◐ Book Name: The Lost Queen
◐ Author: Signe Pike
In 6th century Scotland, twins Languoreth and Lailoken grow up to take vastly different paths in a rapidly changing world. Raised in the Old Way, Lailoken seeks his destiny as a Wisdom Keeper (or druid), while Languoreth is married off to a prince whose family has embraced Christianity. The story is told through Languoreth’s eyes as a woman whose existence is used strategically by her family to secure power and safety. She must learn wisdom and cunning to survive the intrigues of the court, even as bloodshed and riots break out between those clinging to the Old Ways and the new religion spreading across the lands. This first book in a trilogy follows Languoreth from childhood to womanhood.
◐ Review: 1/5 ⭐
I picked up this book because it came highly recommended by a bookstagrammer I used to follow, and because it was described as the historical origins of the legend of Merlin.
What I can say is, at least it was an easy read, because I did not enjoy this book at all. I didn’t hate it, but it was boring as fuck.
Languoreth is set up to be this wise, clever lady who later becomes a wise queen. Instead, she is irritating, dumb, and dull as paint. From childhood to adulthood, she makes incredibly stupid mistakes, has nearly no personality to speak of, and she is often just an observer to the more interesting happenings of the book, but not a direct player, so even events that ought to be exciting are not, because she hears of them after they’ve already passed.
In that sense, I think the narration would have been better had it been third-person, simply because nothing interesting happens with Languoreth. There is no sense of urgency. Nothing really happens until the last fourth of the book, by which time I was already so frustrated with the reading and the character that I almost didn’t even care anymore.
This book also features the absolute worst case of “love at first sight” I have ever had the displeasure of reading. Languoreth falls passionately in love with a random warrior whose memory she clings to for over a decade…because the guy was hot. Meanwhile, the prince she gets married off to is a good man who treats her well, respects her, and tries his best to protect her from the legitimate consequences of her stupid mistakes. But no, she wants that hot dude with strong arms and pretty hair who can throw a spear super far. -_-
There is a severe pacing problem with this book, and I really did not understand the point. We spend an excessive amount of time on Languoreth’s childhood and adolescence. As I said, the first 3/4s of the book is so dull I was ready to give up because nothing the reader could possibly care about even happens. It read like a chronological listing of random events. Sure, they set up the book for what happens next, but the whole book felt like just that: a long, boring set-up. It could have been condensed to about a third of what it was.
There are characters I liked, but they were grossly under-utilised. Ariane is fascinating as a female druid who abruptly leaves about halfway through. Cathan is also an interesting character who *spoiler* gets killed off. Even Elufed does not get featured nearly enough, though I would have liked to read more of her and her history.
For a book that claims to be the origin of Merlin, the actual Merlin inspiration shows up so little, he barely even makes a dent in the story. Lailoken grows up with Languoreth, then also disappears for druid training for a great portion of the book. What.
Sadly, I will be erasing this book from my memory, although when I feel up to it, I do want to read what happens next in the story. Someday when I feel less annoyed by this whole travesty.
Edit: upon second thought, I do hate this book.
What was the sense in loving if all those you cared for were taken away?
“They were the watchers in the wood, carriers of hopes and dreams. Their hollows were the keepers of secrets. Every knot and whorl marked the memory of a story so ancient, the echoes faded eons ago. And yet those stories lived on, kept safe in the circles of their rings. This is why we come to their groves, why we sing to them. Because the oaks help us to remember: who we are, who we were, where we once came from.
“We may not always have the choice we would like. But we always have a choice.”
“The heart is a bird pricked full of feathers. And each time we say good-bye to someone we love, a feather will fall. One for a friend, two for a lover, three for a child.”