The Priory of the Orange Tree
by Samantha Shannon
February 26, 2019
It’s been years since I read a long and epic Fantasy book. I was so committed to posting two reviews a week on Birdie Bookworm, I didn’t have time for anything longer than a 3-4 day read. The nice part of stepping away, no longer following a schedule, meant I’m able to take as long as I need to read one book. So that’s what I did.
I read The Priory of the Orange Tree, and didn’t care how long it took.
And it took me a long time!
It felt like The Priory of the Orange Tree was all over social media. I was seeing it on blogs, Instagram, and reviewers I look to for recommendations were all reading it it. With an open schedule, I treated myself to the hardback copy and I was sucked right in.
The Priory of the Orange Tree is a story of strong women. It’s being called feminist fiction, but don’t really think of it in that way. Sometimes I feel like when we turn books into a social statement we risk an ability to form an opinion beyond that statement. I love books about strong women. It’s why I love Lumatere Chronicles, which also features strong women as main characters. And just like Lumatere, The Priory of the Orange Tree saw all types of feminine strength, not just the strength of a warrior.
Could it be called ‘feminist’? Absolutely.
I’d prefer to call it exemplary, ideal, fiction.
Another reason I thought The Priory of the Orange Tree was ideal was in how character sexuality was included. This wasn’t an LGBT book, or a heteronormative book. It was just a story about people, and just like in life it includes girls liking girls, and boys who like boys, and some boys liking girls, and vice versa. It even included primary characters who didn’t like anyone romantically. Maybe this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I think it’s one of few books I’ve read that dealt with the complexity of sexuality with ease. It was gorgeous.
While all the characters were fantastic, there were two who really stood out while I read. The first was Sabran Berethnet, the Queen of Inys. I love characters who start out cold, but as you read and get to know them you see how their icy demeanor protects a vulnerable heart. When I started the book I struggled with Sabran. She was arrogant and demeaning, and I couldn’t stand her at all. However, as she grew closer to Ead, and we learned more about her fears, I slowly grew to love her. She was a character with depth and layers, and exceptionally well written.
The second character was Niclays Roos.
Dr. Roos was a complicated character. Throughout the story his actions were villainous, but his grief kept me connected to the story. Without giving anything away, it was Niclay’s that made me cry. It was odd because I recognized how he brought heartache’s to himself, and yet I still cared about him and wanted him to find peace.
And of course, that doesn’t mean the other characters weren’t also fabulous. Tané and her dragon were stunning. If you’re interested in Dragonriders but want something better than Eragon; The Priory of the Orange Tree is for you. Eadaz, the mage, was badass. Margret and Loth, exceptional.
Everything about The Priory of the Orange Tree was perfect.
I don’t regret the time it took to read.
It is meant to be savored.