Title: The Priory of the Orange Tree
Author: Samantha Shannon
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Page Count: 848
Publication Date: 2019
Category/Genre: Fiction, Adult Fiction, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Romance, Dragons, LGBTQ, Magic
Good Reads Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.23)
My Rating: ★★★★★ (5)
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 to be a dragonrider since she was a child, 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.
This was simply a masterpiece, a stunning and feminist high-fantasy that made me completely fall in love.
There are so many moving parts to this novel but Shannon threads and weaves them together seamlessly. The web of relationships and histories that span centuries, continents, and religions affect each of the characters and their decisions.
All of the characters in this novel are well developed and undergo various transformations in their narrow views and experiences to accept a more broadened perspective. The women in this book are strong, powerful, and driven. They are queens, warriors, and pirates. They are fierce and it is on them to save the world.
“No woman should be made to fear that she was not enough.”
This is a majestic read, interlaced with a love story and infused with witchcraft, dragons, lore, and politics. Each character battles not only the external threats but the internal ones including self-doubt, the foundation of their belief systems, and priorities.
The first 200 or so pages are a slow burn. We are introduced to characters, nations, history, and belief systems. It is after that, starting right with Part II where everything changes, and everything changes in a whirlwind and flurry and never slows down. The last 50 pages or so is where the highly anticipated battle takes place but that just proves how much of this book is about the journey and not the destination.
It is a chunky read but don’t let that deter you from picking it up. I highly recommend it to any reader that loves fantasy and strong women.