Everyone stay calm! I’m only reviewing my most anticipated read of the year. Cool cool cool. Yep. That’s happening.
Set in a crumbling Queendom and world plagued with draconic threats, The Priory of the Orange Tree follows numerous perspectives in this epic fantasy world. Seriously folks – this book could be in league with the likes of Game of Thrones and The Name of the Wind. Get on it.
This world just blew my mind. It’s complicated, covering all corners of the world varying from cultures, religions, monarchies, histories…everything is planned down to the last detail. And while that might sound overwhelming, you’re introduced to the information gradually, learning the world and its wonders while taking in the story. The attention to detail is incredible, and you can tell that not one stone is left unturned. I adore Samantha Shannon’s world building in The Bone Season – it flourishes just as much in this book.
So we’re surrounded by political threats, crumbling monarchies and of course, dragons. Already facing looming threats from every angle, would you believe me if I said it ends up becoming more intense? Well it’s true. Sure this book is a huge – a tome in its own right – but my god is it intense throughout. Daunting to behold, I soon found myself whisking through the pages. The good ol’ “just one more chapter” promise was repeated at every chapter. The stakes were raised in every scene, and I couldn’t predict where on earth the next 50 pages would take us. It got to a point where I genuinely thought I’d have to teach myself how the breathe again, I got so wrapped up in the events that I daren’t disturb my reading with something as trivial as basic human functions. As you do. It’s been a long time since a book has taken me in so intensely, and wow did this one take over my life completely. I soon forgot the length of the book, and didn’t want it to end. Because I’m greedy and apparently 800+ pages isn’t enough.
One thing I was delighted to find was how the characters very much felt like characters Samantha Shannon would write. Which makes no sense if you don’t know what I mean, so let me elaborate. I always find that Samantha Shannon’s characters are so uniquely themselves. They’re complicated, their personalities are distinct, there’s no confusing one between another. They feel real, and they are characters I always remember. THIS came across in Priory, and oh how good it felt. What’s interesting is that this doesn’t necessarily mean I like the characters – far from it. In fact, it took me at least half the book to decide an opinion on most of the characters in this one. But wow was I invested in their stories. These characters are very much within me, and I can’t stop thinking about them. They’ve left a lasting impression, and I reckon they’re here to stay.
With their stories cleverly woven together and going beyond the realms of typical fantasy stories, this is a book of epic proportions. My mind is blown by Samantha Shannon’s ability to create such an incredible story, and it’s one I’m sure to carry with me – and return to – for a long time.
A few more random notes just to end:
- There’s LGBTQ+ representation and PoC – both very much present
- Samantha Shannon’s love for etymology (the study of the origin of words) only adds to the unbelievably thorough world building
- It’s SUCH a quotable book!
- I’m still not quite sure I’ve breathed properly since
Rated 5/5 stars!
I’d also just like to quickly mention for those of you fellow northern bloggers in the UK – Samantha Shannon is going to be on a Feminist Fantasy panel at the Northern YA Literature Festival in Preston on March 16th! It sounds like it’s going to be an amazing event and I’ll definitely be going – I can’t wait!
Until next time,