This Advanced Reader’s Copy was obtained during Book Expo 2018, in which this will be an honest review in exchange for the book.
That was just insane.
I really don’t know how to write a review that will do this book justice, but I will definitely try my best :)
Name: The Priory of the Orange Tree
Author: Samantha Shannon
Release Date: February 26, 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 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.
Book Cover Comments
I love that beautiful stark yellow background with the flames blowing out of the wyvern’s mouth. Whether the colour representation is accurate, the cover is (i believe) taken from a scene in the book! It’s such a powerful and bright cover I am in love
The Actual Review
Ok I said I wasn’t going to get the final copy since I do own the ARC
g u e s s w h a t I l i e d
b ec a u s e i n e e d t h a t m ap
an d w ho c a n r e s i st a v ir t u al s ig n i ng
This is my first ever full-on adult high fantasy novel, and it didn’t disappoint me a single bit. I now know why it was one of the most sought out ARCs of 2018. Priory delivered an absolutely magnificent story and wrapped it up certainly well within 843 pages. Though it’s sad to see it end, I can see this book in no other form; it simply can’t be broken apart into two or more books, nor should the book go any further. Everything was just perfect.
The world building is INSANE! I am super in love with the combinations of the East and West, combining old tales and folklores with inspirations from certain points in histories from the World. As Samantha Shannon said somewhere, her Eastern inspirations come from Japan and China, especially Japanese folklore. As a Chinese neck-deep in Chinese and waist-deep in Japanese culture, to see these two represented throughout the world-building was absolutely stunning. The way Shannon wielded the subject of dragons (not to mention the awesome wyvern vs Eastern dragon stuff) and wove it through the story was absolutely brilliant. It makes me want to know every nook and cranny of where Shannon gets her inspiration from, and where she comes up with some of the most gorgeous names.
C l e o l i n d O n j e n y u
The plot was very well paced. As a person who cowered over pictureless books years back, it took me time and time to reduce the fear of reading even thicccc books. And I must tell you, this 800 page monster was no dissapointment. The first 200 pages or so was on world building and the build up to the beginning of the twist and turns of the plot, and then everything started kicking in the gear. The time spent in between the beginning and the end, with all the searching for answers and exploring further into Priory lore was absolutely well done, and I didn’t complain a single second about the book being boring, or if there was a chapter being wasted. Everything was important.
I loved all the minor-characters and the role they play in this book, not to mention the mythical creatures that come into play in this book, FILLED WITH DRAGONS. In Priory lore, wyverns had offsprings with all sorts of animals, and ichneumons were offsprings of wyverns and mongooses. But the thing is, depsite the ichneumon being a humongous mongoose, how can anyone resist the cuteness of a regular mongoose??
Before I go onto characters, I’m just going to put on an emphasis on lore again. The old-time lore and the origin story of how the setting of the current world came to be (especially religions and beliefs of the present characters) were super super fun to learn. All the plots and twists inserted into (perhaps) legendary figures were absolutely excellent. In which, I’d also like to mention that Shannon breaks so many of the tired and overused tropes seen in books. Things such as:
- Greatest MC actually shares her power without hesitation, does not burden herself
- Not everyone ends up being a couple
- (this is really just me but) I haven’t come across too many books where MCs are LGBT, so representation is well done <3
And breaking the damsel in distress trope of the old days. WOMEN EMPOWERMENT!
I’ll try my best to conjure something to talk about the four MCs. It must be mentioned that the girls get a lot more showtime in this book than the two boy MCs we have. And I like that.
Ead Duryan is one who originates from the South, sent to protect Queen Sabran of the West and wields the power of mages through those given by her secret society. She is instantly my favourite MC and the one I enjoyed reading the most. From the first moment she wielded her weapons to protect the Queen, I knew she was the most baddass girl I’ve read from 2019. (I mean it’s literally only halfway through January but) Her strong mind and the beliefs she held onto, and somtimes her stubborness makes her a real charm. She goes through a lot of conflicting paths and struggles, and the final path she walks down is what makes her a wonderful woman.
Tané is the baddass girl of the East who trained to be a dragonrider her whole life. Her life kind of goes into turmoil as she loses her friends to something she believed she failed at, but the reason why her perspective was so fun to read was because of the things she comes across: history, story, facts. Tané is a very important character to the series and is absolutely crucial for the sake of the world against an ancient enemy that you will meet in this book. The guilt that Tané often carries, all the way to her baddassness during fights and conversations with other characters makes me fear her.
Mysterious male MC #1 hails from the West and is BFFs with Queen Sabran. I wasn’t sure of his purpose in the beginning of the book, but as everyone’s path converges, Mr. secret over here plays a role in YOU’VE GUESSED IT, converging paths. He’s kind of the link between different characters (not on purpose in the universe), being the person who travelled to all the known countries. In the end, I much much prefer the girls’ story.
Mysterious male MC #2 hails from the West and has a thing with some sort of Sciency stuff. No spoilers. Exiled from his home country, he’s stuck in his idea of a shithole: the port country of the East, (the West despises the East. A lot.) Mr. Unknown here has a slightly more negative motive going on here, and it’s totally understandble of what he’s going through, and the last chapter he appears in lowkey broke my heart. But the choices and actions he made is what brings characters together by fate, and what weaves that magnificent ending together, perhaps.
An absolutely magnificent, high-fantasy novel, the Priory of the Orange Tree leaves you wanting for more nectar as it spins a tale of two women, one of the West and one of the East as they both face dangers of their own, learn the histories of the World, find out where they converge in the story of the awakening ancient chaos, leaving not a single damsel in distress for you to find.
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