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

(Last Updated On: June 17, 2019)

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

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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My Review

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. 

spacer_wLet’s go on another adventure together!


  1. thebookreaderroo

    February 24, 2019 at 9:57 AM

    I’m so excited for this book, good work sticking with the extract, bad formatting is a pain! 2 more days!!!! Ahhh!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      February 25, 2019 at 10:28 AM

      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!

      1. thebookreaderroo

        February 25, 2019 at 10:40 AM

        I’m hoping tomorrow!!! They took the money today!!! Ahhh! So exciting!

  2. Sophia (Bookwyrming Thoughts)

    February 24, 2019 at 10:10 AM

    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!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      February 25, 2019 at 10:33 AM

      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!

  3. thebloggerandthegeek

    February 24, 2019 at 10:29 AM

    Two more days!!! I’ve been DYING to read this beauty and by the sound of it, it will be an amazing ride! 💕

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      February 25, 2019 at 10:35 AM

      SOON SO SOON! My book will ship tomorrow! I am really looking forward to holding the full, finished copy in my hands later this week and reading it.

  4. Marie

    February 24, 2019 at 10:54 AM

    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! 🙂

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      February 25, 2019 at 10:40 AM

      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!

      1. Marie

        February 26, 2019 at 10:25 AM

        Ugh I get that, long books always scare me for that exact reason, THE COMMITMENT haha, but YES if the world is so well done! <3

  5. Redhead

    February 24, 2019 at 12:21 PM

    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.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      February 25, 2019 at 10:46 AM

      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?

      1. Redhead

        February 25, 2019 at 4:15 PM

        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.

        1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

          February 26, 2019 at 8:57 AM

          Glad I am not the only one!!!

          And YESSS I think I will! That will be super fun, I think. Thanks for the encouragement.

  6. TheCaffeinatedReader

    February 24, 2019 at 12:58 PM

    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!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      February 25, 2019 at 10:49 AM

      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!

      1. TheCaffeinatedReader

        February 26, 2019 at 7:46 AM

        I was excited to pre-order but it won’t get to me until next week and I’m just like ‘WHYYYYY’ lol, I can tell I’m going to fangirl over this hardcore lol

        1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

          February 26, 2019 at 9:04 AM

          This is a super mood, Haley. I got shipping notification yesterday but it won’t arrive until Friday??? I am hoping it gets here faster than the initial estimation. maybe we can try to buddy read!

          1. TheCaffeinatedReader

            February 26, 2019 at 2:46 PM

            Ooooh that would be fun 🙂 !!!

  7. Rae

    February 24, 2019 at 1:46 PM

    So excited to read this book. 😍

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      February 25, 2019 at 10:49 AM

      Me too, I need my pre-order to arrive ASAP!

  8. Jules_Writes

    February 24, 2019 at 1:49 PM

    I can’t wait for my pre-order 😀

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      February 25, 2019 at 10:50 AM

      Me too, I can’t wait to hold the tome in my own two hands (and do some bicep curls)!

  9. Phantom Paper

    February 24, 2019 at 2:31 PM

    I thought I was interested in this but I don’t think high fantasy’s my thing…possibly. Awesome review!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      February 25, 2019 at 10:51 AM

      Awww, well I am glad I possibly saved you from something that wouldn’t be for you! Maybe wait until I get a chance to read & review the full book before making a decision?

      1. Phantom Paper

        March 3, 2019 at 3:47 AM

        Oh, I DO look forward to your review! Even if I’m most likely not gonna buy it(outta my budget and I’m beginning to think I don’t dig high fantasy).

  10. Justine @ Bookish Wisps

    February 24, 2019 at 3:37 PM

    We’re just a few days away! I am looking forward for this book as well ❤❤

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      February 25, 2019 at 10:52 AM

      *screaming from the rooftops* SOOOOOONNNNNNN!

  11. Amanda @ Between the Shelves

    February 24, 2019 at 4:59 PM

    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!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      February 25, 2019 at 10:53 AM

      I know what you mean, pictures of this book have been all over the place but I haven’t really seen anyone talking about the book itself yet. I am really excited to read the full book now.

  12. Never Not Reading

    February 24, 2019 at 7:51 PM

    Oooo, REALLY looking forward to reading this one! I hear so many great things!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      February 25, 2019 at 10:53 AM

      SOON! It will be out in the world tomorrow and my body is so ready!

      1. Never Not Reading

        February 26, 2019 at 5:39 PM

        I am SOOOO READY! I just hear it’s kind of long, so I’m not sure when I’m going to be able to get to it. :/

  13. Kelly | Another Book in the Wall

    February 25, 2019 at 12:07 AM

    I need this book in my life, but I’m not sure if I have the patience to read 848 pages. haha! Perhaps this will be a book that I tackle during the summer when classes are over! Lovely review, Kal! 💕

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      February 25, 2019 at 10:55 AM

      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!

  14. The Television Tag – Siobhan's Novelties

    February 25, 2019 at 5:25 AM

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  15. waytoofantasy

    February 25, 2019 at 10:00 AM

    I am really looking forward to this one too but am thinking it may be an audio book for me. Idk. It’s just so long and I have commitment issues with longer books sometimes 😂😂

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      February 25, 2019 at 10:59 AM

      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!

      1. waytoofantasy

        February 25, 2019 at 1:32 PM

        Hah! I’ll let you know for sure. 🙂

  16. Papertea and Bookflowers

    February 25, 2019 at 10:45 AM

    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!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      February 25, 2019 at 11:02 AM

      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.

  17. singerofstories

    February 25, 2019 at 8:11 PM

    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!!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      February 26, 2019 at 8:59 AM

      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.

  18. La Femme Livresque | A Reader To Whatever End

    February 25, 2019 at 8:55 PM

    Lovely extract review! I’m dying to read this book – several of my fellow bookstagrammers received ARCs of this one and they flew through it and loved it so much! I pre-ordered it right away. I should have it in by tomorrow.. ☺️

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      February 26, 2019 at 9:01 AM

      Thank you so much, and my copy shipped yesterday! I am hoping to get it by tomorrow so I can dive in.

  19. Fran @ The Ramblebee

    February 26, 2019 at 6:20 AM

    I hope my library gets this one soon so I can finally read it!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      February 26, 2019 at 9:02 AM

      Crossing my fingers for you!

  20. Book Rambler

    February 26, 2019 at 7:17 AM

    I had similar problems with the extract but after reading the entire 800+ pages of The Priory,I can say that I’m a fan.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      February 26, 2019 at 9:03 AM

      OMG that is so exciting! I knew once I got to chapter 6 that this was a book for me, and I am really glad you liked the full book!

  21. February in Review – Reader Voracious Blog

    March 3, 2019 at 9:00 AM

    […] [ARC Extract] The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon: this extract was a mess to read, I am going to be honest. The formatting was horrible and made for the multiple Povs of this book to be even more confusing for me (and I don’t need help struggling with multiple POVs, thank you). The good news is that once I settled into the narrative, I was hooked! Standalone fantasy is hard to come by, and the extract actually encouraged me to pre-order the tome and I cannot wait to read the full book! | 📖 Read my extract review […]

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