The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon [Extract Review]

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This review is my first impressions based on the first seven chapters that I was able to read in the early extract.


“All the world is a cage in a young girl’s eyes.”

I have been anxiously waiting for the publication of The Priory of the Orange Tree since it was first announced, and I am super excited to have gotten an opportunity to read the early exclusive extract (which is the first 7 chapters of the book)! I love adult fantasy, and once I learned that this was a standalone with dragons, I knew it was a book that I needed to read! While this was not the effortless fantasy read that I was hoping for, I am still really interested in reading the full book.

I found the opening chapters to be lyrically written and instantly engaging. It was largely plot driven with the anxiety and fear of the unknown outsider’s appearance, and the worldbuilding trickled in slowly. But after the first chapter I started getting increasingly more confused as more characters and perspectives were introduced. It took me quite some time to even realize there was a perspective and country shift, and it took me until about 50% or so to settle into the narrative style and really understand what was going on. This is definitely a “me issue” because I often struggle with multiple POVs, and unfortunately for me the eARC formatting really exacerbated my confusion for this one. (Again, I read an early extract and there often are significant changes made prior to final publication; the MOBI formatting issues are not something that will be present in the final book.)

“Reading is a dangerous pastime […] there is great power in stories.”

Once I settled into the narrative style and understood how the story and intricacies were being revealed, I was really intrigued by the story as it unfolded. By the time that I got to chapter 7 (the last in the extract), I was hungry for more and the action was really about to begin. I feel like as a reader I was thrown into the deep end straight away, which is never my favorite when it comes to being introduced into fantasy worlds.

The Priory of the Orange Tree, based on what I read, is a difficult book to get into but I think that patience will be rewarded with this one! It is obvious that Shannon spent a lot of time crafting an intricate world with hundreds of years of history, politics, and religious clashes, so there is a lot to take in. I am definitely a lot more invested in the Niclays and Sulyard perspective and learning more about what will unfold there. I can tell that this book will be feminist and I am really excited to read the full book upon release!


Recommended for: if you are a lover of dragons and effortlessly built fantasy worlds that has a vast history of politics and religious clashes, this book will be for you! Standing at 848 pages, this standalone adult fantasy promises a lot of adventure and political intrigue to those that exercise patience with the worldbuilding in the first few chapters.

Many thanks to the publisher for sending me an eARC for review. Quotations are taken from an uncorrected proof and may change upon publication. The Priory of the Orange Tree will be available in the US on February 26, 2019!

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha ShannonA 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 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.


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Hi! I’m Kaleena: book lover, runner, wanderer, and philanthropist. Life is an adventurous gift: through the outdoors and books. I run Reader Voracious Blog, where I post spoiler-free book reviews of science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction, and mystery & thriller.

51 thoughts on “The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon [Extract Review]

    1. I can’t wait for the full tome to be in my hands!!! I am really glad I stuck with it too, I was really confused and almost gave up; but reading the extract also solidified my pre-ordering the book because I was on the fence. SOOOOONNNN!

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  1. 848 pages! 😮 To be honest, though, there’s been a lot of books lately that I feel have been rewarding patience (which I have little depending on the mood and day), so it’s good to have the warning beforehand (if I ever read adult fantasy)! I also find myself confused with multiple POVs usually (though I’m trying to get better?) and added on top of the horrifying formatting, I would be confused as well. It’s like the extract is trying to force you to fraction (hehehe get the reference) – here’s multiple POVs! here’s a country shift! hey, guess what, the formatting sucks and now you have to decipher me!

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    1. Honestly when I saw the book was 848 pages long, I pulled it off my TBR. *hangs head in shame* I just am so afraid of long books! But then my friend reminded me that it is a standalone, and you know what? That’s better than reading 3-7 books in a 300+ page per book series. The good thing is I think the patience payoff comes fairly early, and I like the idea of being in a world for 850 pages! The formatting though I could have done without – looking forward to reading my print copy!

      Soph, a+++ TCD reference! And you are right! Had I been able to fraction I probably would have been better off!

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  2. This sounds like such an intriguing book, I’ve heard a little bit about it so far and it was only good things, so I really hope you’ll end up loving it 🙂 I feel like these kind of big books might take a bit of time to get accustomed to, but once you’re into that world, you’re never leaving it and loving it haha 🙂 Wonderful review! 🙂

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    1. I am really excited about this book! I was really hesitant about it because of its length – it feels like SUCH A COMMITMENT – but with it being a standalone fantasy, I love the idea of just getting to be sucked into the world for a long while. and no cliffhangers?!?!!? Sign me up! Thank you so much, Marie!

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  3. I feel your pain, I too struggle with last casts of characters and multiple POVs. Sometimes I get thrown right out of the story because at each chapter break I have to remember to get into someone else’s head. Sounds like the e-book formatting may have been a bit wonky as well, and that’s never fun.

    ok, so note to self: Self, buy this in print. psych yourself up to keep track of a large cast.

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    1. I don’t know why I struggle so much with multiple POVs! Every time there is more than 2-3, I swear my mind gets so mixed up! This is definitely a me thing though, and I know so many people that love lots of perspectives. I am hoping I won’t have as much trouble with my physical copy; I am sure the final ebook won’t be as wonky as my ARC was but that was a time.

      I hope you enjoy the book when you dive in… and I am going to be making a little like Cast & Country guide for myself as I read along. Maybe I will post it on the blog??? I wonder if people would like a glossary like that?

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      1. three people seems to be my limit, and i think it is a “me” thing too!

        heck yeah do a cast and country glossary! It’ll be a great resource to readers who are feeling a little lost.

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  4. You and I shared our laments about this kindle extract but like you, after I got into the flow it, I was super glad I read it and I preordered the day after finishing it. It did take me a tick to be like ‘wait, we switched perspectives’ lol. I think this is going to be absolutely gorgeous and it’s high time we had a female put in the mainstream spotlight like G.R.R. Martin for GoT!

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    1. Honestly I was SO GLAD you and Sam chimed in that you struggled with the formatting of the extract, because until then I was literally convinced it was just me! Knowing it got better once you settled in is in large part why I stuck with it, and I am so glad I did because I wound up pre-ordering the book after finishing the extract! Can’t wait to read the full book! SOON!

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  5. I have seen this book everywhere, but this is the first time I’ve actually read something that shows what it’s about. It sounds really good!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know what you mean, I honestly had de-prioritized it on my TBR when I found out how long it was. Which was why I am so glad I got to read the extract, because I think it will be AWESOME to have a standalone and get to be in the world for a good time, without cliffhangers. But yea, summer may be a good time so you can focus!

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    1. I hear you with commitment issues & long books… when I found out the length I kind of bumped this book down my priority list and decided not to preorder it. But then I read the extract and preordered it. Hah! It may take a long time for me to be in the mood to pick it up, but I am looking forward to it. If you do the audio, let me know what you think!

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  6. I preordered this right away when illumicrate announced that they would have signed copies.
    I love fantasy and there aren’t enough books with dragon!!
    I already anticipated that it wouldn’t be the easiest to get into, but I’m still so hyped for it. And it takes me a while too to get into the multiple POVs (it took me embarrassingly long to notice that eddard and Ned are the same person in asoiaf..) but then I love it!

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    1. Ooh that’s exciting about Illumicrate having signed copies, I am jealous! I am hoping to catch her on tour or something.
      and I totally agree, I NEED MORE DRAGONS! And more fantasy standalones!

      I am glad to not be the only one to struggle with multiple POVs. I swear I read like a chapter before I realized I was in a new country with new people lolol.

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  7. Beautiful writing, as always.
    As interested as I am in this book, it is screaming commitment issues at me like other people have mentioned. I would have to be like, 10 books ahead on my reading goal for the year for me to start reading this because it would probably take me a while to get through with how many life distractions I have. That, or be on work haitus. Maybe 2020 will be the year of the monster books. I’ll have to ponder. But I can’t wait to read your full review on this!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, that means a lot to me!
      I feel you on the commitment issues, I almost decided to skip this book as well because of it’s length. BUT for me I am thinking it would be nice to have a standalone fantasy with good worldbuilding, and if I read 100 pages a day or so alongside other books, it won’t feel too much like a time hog. I get distracted a lot, too.

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