Book review

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon


Format: eBook (Kindle)

Length: 848 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Fiction

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Date of Publishing: 26th February, 2019

Rating: 3/5 stars

With all the hype surrounding the book even before the ARC was distributed, I knew that I absolutely had to read it as soon as the book was out. With its 848 pages, it was going to be one of the largest books that I would have read in recent times and I was excited to see how I would rise to the challenge.

The Blurb

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.

The Book

The book contains every element that makes a fantasy fiction a hit among readers. It has magic and mages, queens and dragons, complicated family tree and rules of magic. I loved the fact that the main kingdom is a Queendom. As I am typing this, the in-built grammar check is pointing out that ‘Queendom’ is not a word. This makes it even more important that we make matriarchy as common a subject as patriarchy. The book is also filled with more homosexual relationships than heterosexual relationships. Although I am a big supporter of having LGBT representation in books, here it felt like the author is forcing the characters into it because that is what will get the book more popularity. It did not feel like the natural progression for some of the characters to me. However, I was really glad that same-gender marriages and couplings were such a norm in the book’s world that they could be as openly discussed in public as opposite gender couplings.

The book describes each event from various points of views. The description of the two kinds of dragons was breathtaking however I wish that certain aspects of the world were explained better. How did it come about that the eastern dragons who are regarded as Gods by the people have riders? Was there an event in history that made this a necessity? I also found quite a lot of unnecessary deaths at the beginning of the book. The deaths of Sulyard and Susa did not seem to play any part in the story development. In fact, had Susa been alive, it might have served as better motivation for Tane. Kit died too abruptly for the readers to even realise that he was dead. Although the book is peppered with deaths, none of them felt devastating for me since I had not formed a bond with any of the characters. Tane felt too wishy-washy, Sabran felt too mollycoddled in her environment, Ead felt too unrealistic and Roos felt explainably unlovable. I liked some of the minor characters like Meg and Loth. The flow of the conversation seemed jilted and forced.

For a book as long as this, I was finally beginning to be interested in the story only after about 70% of the book was completed. The complication with the Priory was predictable, as was the final battle. For all the build-up given regarding the Nameless One, he did not feature enough to be memorable. The end was abrupt and the author has left enough unsaid to validate a future second novel if she feels like it.

The Author

Samantha Shannon lives in London. She studied English Language and Literature at St. Anne’s College, Oxford. Her work has been translated into twenty-six languages. The Bone Season, the first in a seven-book series, was a New York Times bestseller and the inaugural Today Book Club selection. Film and TV rights were acquired by the Imaginarium Studios.

Her work include:

  1. The Bone Season (2013)
  2. The Mime Order (2015)
  3. The Song Rising (2017)
  4. On the Merits of Unnaturalness (2015)
  5. The Pale Dreamer (2016)
  6. The Priory of the Orange Tree (2019)

TL;DR: A book that disappointed my high expectations with its predictable and forced plot line

What are some of the books that you had been waiting to be published?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram at @the_food_and_book_life


2 thoughts on “The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon”

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