THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE by Samantha Shannon

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.


Title : The Priory of the Orange Tree
Author : Samantha Shannon
Format : Paperback/Audio
Page Count : 804
Genre : High Fantasy
Publisher : Bloomsbury
Release Date : February 26, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

There is so much to this book as you would imagine by the size, so much I could talk about, wax lyrical about but I’ll have to just focus in on some areas. This review is going to be more about contexts, themes and feelings rather than storyline. I wouldn’t know where to start to explain the story to you…I guess you’ll just have to read it.

If you are looking for a feminist read, this is the one for you. The characters and storyline are empowering from a feminist perspective without belittling men. However, women as leaders was a theme portrayed throughout this fantastical world and the characters of Ead, Tane and Sabran absolutely sold the show. Ead most of all was the star, quietly rising to might and yet selfless. Sabran was a character that had to grow on me and she did. I loved the connection between Tane and her companion sea dragon Nayimathun, I lived for their parts.

There were some great themes in relation to the validation or not of women through their ability to bear a child, I really appreciated that context and I’d like to see it more in literature. The romantic connections in this book were varied and there was a strong sapphic story to be told at the heart of this tale.

The story was told mainly in East and West chapters where, as a reader, you really gain a sense of the different cultures and beliefs. I came to favour one side over the other and then it all got thrown into the air. See the dragon on the front? Of course you did, but there are good and bad draconic creatures in this book, some referred to as wyrms and it took some reading to really find my way with which was which.

Like many people, I had a little trepidation about a large read like this but I was asked to join in a readalong and quickly got swept up. I would advise some intense reading for the first hundred pages or so and then you’ll find your way with the story and characters. Also do not miss the three sections at the back ‘persons of the tale’, ‘timeline’ and ‘glossary’. The persons of the tale was invaluable for me for the first few hundred pages, I referred to it numerous times. Go read this, it was an epic tale, truly enjoyable and one to remember.

Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing for the review copy and to Tandem Collective for organising the readalong.