The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon [Extract Review]
This review is my first impression based on the first seven chapters that I was able to read in the early extract.
About the Book
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing | Release Date: February 26, 2019 | Pages: 848
Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Epic Fantasy | Format: eARC | Source: Publisher via Netgalley
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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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 novel 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.
“All the world is a cage in a young girl’s eyes.”
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 a fantasy world 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 world-building 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.
Let’s go on another adventure together!