The Priory of the Orange Tree, Samantha Shannon (2019)
Themes: Fantasy, Dragons, Heroics, Magic
Reading Format: Paperback
Release date: 26 Feb
I want to start by thanking Bloomsbury Publishing for sending me a review copy of this amazing beast of a book in advance of it’s release date. I was so happy to receive this at the end of 2018 and enjoyed every second of my reading experience.
This is a high fantasy, there are dragons, queendoms, battles, romances, it has everything! Coming in at just under 900 pages, this certainly is a beast of a book, but at no point was it ever boring. I love being able to get stuck into a huge book that it takes me longer to read, because then I know I’m loving my reading experience for even longer! The narrative was told from various perspectives, so we were always learning something new about the story and seeing how it would fit together. It very much felt like pieces to a puzzle and I enjoyed each character’s path. The backstory of this book is so well thought out, you can clearly see how much Samantha Shannon has poured into this. There’s a history to the characters and their lands, there are contrasting religions, it’s interesting how it does mirror off of things in our world, but makes them the stories own.
This is certainly a book for character development, I wouldn’t say there is one main character, but several. We see them all go through so many changes to become who they are by the end of the book. Characters I cared little for at the start of the book became favourites by the end. This is also littered with diversity which is really good to see, as well as fantastic female leads! I loved the ease at which the characters love who they love, this world has no objections to the gender of person you fall for and I like that.
There are too many characters to list and talk about in detail, but I really loved Ead who plays a very big role in this book. She’s fun, she’s interesting and different and she was a joy to read about. Her relationships with the other characters and who she becomes the more we learn about her, made her a very lovable character in my eyes. I also love Loth and the journey he takes and the fact that he can exist as a male within the story without being a love interest for the women.
I love that dragons are god like in this book and they can talk. Nayimathun is the main dragon we see and she is the BEST! There are some really cool scenes with her that really show these creatures in a different light. I like that these dragons make a bond with their human riders too, it adds a bit more purpose to those characters. Generally if it was a part of the book focusing on Tane and Nayimathun I was very happy, I felt a lot for both of these characters.
I can honestly say that I enjoyed this book from start to finish! Now here’s some spoilery parts, so look away if you haven’t read it yet.
The only thing I questioned when reading this book, but I can totally understand why it was done, was how easily everything fell together in the last 200 or so pages. It all seemed very convenient. And I get it, otherwise the book would have been way too long and would have become boring. But it felt a little too easy that certain characters would find each other and happen to have what the other was looking for. That was my only issue though!
I definitely got very Voldemort-esk vibes off of the Nameless One at the end. They way he was in the main character’s heads, really made me think of certain Harry Potter scenes. For such a big villain, I wanted to know more about the Nameless One, more of what he looked like, his size, why he was so feared. I felt like really he was quite an easy defeat? But I did love that final battle scene, I felt I’d been waiting the whole book for it!
Also a mention to Sabran and how far she comes. She starts the book almost ruling in the shadows of others, but within the last 100 pages or so, she really comes into her own. She stands up for herself and becomes a lot more strong willed, which instantly made me like her a lot more than I did at the start of the book. I think she needed the bad things to happen to her to become stronger and realise what it is that she truly wanted.
I send high praise to Samantha Shannon for creating such a rich and enjoyable world, can we have a movie adaptation now so I can see these dragons doing insanely awesome things??