The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon

We may be small, and we may be young, but we will shake the world for our beliefs.

 

Summary
A thousand years ago The Nameless One has ravaged the world. An ancestor of queen Sabran has managed to defeat him and now the only thing that keeps him binded is the House of Berethnet ruling over the queendom of Inys. To keep the world safe, Sabran has to ensure the continuity of her house, but the danger keeps getting closer and closer to her door.

Writing
This book is supposed to be “a feminist version of Lord of the Rings” and for the most part I disagree with this statement. But the writing made me think about Tolkien. A LOT. Unfortunately, for me that’s not the best thing. The world was masterfully crafted, every scene was vivid and detailed. But because of that we had to suffer through many, many pages that brought absolutely nothing to the story. I know that many people enjoy that kind of writing, but I don’t have the patience for it.

Characters
Before I start talking about the main characters, I would like to complain. I bought this book only because it was marketed as high fantasy with f/f romance. So, naturally, I would expect some f/f romance? And yeah, I got it, but in an insufficient amount. It was a very slow burn and when it finally happened they got ripped apart. And then again. And again. It definitely wasn’t a heartwarming and sweet romance I was hoping for. And they didn’t get the ending they deserved.

This story follows 4 people – Ead, Tané, Loth and Niclays.

Ead is a lady-in-waiting and a mage working undercover to protect queen Sabran. She was definitely my favourite character in this series, her storyline was the most interesting and investing. I was always looking forward to her chapters.

Tané is training to become a dragonrider. She was definitely the most disappointing part of this whole book. I enjoyed her chapters in the beginning, but they quickly became boring and I completely stopped caring.

Loth is a friend of queen Sabran, who has been exiled into a country wrecked by a plague. I know that many people love him and I completely understand why, but for me he was way too bland. Like I get it, he’s a good friend and everyone likes him. But that’s not really interesting.

Niclays is an alchemist who has been exiled by queen Sabran for failing to create for her a serum of immortality. I had a really hard time getting into his chapters at first, but over time they started to really grow on me. He’s almost an antagonist of this story, because his goals are often in opposition to the rest of the cast’s. So he was a very frustrating person to follow, but it made me really interested in his story.

Queen Sabran is also a very interesting character. We never get to see the world from her perspective, but we can observe her pretty well through the other’s eyes. Her character arc is definitely the most impressive one, I loved seeing her development. So though I couldn’t stand her in the beginning, over time she became one of my favourites.

Plot
So I guess that we all know that this book is pretty big. Though considering that it’s a standalone epic fantasy, I don’t understand why would anyone be shocked by that. My problem is, for a book this size, not a lot happens in this story. It’s very, very slow-paced. So the build-up to the climax is huge and the pay-off isn’t really there. I felt like the final battle was very short and quick. And frankly, rather disappointing.

Summary
The thing is – it’s a good book. It has everything a good book should have. But it failed to captivate me. I felt detached, because it didn’t make me care for any of the characters. And I wasn’t very interested in the story, because it was so slow-paced, that it made the stakes feel much smaller than they really were.

However, it was a very well crafted storyline. It was incredibly well thought-out and it was executed with care and precision. But I feel like it lacked the soul.

 

Content warning: miscarriage

 

4

You can find this book on Goodreads, Book Depository and Amazon

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16 thoughts on “The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon

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    1. Yeah, I am pretty disappointed. It was one of my most anticipated releases of this year. I mean, dragons and f/f romance? Sign me up! And it was really, really well crafted. Shannon is an amazing author. I just couldn’t connect with the characters. I hope you are going to enjoy this book ❤️

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  1. I kind of scoffed at someone trying to do a “feminist Lord of the Rings,” though it sounds less like replacing the original characters with females and more like trying to imitate the style. I agree, high fantasy is awesome, but if it is so slow that it inadvertently lowers the stakes and the characters don’t really draw you in, there doesn’t seem much point to reading it. On the other hand, if the details are really so lovely that they’re still kind of pleasurable…now I’m conflicted as to whether I want to read this book. How many pages was it?

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    1. It was around 800 pages. On Goodreads you will find that it’s 848, I think, but at the end of the book you can find a glossary that takes a lot of pages. It may seem like a lot, but considering that it’s a standalone, it’s not really THAT much.
      Also, this “feminist LotR” is nothing more than marketing ploy. This book and LotR have nothing in common hahah

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  2. I’ve been meaning to read this because it’s been getting a lot of buzz and there’s not enough feminist epic fantasy out there, but I appreciate your review because your quibbles with the book are the same sorts of things that can turn me off from a book. I am tempering my expectations accordingly.

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    1. I hope you are going to enjoy this book. And lowering your expectations is probably a good idea. I think I would like it more if mine were a little lower, but the hype got to me. Still, I think it’s a very good book.

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  3. I’ve been meaning to read this one for a while but keep holding back. I feel like I will have a similar feel to it as you did – I’m not big on long lengthy pages of description. Thanks for the review, very helpful! 😘

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    1. I had really big expectations and that’s probably why I ended up feeling disappointed. Still, it’s a very unique strony. Let me know if you decide to start it. I would love to know your thoughts 😊

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        1. Oh, yes. If I started my journey with fantasy with LOTR I am pretty sure I wouldnt love it as much as do. Maybe I would even give up on this genre. But I am not a big fan of Tolkien’s books. I respect them, but I don’t like them 🙊

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