The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

*Spoiler free*

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 all her life to be a dragonrider, 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.

I was hooked on this book when I heard it was about a Queendom and ancient enemies awakening. It’s said it be an epic high fantasy novel about dragons. And boy oh boy does that sound right up my alley.

This story is seeped in legend, which contributes to it’s significant length (over 800 pages!). There are also long and complicated titles for lots of people, which was jarring at first. When you pull back all the legends and fancy names, you are left with a pretty basic story. I think I was expecting explosive epicness about this story and it just simply wasn’t that. It has a quieter magic about it, a magic that isn’t rooted in battles and sword fighting. It’s a magic that you don’t quite realize is there until you finish.

This book was an adventure to read. With the length, you really, really get to know the characters. I fell in love with them so fully and that is a part of why I love this book so much, even though it wasn’t what I was expecting. I will miss Ead and Sabran and Tané so much.

Something that bothered me was how straightforward the story felt. Again, I was expecting explosive epicness, so this could stem from that. There were no crazy twists and I just felt like everything moved from one event to another, in a completely straight forward way, for the entire book. I just felt that there were times when something could have happened, and it just didn’t. There were things that happened that felt off and then there were things that didn’t happen that I was hoping would.

It felt like things were leading up to a big event, then it would happen and things would peter off. Then it would start to build up for the next event. It was a weird sort of stop – start. And then the BIG event at the end of the book? That completely fell flat for me. It was hard for me visualize it and it just didn’t feel like it was the thing that the whole book was working towards. It was just there and I felt like it took to long to get to that place.

The passage of time was something that was another thing that was off for me. I never truly felt it passing, even though big chunks of time where and I found myself feeling kind of lost in the timeline.

Although I had problems with this book, I still can’t help thinking about how amazing it was. It was written so beautifully and they way it was written completely saved it for me. Samantha Shannon has a way with words, that’s for sure. It’s a story that sticks with you, it’s a world that is so incredible and so beautiful.

Looking back, the world building really was something to admire. There is so much going on and so many politics and little things that make everything tick. It’s so amazing, because I think if one thing was out of place, this entire world would come crashing down. Just take me Inys please.

One thing that I really loved was the female camaraderie. Female strength is there from the very first page, but I took awhile for me to see them work together. But when I did… damn. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever read.

In the end, I am glad I took the journey that is this book. I am so glad to have met the characters and experienced this world. While this is a stand-alone, I would love to see more stories from different parts and times of this world. There is so much there, it is almost bursting at the seams. I’d love to take another adventure.


A pre-order link if you would like to start the journey as well. Thank you for reading!

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