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The Forgotten Kingdom    by Signe Pike order for
Forgotten Kingdom
by Signe Pike
Order:  USA  Can
Atria, 2020 (2020)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Forgotten Kingdom is the exciting sequel to Signe Pike's The Lost Queen, in a mystical series reminiscent of The Mists of Avalon. I had not read the first episode, but intend to do so now as the sequel was fast-paced and fascinating.

The Lost Queen introduced Princess Languoreth and her twin brother Lailoken (a warrior/druid take on the mythical Merlin) in ancient Scotland. War brought Languoreth and handsome warrior Maelgwn together, despite Languoreth's being promised to Rhydderch, son of the High King, whom she later married. As in Bernard Cornwell's excellent Saxon Tales, there is ongoing tension and conflict between Christianity and older pagan beliefs, held by both twins. The High King supports Christianity.

As The Forgotten Kingdom opens in AD 573, Languoreth's eight-year-old daughter Angharad has been sent with Lailoken to the Borderlands, training to be a Wisdom Keeper (a king's counselor) like her uncle. Angharad has a dark vision of what's ahead. Languoreth is distraught. She has been imprisoned in her chamber, while Rhydderch and their eldest son Rhys have reluctantly set off (on the order of the High King) to fight against Lailoken, Maelgwn, Uther Pendragon, and the other Dragon Warriors.

Lailoken enlists a servant, Eira (whose past she keeps secret), as nursemaid to Angharad, and they share danger together after the battle and slaughter that's soon upon them. Story threads follow Lailoken, Languoreth and Angharad in the aftermath, but Angharad's tale is the strongest. Her fate unknown to her family for many years, events send her north. There she trains as a priestess in the Orcades, Kingdom of the Picts, and meets Prince Artur of the Scots, who will clearly have a large role to play in what follows.

This episode ends in AD 580 with another great battle, with a long-awaited homecoming, and with joyous reunions. It left me anxiously awaiting what comes next.

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