NetGalley eArc Review: The Forgotten Kingdom by Signe Pike

I received this book as an eArc from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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AD 573. Imprisoned in her chamber, Languoreth awaits news in torment. Her husband and son have ridden off to wage war against her brother, Lailoken. She doesn’t yet know that her young daughter, Angharad, who was training with Lailoken to become a Wisdom Keeper, has been lost in the chaos. As one of the bloodiest battles of early medieval Scottish history scatters its survivors to the wind, Lailoken and his men must flee to exile in the mountains of the Lowlands, while nine-year-old Angharad must summon all Lailoken has taught her and follow her own destiny through the mysterious, mystical land of the Picts.

In the aftermath of the battle, old political alliances unravel, opening the way for the ambitious adherents of the new religion: Christianity. Lailoken is half-mad with battle sickness, and Languoreth must hide her allegiance to the Old Way to survive her marriage to the next Christian king of Strathclyde. Worst yet, the new King of the Angles is bent on expanding his kingdom at any cost. Now the exiled Lailoken, with the help of a young warrior named Artur, may be the only man who can bring the Christians and the pagans together to defeat the encroaching Angles. But to do so, he must claim the role that will forever transform him. He must become the man known to history as “Myrddin.”

Bitter rivalries are ignited, lost loves are found, new loves are born, and old enemies come face-to-face with their reckoning in this compellingly fresh look at one of the most enduring legends of all time.

Title: The Forgotten Kingdom
Author: Signe Pike
Genre: Historical Fiction
Page Count: 496
Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Capitalize on Your Genre

Every genre has its strengths and weaknesses. A good author knows how to utilize the strengths, compensate for the weaknesses, and break the rules with the two.

Signe Pike did a great job with The Forgotten Kingdom when it comes to utilizing the genre.

Historical fiction allows a story to take place in any time period. I find that often, the stories take place during time periods or events that we don’t fully know the truth of. We usually have hints and ideas to the events in history, but the specific story fills in a potential hole that could have happened during that time.

Pike blends historical events that we know took place, and mixes them with the fantastical tales of King Arthur.

I’m not usually a fan of the Arthurian legends, but I will admit that Pike does a great job at approaching the tale. He doesn’t directly tell the story of Arthur and the Pendragons, but we get the stories of people living in their world, and we see how the Pendragon story unfold through their eyes.


Careful with Time Skips

Books often happen over long periods of time. Some books are a collection of events that happen one after the other, and those books make sense. Most books, especially longer form books, skip over days, weeks, or even months. It’s normal for a day or two to skip by, with a sentence or an assumption of events to explain what happened.

Some times months go by in a book. I don’t find this often, but a few instances come to mind in the Wheel of Time series. The problem with time jumps like this is that if there isn’t a good explanation of events over that time, the story can start getting plot holes.

I don’t think Pike’s time skips benefit the story at all. When they occur, they make sense. They come when there would be a lull in the story, so skipping years in the future would take us to the next interesting event.

BUT, the scenes that happen after the time skips wouldn’t make sense with rational people. The characters skip years in the future, but threads of their stories are left in a time before the time skip occurs.

If they were as smart as Pike claims them to be, they wouldn’t let certain events occur, or they would have acted differently after years of living with certain knowledge.


Interweaving Stories

Different perspectives in a book are often a good thing. They give us a different viewpoint on the story, and can give us tension. One character can learn of an event, while the other perspective characters have no idea of what occurred. This gives the reader the knowledge they need to know in order to build tension for the end of the story.

Pike does a good job of giving us different perspectives of characters that are on different side of events.

Though our characters may get along with each other, the people they love and fight for don’t.

This brings a sense of tension between family members because their allies aren’t going to get along with each other, so the characters we follow are the only ones that can stop a massacre from happening.

It did feel a bit too safe at times, because I was never really worried that something bad would happen to the main characters. I do however think that there was a nice bit of tension with each character because I was never sure of what would happen next for them.


Final Thoughts

The Forgotten Kingdom was a big improvement from the previous book. It focuses less on an unrealistic love story, and gives readers a better focus on the tension and drama that comes when a family is on opposite sides of a world-changing war.

There are parts of the book that I didn’t enjoy: time skips and the unwanted romance, but there were quite a few parts of the book that made it more immersive and fascinating to read.

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