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The Lost Queen, by Signe Pike.

August 31, 2018

The Lost Queen
The Lost Queen, by Signe Pike. Simon & Schuster, 2018.

Forthcoming September 2018

4 stars

An enjoyable saga, told with excitement and romance, set in early Scotland where those of the old faith seek to fight off Anglo Saxon and Christian invaders.

Signe Pike was born and raised in Ithaca, New York, and graduated from Cornell University located in that city.  She held acquisition positions at Random House and Penguin before devoting herself to her writing.  She continues to lead seminars and workshops on writing and publishing. Her fascination with history has led to her research focusing on the early Celts.  The Lost Queen is a result of that research.

Little is known with certainty about the early Celts. Archeology and legend are full of enticing clues, but researchers differ widely about the group’s actual history.  Pike has chosen one coherent account to follow in her book.  Her acknowledges include a long section about the novel’s historical foundations.  She is serious about being accurate in her portrayal of another time and place, but she is also willing to take what can be known and imitatively create a novel within its boundaries.  As an historian myself, I can only praise how she balances “fact” and “fiction” in writing historical fiction.  Whether or not any particular person or event is factually true, Pike’s research allows her to write about Celtic life with assurance and grace.  More importantly, she rescues figures from the past, and she is a fine storyteller.

The Lost Queen is about a strong, resourceful woman ignored by historians for being a woman on the losing side.  At the center of Pike’s book is Languoreth, the daughter of a king near Scotland’s southern border.  The book begins when Languorth is a young girl, already resisting her destiny as a woman.  While her twin brother can train to become a spiritual and military leader, she must be bartered in a marriage deal for the good of her father’s realm. She has fallen in love with a man dedicated to the Old Way, but she marries the son of a Christian king. As fighting breaks out between the traditionalists and the rising wave of Christians, she can only watch as those she loves most fight against each other.  A variety of unique characters swirl around her.  Mysticism and magic pervade the atmosphere of the mountains and castles in which the book is set.

The Lost Queen is a compelling book, and I recommend it to all readers capable of being caught up in the struggle between the old and the new.

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