|| Book Review || The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon ||
Genre: Fantasy, Dragons
Age category: Adult
Release Date: February 26th 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.
Holy mother of dragons, I just can’t believe I finally read this. I can’t believe it’s over!
This book has been on my TBR for a long time, those of you who have been following me for a while will have seen it on my pile every month since January and I just seemed to keep putting it off. I tried to listen to the audiobook in April and that was just not working for me at all, I could not get into it and ended up giving up at around the 30% mark.
I really wanted to try again with a physical copy because I had the feeling that my issue with it was not with the book as such but more with the sheer size and scope of the world. I struggled to follow and understand it all as an audiobook.
I managed to pick up this beast from the library this month and yes this is a fat book! It will hurt if you drop it on your toes, so don’t try to read it standing up or walking around (trust me, ouch!)
So this time around I mostly read the physical but I did listen to a few chapters on walks with my dog and it was a lot easier to understand what was going on after I had already read a good chunk of it so that was definitely the problem! The audiobook is actually very well narrated and I think if you have read the book before you would really enjoy listening to it!
I have so many good things to say about this book… I was completely absorbed by the world, the characters, the magic, the dragons… it was epic.
At the 500 page mark I literally abandoned responsibilities and just sat and read as much as I could because I NEEDED to finish it.
It is full of political and court intrigue, religion, magic, violence, shocks, death, twists, turns, history, DRAGONS! Need I go on?
The world Shannon built here is vast and incredibly detailed with so much history. The research and thought that must have gone into creating this is immense and I can only applaud.
The characters were hit and miss for me. My favourite character was Ead Duryian, a mage from the Priory who has fire magic. She is sent to the court of Sebran IX as an undercover bodyguard. During her 8 years at court she rises from the ranks of chamberer to lady of the bedchamber and slowly edges closer to Sebran and builds a beautiful relationship with her.
Sebran is a bit of a brat sometimes and I swung from really disliking her to actually liking her quite a lot. Ead brings out the best in her and I really sympathise with her for all she had to endure for her Queendom and beliefs.
Arteloth Beck is another favourite of mine and I would have loved to see a relationship blossom for him as he was so lovely and genuine.
Finally I would just mention Tané, an Eastern orphan who trains to become a Dragon rider. Tané plays a huge part in the overall story but I found her really difficult to like or relate/connect with. Everything she did and said just seemed to annoy me. I don’t know why.
Religion plays a big part in this story and the history of religion in different parts of the world. I really enjoyed learning about it all and I found the way the people of the East and West feared each other through a lack of understanding to be really interesting to read about.
The big baddie of the story is The Nameless One… a huge fire breathing dragon (wyrm) who has been asleep for 1000 years but is about the awaken and wreak havoc upon the world. This brings us to the dragons of course… there are two types of dragons. The “fire breathers” and the water dragons of the East who are revered as gods.
The westerners do not understand the dragons of the East and fear them as wyrms and declare the Easterners to be heretics and wyrm worshippers and so for the two continents to be required to work together to conquer a common enemy is really interesting and I love the way that it was done and the way that all the characters tied in with each other.
I had one issue with this book and although it did not take away from my overall enjoyment of the book it was a pretty big issue and that is with the final battle against the nameless one. It felt like we had this huge book, we read 750 pages of history and development and then the battle happens and is over in less than 50 pages. It felt like it was over too quickly, too easily and all felt a bit anticlimactic to me and that was a big disappointment.
It was still a fantastic read though with a great story, great characters and relationships and a really cool magic system. Also there are dragons. I mentioned that right? I would recommend and would love to read more from this author and this world!