Title: The Priory of the Orange Tree
Author: Samantha Shannon
Series or Standalone?: Standalone
Publishing Date: 26 February 2019
“A world divided. A queendom without an heir. An ancient enemy awakens.
“The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction – but assassins are getting closer to her door.
“Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.
“Across the dark sea, Tané has trained to be a dragonrider since she was a child, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.
“Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.”
- character deaths
- gore and blood
- miscarriage/death of a newborn
- f/f relationship
- m/m side relationship (prior to the events of the book)
- characters coded as people of color
- a woman character dealing with depression and anxiety
So I think I’m Samantha Shannon trash now? I now have a desperate need to read the rest of her books. As someone who is just dipping their toes into adult high fantasy, The Priory of the Orange Tree was absolutely amazing.
The Priory of the Orange Tree is a political high fantasy novel that follows several characters in different parts of the world as the dreaded Nameless One (the evil dragon baddie, if there ever was one) begins to rise from its slumber to destroy the world.
First, there’s Ead, who is one of the helpers for Sabran, Queen of Inys. She is actually part of a secret mage society but is working undercover to keep the Sabran safe from harm. Then we have Loth, a Lord from Inys and one of Sabran’s closest friends. He and his friend Kit are sent to another country, where both a plague and support for the evil wyverns are rampant. However, not everything is as it seems. Niclays lives in the East, having been banished from Inys years before. When he helps a stranger hide, his sheltered life begins to crumble. Tane is a young woman who has been training her whole life to be a dragon rider, someone that protects the East with the help of the mythical god-like creatures. Things start to go awry, though, when she helps to hide a castaway she meets on the beach.
As the story unfolds, these four characters are instrumental to what happens, either making decisions that help move the world toward destruction, or further away from it. The four of them have such rich backstories — along with the other characters — and I loved learning about them. They each have their own distinct desires and motives, and they’re not all black and white. For those of you who’ve known me for a while, you know how much I love books that focus on its characters, and this is definitely one of them! Oh, and you know what’s even better? When all of these seemingly separate stories become interconnected —- it’s simply *chef’s kiss*.
Along with that, I truly believe that the writing is such a strong aspect of this book. The language used is beautiful and easy to understand. I didn’t have to strain to find out what was going on and, on top of that, the language could be very pretty and/or moving. It was accessible, and sometimes that can be hard to find in adult high fantasy.
I will say that the ending is a bit rushed for my liking, but in the grand scheme of things, I wasn’t bothered by it. The climatic battle didn’t feel all that climatic, but at the end, I still felt like The Priory of the Orange Tree is its own contained story. I think it does well as a standalone, but of course, I will always be happy with a sequel (or even a prequel!). It was a very fun world to visit, and I can’t wait to see what Shannon does next.
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