Title: The Priory of the Orange Tree
Series: The Roots of Chaos #1
Author: Samantha Shannon
Genre/Themes: High Fantasy, Dragons, Love, Power, Secret Societies, LGBTQ+
Blurb from Goodreads
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.
I finished a high fantasy tome….
Me. A person who swears she hates high fantasy.
And more surprisingly… I REALLY ENJOYED IT!!!!
Okay, so the story took an age to get going and really the characters aren’t all that brilliantly drawn and it’s quite confusing to remember who exactly is who because there’s a cast of thousands in this book (okay maybe not technically thousands but there are a shedload).
I had a blast!!!
I’m guessing if you’re a big fantasy reader this might feel a little too similar to books you’ve read previously… I mean the book tried to twist and surprise the reader but ultimately it was rather formulaic even to this non-fantasy lover.
And the characters…
I didn’t really empathise that much with the ones I was supposed to feel for, never truly felt any great connection to them… And that was definitely down to a case of being told how and what the characters were thinking and feeling rather than really being shown authentic emotion.
But I still liked the characters!!! Ead was by far and away my favourite. WOW DID SHE KICK BUTT!!! I loved how selfless and loyal she was.
And oh my god I SHIP HER AND SABRAN SO FREAKING MUCH!!! Their relationship was just *happy sighs*… The way they both put the needs and happiness of others ahead of their own and just… I CRY FOR THEM. THEY ARE PERFECTION!!
Tane was an interesting character to read about too. I actually wanted to see more of her story on the page because I feel she had this amazing potential that wasn’t quite fulfilled. I loved her connection with the dragons, and how she had this almost shame she had to overcome..but yeah…I NEEDED MORE TANE!!!
Dr Roos… Ah I don’t know. I really wanted to love him and feel great empathy for him and his tragic love affair BUT IT WAS TOLD RATHER THAN SHOWN AND GAHHHHH I NEEDED MORE EMOTION!!!!
I did love the writing though. It felt researched. I truly could see the thought that had gone into the tiny details in creating this faux historical world and you know….
DRAGONS!!!!! Who doesn’t freaking love dragons?!?!?!?!?!?!?
If I’m honest I would have liked more about the dragons. I thought there was definitely a missed opportunity to have more on-the-page dragon characters.
But otherwise yes. The world building itself was just freaking flawless. The stories of tree, the priory, the legends, the fates… Everything just wove together beautifully and I loved it. Love love loved it.
And I love that this is (originally pitched as) a standalone. It’s the reason I picked this up. I hate books that go on for years and years and years and years…..
Although I wouldn’t be surprised if Samantha Shannon revisited this world in books to come but this particular book has a proper ending here.
All in all I really enjoyed this read. The Priory of the Orange Tree probably deserves a three star rating for its slow pace, for its underdeveloped characters, and its predictably clichéd schmaltz-fest of an ending, BUT I’m giving it four stars because I had a fabulous time reading it!
Note: My spidey-sense was definitely tuned in when I read The Priory of the Orange Tree back in 2019 because Samantha Shannon has announced that she has written a stand-alone sequel set in the same universe called A Day of Fallen Night to be published in 2023.
Other Works by Samantha Shannon I’ve Reviewed
- Because You Love to Hate Me (contributing author)