The Priory of The Orange Tree Book Review
When people start comparing a book to Game of Thrones, you can either get sceptical or you get on board — my fellow readers, it’s time to get on board (if you haven’t already).
Okay, YES. I’m super late to the hype with this review, I’m super late in general but oh my god, this book was actually just as amazing as I heard from other reviewers. It was definitely a hyped up book with more positive than mixed reviews and I can actually see why they have mixed reviews, I can see both sides but, I still freaking loved it and boy is it gonna be hard to review it today.
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.
I don’t think I should even describe this book in any other way than it was truly an experience. I went on a crazy holiday and came back reborn from awe.
I have always been a fan of Samantha Shannon, she’s the sweetest person (yes I met her hehe) and I loved The Bone Season (need to re-read that one soon actually). From first hearing about this book when it was in development in 2017, I was pumped and when everyone started getting ARCs, I was pumped and when my bestie bought me the book because I couldn’t afford it, I cried and I was even more pumped.
Altho I’m slightly salty because the week after I finished it, the copies in my local bookstore were FLOPPY and one of my stresses while reading my copy was how stiff the book was. I was constantly petrified of breaking the spine (cause I don’t personally like doing that) and it was just so heavy, my arms hurt when I read this book lying down. You could kill someone with this beast of a book cause it’s so big.
“That is the problem with stories, child. The truth in them can never be weighed.” — Samantha Shannon
This is one of the many quotes I tabbed in this book. It’s almost hard for me to be able to explain the premise but I’ll give it a go.
So, we are introduced to two tough female protagonists from the East and West of this fantastic world. The world building in this book was phenomenal for me, there was never a point where I was confused because of how it was written. If I was confused, it’s because I was so tired and couldn’t manage to comprehend the magnitude of this beautiful world Samantha has built.
The stories involving both protagonists, Ead and Tané are based around this world’s mythology of dragons. Except that dragons aren’t really myths at all, but real. The world’s greatest threat that looms over this world is The Nameless One, a seriously bad and batshit crazy fire dragon that was supposedly defeated a thousand years ago. Ead is based in West and works magic known as Siden that comes from a tree – The Orange Tree from a Priory where she was trained as an assasin. Living in the palace and working under the unwed Queen Sabran, her powers and her real motives are secret and the court lifestyle in this book was so interesting. Quite different from other historical novels I’ve read before and it was so refreshing. Ead’s character is so strong and while she wasn’t really my favourite, her role in the overall plot and story was written so well. Her character development was immense as she starts to doubt her position when she begins to catch some feels for a character I won’t mention.
Tané was by far my favourite character in the whole book because I could simply relate to her more. She accidentally upheaves her whole career training to one day before a dragon rider in the East (water dragons that are like way nicer and cooler) when she sneaks out before the ceremony and helps a stranger trespass into the country. It was actually amazing to see how her character, one that is so irrelevant in the grand scheme of things at the beginning, develops into one that is essential for this world’s greatest threat to be extinguished. Her character and personality, in general, was so appealing to me because she’s known for and habitually shows ambition and serious determination to a fault.
The plot was driven in so many directions in this novel because not only did we get Ead and Tané’s point of views but we also got the perspective of many other side characters that created such a whole outlook on what’s going on every part of this world since it is so vast. The blurb is vague for a reason because SO much happens and unravels at the perfect pace. I never got bored while reading this, surprising since if you didn’t notice, this book is an actual beast in size at 800 pages.
Although this book is technically 6 stories from the same world, it definitely felt like one whole story that had 6 parts to it because the plot, the characters and the writing intertwined and flowed incredibly well. One of the best parts that certainly reminded me of Game of Thrones other than the dragons is the court politics and how much that seriously dictated certain actions – especially when a central character to the story is a queen. The romance throughout the book I think was just the right amount and introduced without all the annoying tropes we find so easily in other books. My favourite relationships, of course, were the platonic ones of all different varieties that showed just as much depth and emotion as the romantic ones.
Another huge part of the world building was how this book handled religion. Religion is one of the bases for this world, its countries and its mythology and directly affected many of the characters. It was personally really interesting to read these new religions and I found myself immersed instead of being put off by that.
Overall this was such an amazing book, 100% a fantasy favourite and I’m looking forward to reading more from this world if Samantha hopefully gets the chance. This review seems a little all over the place but honestly, the best thing I can say is: I highly recommend this, read it and form your own opinion on this beauty so you can understand my feelings for it right now.
What did you think of Priory if you’ve read it? Are you planning on reading this if you haven’t?
Let me know in the comments.
Until next time,