Her husband and their son, whose true father is her true love Maelgwn, a Dragon Warrior, are on one side of the battle. On the other side are her twin brother, her foster brother, Uther, her cousin, Brant, and her love, Maelgwn. Her daughter, Angharad, is caught in the middle as she is too young to fight. At home, Languoreth has her two other children, Gladys and Cyan. With her family as her top priority she is originally at a loss about her next steps. As a woman in an encroaching patriarchal society, she first feels powerless, but then decides this will not be her end and she will find a way to move forward.
This novel is a little more complicated than the first as the The Lost Queen focused on Languoreth as the protagonist and moved in a linear timeline. The Forgotten Kingdom features three different perspectives, Languoreth, Lailoken, and Angharad and moved between years. Although they begin the story together, Lailoken and Angharad become separated due to a series of events. The story follows their individual journeys as new dangers and looming wars, including the battle that separated Lailoken and Angharad, are on the horizon. The pacing is slower than the first as it is a lot more complex, so it is not a fast read, but it does keep the reader interested from start to finish.
Overall, I love the amount of research that Pike did for this novel as she continues to take the known history and legends and puts them together into a realistic historical fiction series. I also appreciated her note about historical fiction vs historical fantasy as there really is a fine line between the two. The plot was very dynamic and complex as it was an ever evolving story. The characters are all incredibly complex as there is a lot of depth to every one of them, even the secondary characters are not one-dimensional, which I greatly appreciated. There are hints of what could possibly happen in the third novel, but it is impossible to tell if they will come true and how it will all turn out. An excellent sequel in the world of Arthurian legend!
**I want to give a special thank you to Netgalley, the publisher, Atria Books, and the author for a review copy of this excellent sequel novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**