The Lost Queen by Signe Pike
Published: September 2018
Genre: historical fiction
Intelligent, passionate, rebellious, brave, and 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 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.
Languoreth is a sixth-century queen of Scotland and twin to Lailoken, whom history later knows as Merlin. The two have a bond unlike any other, and while both have druid gifts, Languoreth uses hers for healing and political alliances while Lailoken uses his for strategy, battle, and preservation of the Old Way. But as Christianity comes to head in their land, sweeping across the country and stirring up violent trouble, Languoreth must navigate difficult waters and ensure the world remembers her brother for the warrior he truly is.
This was one of the most interesting and potentially historically accurate pieces of fiction in the Merlin tale. We’ve all been led to believe the King Arthur lore originated in Wales, and historians and academics keep finding potential ties to true men in English and Welsh medieval history who may fit the bill. But this book, and the wealth of research behind it backing this up (I know Wiki is not a true source, but seriously, a simple search there only confirms Pike’s extensive research further!), will blow your mind. Searching for Arthur isn’t the answer––it’s searching for Merlin, or Myrddin (“mad man”), which was the obscured name for a man known as Lailoken. Lailoken had a twin sister, Languoreth, whose children also appear in Arthurian lore. And all those big historical Scottish battles also appear in Arthurian lore, and happened during the twins’ childhood, teen, and adult years. It all adds pretty well together.
My mind was blown historically, and I’m eager to see Pike’s next book in the trilogy (I have some guesses as to which character in Arthurian legend she’ll tackle next). The language is appropriately medieval in tone, and at times the novel felt like it was dragging––but I kept reading, and I’m glad I did. This is Languoreth’s story, a forgotten strong queen in Scottish history, and it deserves a read. This is Camelot meets Outlander in terms of historical depth and mystical elements, and I would definitely encourage you to crack it open and sink into the mythology that is history!