New Release Review | The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Priory Orange TreeThe Priory of the Orange Tree
by Samantha Shannon
Epic Fantasy 
Bloomsbury Publishing
February 26, 2019

About the Book: 

A 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.


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.

About Birdie

Don’t look for her in any bar, club, crazy raging party, or anywhere there may be a large gathering of strangers. She’s more likely to be found tucked into the corner of the couch watching one of her favorite shows, or preferably under a comforter with her current novel.

15 Responses

  1. I love the way you described the characters and the naturalness of how they are presented in the story. I’m glad that you loved this one. I’ve been putting it off because of the size and because of the mixed reviews, but this makes me want to read it sooner! Wonderful review 😀


      1. In this case, when I say mixed, I suppose I mean the slight difference between a 4 and a 5 star rating LOL XD Seems like a winner no matter how you look at it. Can’t wait to read it some day! 😀


      2. I hope mine does as well! Though I don’t think I’ll be getting to it anytime soon. My mind is set on reading my unread books in my library and I got about 50 of those to get through *laughsthencries* But again, so happy you enjoyed this one! Hope your next read is just as enjoyable 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Nicole

    What a great review! I haven’t had a chance to read anything of Samantha Shannon, but this is one that I’ve added to my TBR list. I can’t wait to get a chance to dive into this one!


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