Skip to main content

The Priory of the Orange Tree

Review

The Priory of the Orange Tree

Samantha Shannon knows how to build fantasy worlds. Her Bone Season series introduced us to a fascinating dystopian London with a clairvoyant underground syndicate that organized a paranormal institution in the heart of the city. In THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE, she introduces us to a universe full of magic and mages who are bound to intrigue-filled counts full of royal schemers in a world on the brink of war --- with dragons. Yes, dragons.

In the East, dragons are considered gods and worshipped as such. Tané has trained all her life and sacrificed everything to be a dragon rider. On the eve of her dream becoming a reality, she decides to help a stranger who washes ashore. An act that is punishable by death. A decision that will shape her future and the days to come for the world she lives in and the world outside of the East.

"THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE is political intrigue set against the backdrop of a fantasy world full of magic, mages and dragons.... Shannon’s writing and worldbuilding have grown, and I love the journey she takes us on here."

Inys has been ruled by a queen of the House of Berethnet for a thousand years, and the current unmarried queen of Inys, Sabran, needs to conceive a daughter to hold with tradition and protect her kingdom from destruction. The Nameless One, a dragon being held at bay by a queen of Inys for centuries, is stirring, and Sabran is in no way prepared for his return. She is besieged by assassins in her own court, her people are becoming skeptical of her rule, and the threat of a new war with dragonkind has everyone on edge. What Sabran doesn’t know is that her court has been infiltrated by the Priory --- a sect of mages that practice an ancient form of magic and fight dragons.

The Priory is a faction of mages loyal only to their religion. They are practitioners of a particular type of magic that flows from an orange tree in their sanctuary, which imbues them with magical gifts and strength. Ead Duryan is a mage of the Priory and a lady-in-waiting to the Inys Queen, Sabran. Ead was sent by the Priory to protect Sabran not only from the forbidden magic being used around her, but also from assassins intent on bringing down the House of Berethnet. Ead’s position and her abilities are about to be tested, along with her relationship with Sabran, by the rising of an old dragon adversary who will threaten the very core of Sabran’s rule and the current world order.

THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE is political intrigue set against the backdrop of a fantasy world full of magic, mages and dragons. It’s so easy to get lost in the novel --- all 800-plus pages of it --- and along the way, you’ll find yourself wanting even more of the story and this world. Shannon does an amazing job of building an imaginary world that feels very real and modern, with characters who tug at the heartstrings and make you want to cheer for them and yell at them to get it together. They don’t fall into typical stereotypes, and I like that Shannon lets love be love without restrictions on gender, politics and accepted norms. She has created a world that keeps expanding for the story she wants to tell and brings readers along for a fantastic ride.

If you’re a fan of Bone Season, this is definitely one for you. Shannon’s writing and worldbuilding have grown, and I love the journey she takes us on here. This is a whole new world to enjoy and savor.

Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski on March 1, 2019

The Priory of the Orange Tree
by Samantha Shannon

  • Publication Date: February 26, 2019
  • Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
  • Hardcover: 848 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1635570298
  • ISBN-13: 9781635570298