What is it about?
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.
Book: The Priory of the Orange Tree | Author: Samantha Shannon | Publisher: Bloomsbury | Published: 26th February 2019 | Pages: 804 (Paperback) | Genre: Adult High Fantasy | Rep: lesbian, gay, f/f & m/m relationships | TW: blood, murder, loss of loved ones
What did I think?
I’ve been looking forward to this book for what feels like 100 years, got it immediately when it was released and then put it off for months because it’s so thick and I couldn’t commit. But. I took it on vacation with me and finally read it and cursed myself for not reading this sooner. Seriously, I loved every single page and the many, many pages were definitely worth it.
The world building in this was just… so good! The world is basically devided in the East and West & South, divided by the Abyss, a dark place on the high seas where the ultimate foe, the Nameless One, lies buried and locked, waiting to rise again. It’s been a thousand years since he has been seen, but now his followers are waking and peoplemight have to actually deal with this old nemesis again. In the East and West, people from different countries, with different backgrounds are looking for solutions. There is so much diversity race and sexuality wise. It felt very, very real. All the different places, different people and societies, things being valued.I could get lost in this world, it’s so rich and complex and beautifully written.
And the characters are complex as well. The story is told from different perspectives and all of the characters got amazing background infos, a good development and enough on page-time. What I especially enjoyed was that they all had distinct voices and none of them was similar to another. It was easy to sympathize with the characters, laugh and cry with them and just feel with them. Except for Niclays who I found to be really annoying, even though I could understand him pretty well.
I loved all the women in this book and especially how they were written. All of them are unique and powerful in their own ways, Sabran is a headstrong monarch, Ead an amazing warrior with a big heart, Tané is really ambitious with her heart in the right place, Meg is kind. And those are just some of the women. And even though not all of them were good, each and every single one of them was well written, with strengths and flaws, complex characters, a story and motives.
Another thing I enjoyed was the romance. Mainly because there wasn’t a lot of it. Yes, love was an underlying theme and especially important in Niclays’ chapters, but it wasn’t prominent or there just because fantasy can’t exist without romance. It fit into the story really well, as it is a part of life. The romances seemed also realistic and complex, with ups and downs and problems.
And all the non-human creatures! I mean, this is a book about dragons! And wyrms! With good and bad ones, those existing with air and water, the others with fire. I like the distinctions there. And OH MY GOD there were ichneumons? I have never seen an ichneumon mentioned anywhere and I was so happy? And cool birds! And stupid birds! And pretty horses! Idk, I just liked the fauna in this book, I guess?
The only bad thing about this book was that it ended. I could have read so much more about these characters. Or literally anything in this world. If you still have doubts if you should read this book or are afraid of how big it is… don’t give in to that fear and start this book. I promise you will love every single page of it.