Friday, September 7, 2018

[THE LOST QUEEN Blog Tour] Review + Written Piece


The Lost Queen (The Lost Queen Trilogy #1) by Signe Pike
Source: ARC from Simon & Schuster Canada to participate in blog tour.
Publisher: Touchstone
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Number of Pages: 576 (Hardcover)

DESCRIPTION

Mists of Avalon meets Philippa Gregory in the first book of an exciting historical trilogy that reveals the untold story of Languoreth—a powerful and, until now, tragically forgotten queen of sixth-century Scotland—twin sister of the man who inspired the legendary character of Merlin.

Intelligent, passionate, rebellious, and brave, Languoreth is the unforgettable heroine of The Lost Queen, a tale of conflicted loves and survival set against the cinematic backdrop of ancient Scotland, a magical land of myths and superstition inspired by the beauty of the natural world. One of the most powerful early medieval queens in British history, Languoreth ruled at a time of enormous disruption and bloodshed, when the burgeoning forces of Christianity threatened to obliterate the ancient pagan beliefs and change her way of life forever.

Together with her twin brother Lailoken, a warrior and druid known to history as Merlin, Languoreth is catapulted into a world of danger and violence. When a war brings the hero Emrys Pendragon, to their door, Languoreth collides with the handsome warrior Maelgwn. Their passionate connection is forged by enchantment, but Languoreth is promised in marriage to Rhydderch, son of the High King who is sympathetic to the followers of Christianity. As Rhydderch's wife, Languoreth must assume her duty to fight for the preservation of the Old Way, her kingdom, and all she holds dear.

The Lost Queen brings this remarkable woman to life—rescuing her from obscurity, and reaffirming her place at the center of the most enduring legends of all time.

REVIEW

I've been a fan of stories about Merlin and King Arthur for as long as I can remember, so when I first heart about The Lost Queen and how it centres partially around the man who is believed to be the inspiration for Merlin and his twin sister, Languoreth, I was extremely excited to pick it up! :)

While it wasn't quite what I expected, I still really, really enjoyed The Lost Queen! The world-building and descriptions were fabulous, and the characters were great! I did find the story dragged a bit at times, which I kind of expected because it's an epic, and there weren't as many Arthurian aspects to the story as I'd hoped there would be. I feel like that aspect of the story may be coming more in the later books of this trilogy, but I was kind of hoping for more right from the start. I did enjoy Languoreth's perspective though, and it was extremely fascinating to see the world through her eyes at different ages.

Along with loving the descriptions and world-building, I loved all of the characters. Languoreth was fierce, loyal, and strong, and I loved seeing how her perspective changed throughout the story. I also absolutely loved her brother Lailoken, and I really loved the bond between them. The Lost Queen was packed full of amazing secondary characters, and I really did love so many of them. They were extremely well flushed out, and they all felt so real. I really loved Languoreth and Lailoken's father, Morken...and I loved his relationship with Languoreth, too. And their cousins, Brant and Brodyn, and foster brother, Gwenddolau—all of them were amazing and I loved seeing how they all connected. Seriously all of the family parts of this book had my heart all twisted up because it was just so good...and then there was the romance! As I'm sure everyone knows by now, I'm a sucker for romance, so I loved the little romantic subplots. It isn't a big element of the story, but I adored every second of it!

Finally the story itself! As I mentioned, some parts were a little slow, but other parts were extremely intense and I was so anxious and just had to keep reading...I had to know what happened next! Even though I've always been a fan of Arthur and Merlin, I'm definitely not familiar with the true history that inspired their tales, and I was blown away by just how much detail was in The Lost Queen. The research elements were phenomenal, and it really does feel like you're experiencing everything through Languoreth's perspective. I'm definitely intrigued and excited to see where this trilogy goes next!

Overall, I really enjoyed The Lost Queen! I did find that it was a bit slow at times, but I thought that the world-building, characters, descriptions, and the story itself were extremely well done! I'd recommend The Lost Queen to readers who love historical fiction, especially if you enjoy epic tales and any-and-all-things to do with Merlin!


WRITTEN PIECE

TOPIC: What was your inspiration for writing, The Lost Queen?

    I’d already been studying Celtic history and tracing the roots of Celtic folklore intensively for a memoir I’d written by the time I wandered into a tiny bookshop in Glastonbury, England. Browsing the shelves, I came across a copy of a non-fiction book called Finding Merlin by Adam Ardrey and bought it on a whim. In it Ardrey presents compelling evidence that the legend of Merlin is based on a real man named Lailoken who lived in sixth-century Scotland. He wasn’t a wizard who shot magic from his fingertips. He was a politician and son of a powerful petty king. He was a warrior and an academic. This felt real to me, and I wanted to learn more. It was in Ardrey’s book I read that Lailoken had a sister – a twin. Her name was Languoreth, and she would go on to become one of the most influential women of early medieval Scotland. Tragically, she’d been almost completely forgotten. The Lost Queen.

    I began to do my own research, and the more I learned about Languoreth and the historical events she experienced in her lifetime, the more determined I became to tell her story. I was fascinated by the fact that while Merlin/Myrddin is someone we assume is a figment of myth, Languoreth can be traced with significantly more historical confidence. We find Languoreth recorded in ancient king lists as the wife of a Brythonic/Brittonic ruler named Rhydderch Hael, who scholars agree ruled from Clyde Rock in the late sixth to early seventh centuries. There are children descended from the union of Rhydderch and his wife, their names are recorded in ancient Welsh triads as well as historic genealogies. But who Languoreth truly was—and what she experienced in her lifetime as one of the most powerful women in her era—had been buried under the weight of passing centuries. I couldn’t stop thinking about this woman Languoreth and the epic times she lived through: the epic battle that tore her family apart, the Anglo-Saxon encroachment, and the first ever politico-religious acts of violence her people would have likely experienced. Moreover, in today’s world, when powerful female role models must be brought forth and honored now more than ever, I thought it a travesty that Languoreth had been written out of history, her incredible story never told.

    When I first began researching Languoreth, there was a passion that ignited me, but mostly my work was driven by a visceral sense of sadness over the difficult times in which she lived, and a great sense of injustice that her life had been forgotten. I don’t believe writers find stories. I believe stories find us. And the way in which this story found me left me with little choice as to whether or not I was going to write it. I believed it was time Languoreth stepped from the mists of history to take her place in our hearts, our minds, and our memories.

ABOUT SIGNE PIKE

SIGNE PIKE was born in born in Ithaca, NY, and graduated from Cornell University with her Bachelor of Science in Communication. 

She worked as an acquisitions editor at Random House and then Penguin, before leaving to write her first book, Faery Tale: One Woman's Search for Enchantment in a Modern World. Pike has spent the past ten years researching and writing about Celtic history, myth, folklore and tradition. Her love of history, the great outdoors, early medieval and ancient archeology, and her dedication to historical accuracy has made her social media feeds an informative delight to her readers.

Signe teaches seminars and workshops internationally on writing and publishing, as well as on folklore and tradition. Her writing has been published by SalonCharleston City Paper, Book Riot and NPR.org. She currently lives in Charleston, South Carolina, where she writes full-time.

Connect with Signe:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads


What do you think?
Does The Lost Queen sound like something you'd like to read?

And what did you think of Signe's piece on her inspiration for The Lost Queen?
Have you ever been inspired the way that Languoreth inspired Signe?

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