Epic, sweeping, and grand.
These are the words that kept circling through my head while reading and while I sit to write my thoughts. This is the kind of world building that is so complete, so thorough, you feel like you are watching a movie play out in front of you. Everything is so dynamically explored, researched, and detailed you are simply transported back to sixth century Scotland.
This is also the dense kind of writing that needs, for me personally, to be enjoyed sporadically. Because it is so thorough and so detailed. These kind of texts can read quite slow and take a large investment from the reader. But when you feel let down by the fast, sparse writing of a majority of novels – stories like The Lost Queen are so appreciated.
Signe Pike is one hell of a writer. From page one I was immersed and knew this was going to be a grand novel with 5 star potential.
There was a small grievance for me.
The romance. It was so passionate and quite heartbreaking … but then you realize Maelgwn and Languoreth only spend a collective 4 days together. Over about 3 decades … it feels rather odd to me. While I adore a good love at first sight, soul bonded partner story – this takes insta love to another level! Truly, without exaggeration, they love at first sight.
And while we know their destiny doesn’t lie with each other from the beginning – she is The Lost Queen, not a warrior’s wife after all – it becomes a little difficult to root for them because Rydderach is so kind, so intelligent, and so loyal. Honestly I felt frustrated with Languoreth and her treatment of him. It’s hard to root for the warrior who she never sees, when the man she has is so very decent and true. Truly, it would make more sense if he wasn’t loving … because it is 6th century and he is noble blood! I don’t know of many stories of kind 6th century kings …
The time that Languoreth and Lailoken lived – the beginning of anglo-saxson migrations, holy wars, and the true beginnings of Politcal-Religious acts of violence … not to mention the most bloody civil war in Scottish history (which begins at the end of the novel) is truly fascinating in its scope. Signe Pike delivers the beginning of a trilogy that pays true homage to such an intense chapter of history. I love a good historical fiction based on real people, with real events, that leaves me researching and thinking and questioning history. True transportation, true learning – putting a face to those of the past. It is not always achieved in historical fiction, but Signe Pike nails it here.
This was truly an all-consuming, mind expanding treat of a novel that will stick with me.
And finally, can we take a moment to praise the publisher for the pronunciation guide!