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The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
Book Name: The Priory of the Orange Tree
Author: Samantha Shannon
Publisher(s): Bloomsbury Publishing (US) Bloomsbury Circus (UK)
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperback / Audiobook / Ebook
Genre(s): Epic Fantasy
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.

Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. The Priory of the Orange Tree is a multiple perspective, epic fantasy standalone book, written by the author of The Bone Season series, Samantha Shannon. It is also one of my most anticipated books of 2019 and I am happy to report that it did not disappoint.

We follow four main character perspective: Ead, Loth, Tane and Niclays. Each of them had a distinct voice, so it was easy to keep track of the switches in perspective and each is as compelling as the last. The story is on a pretty epic in scale and the multiple perspectives allow for a wider understanding of the world and events. Although it is not equally divided between each of the four main characters, I think it was divided well in terms of the story and the changes in perspective never felt jarring.

It has a large cast of characters; all of whom are well written if a little lacking in development. It is a bit tricky keeping track of all the characters at times, but there is a list of names that you can refer back to. One minor issue I had was with the names of some of the characters. A few had more than one name. For example, one was referred to as either, Loth or Arteloth Beck—this was a little confusing, especially at the beginning when you are getting to know the characters. There are also dragons in this book, and I loved the way Shannon has written them. If you are a big fan of dragons then I would highly recommend checking this one out.

Shannon has done a fantastic job of creating a unique and vivid world. Although there was no map in the ARC, there will be a map provided in the final copies, which I think will prove really useful. Most of the characters are spread across the world, so it would be great to be able to see where they all are. I liked the fact that having them spread out, meant things are revealed about the world slowly throughout the book, as each character learns new things about it.

Court intrigue and politics play a big role as well and I really enjoyed this element. Not only is it enjoyable to read about but it also gives the reader a better understanding of the world. It is clear that Shannon has spent a lot of time devoted to creating the world and I cannot say enough good things about it. I would love to see even more in any future books.

The plot is compelling throughout the 848 pages and the pacing is good. I never felt it dragged and I wasn’t bored, even in the slower paced sections. I loved the elements of myths and how they are interpreted differently by East and West.

I will say the story unfolds a little too conveniently at times, at least it seemed that way to me. The ending in particular was quite anticlimactic. Not just in the way things progressed, but the villain was kind of disappointing. I wanted to know more about the Nameless One, mainly why he was so feared, because to me his defeat seemed quite easy. It’s built up so much over the 848 pages and then it ends pretty quickly. Maybe if this had been split into a duology there would have been more time to develop him as a villain.

Despite these issues, I loved the plot and once I started reading, I didn’t want to put it down. Romance does play a role in the story. I didn’t really have any feelings toward the romance, although it is definitely very predictable. The writing was great, and I found it very easy to settle into the flow of the story.

Overall this was a fantastic epic fantasy standalone with well written characters and a vivid world. I mainly read fantasy series, so it was refreshing to read a standalone. The size is daunting, but it is well worth checking out. I would love to see more of this world, so I hope Shannon has plans for more books set in it. If you are a big fantasy reader, then I highly recommend checking out it. If you are a fan of Samantha Shannon, then I think you will love this too.


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