In the realm of fantasy literature, epic tales of dragons, magic, and political intrigue have always held a special place in the hearts of readers. Few recent works have captured this essence as magnificently as Samantha Shannon’s masterful novel, The Priory of the Orange Tree.
This sprawling epic, published in 2019, has left an indelible mark on the fantasy genre, drawing readers into a world that unfurls like a beautifully crafted tapestry. Lately, it’s become a bit of a sensation in the fantasy world, thanks to the rise in BookTok content. Welcome to a world where dragons soar and destiny awaits – welcome to the Priory of the Orange Tree.
Table of Contents [CLICK HERE TO OPEN]
The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon
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.
The Priory of the Orange Tree is a fantasy novel that spans continents, cultures, and centuries. The narrative unfolds through multiple perspectives, providing a panoramic view of its sprawling world.
Part I: The East and the West
The story opens in the divided world of East and West. In the East, the land of Inys is threatened by the resurgence of the Nameless One, a colossal dragon imprisoned beneath the Abyss. Queen Sabran IX of Inys, a descendant of legendary dragon-slayers, must fulfill her destiny by producing an heir who can continue her bloodline’s sacred duty. She is surrounded by intrigue. Various factions soon vie for power and the secrets of dragon lore.
Meanwhile, in the West, Ead Duryan, a mage from the East posing as a lady-in-waiting, must protect Sabran from assassination attempts. Ead harbors a forbidden love for Sabran and must navigate the treacherous politics of the West.
Part II: The South and the North
In the South, Tané is a dragon-rider-in-training who dreams of soaring with the fabled Riders of the Priory of the Orange Tree. However, the Priory is not in harmony. Tané discovers the true history of dragons and must decide where her loyalties lie.
In the North, Lord Arteloth Beck is a disgraced alchemist who embarks on a journey to uncover the mysteries of dragonkind. Loth, a foreign assassin with a mysterious past, soon joins him. Together, they uncover ancient secrets and dark forces that threaten the world.
Part III: Convergence and Battle
The characters from the East and West, the South and the North, are drawn together by fate and the looming threat of the Nameless One’s return. A grand battle unfolds as dragons take to the skies, and alliances are forged in the crucible of war.
Secrets are revealed, sacrifices made, and destinies fulfilled as the characters confront their deepest fears and desires. The fate of the world hangs in the balance. The true nature of power, love, and courage is tested.
Part IV: Resolutions and New Beginnings
In the aftermath of the climactic battle, the characters must come to terms with the consequences of their choices. The world has changed, and new alliances form to ensure a more harmonious future. The novel concludes with a sense of hope, as the characters embark on new journeys, carrying with them the lessons learned from their epic quest.
“The Priory of the Orange Tree” is a masterful tapestry of fantasy storytelling, blending political intrigue, deep world-building, and compelling characters into an unforgettable epic. It explores themes of identity, love, and the enduring power of myth, making it a must-read for fans of the genre and a timeless addition to the world of fantasy literature.
The Priory of the Orange Tree stands as a testament to the enduring power of epic fantasy. In this sprawling tale, Shannon weaves a world so rich, so vast, and so intricately detailed that you will sound find yourself fully immersed in a realm of dragons, magic, and political intrigue.
At the heart of this epic is a story of destiny, love, and sacrifice. Shannon presents us with a multifaceted cast of characters, each with their own unique motivations and complexities. Queen Sabran IX, Ead Duryan, Tané, Loth, and Lord Arteloth Beck are just a few of the characters who grace the pages of this epic, and their individual journeys and growth throughout the novel are real and moving.
One of the most remarkable aspects of The Priory of the Orange Tree is its world-building. Easy to do badly, and so hard to do well. The cornerstone of any fantasy novel. Shannon has crafted a world that feels both fresh and timeless, drawing inspiration from various cultures and mythologies to create a setting that is as diverse as it is immersive. From the grandeur of Inys to the mysterious Priory. Every corner of this world feels meticulously thought out and vividly realized.
The dragons in this novel are a true marvel. Not only are they majestic and awe-inspiring creatures, but they also serve as symbolic representations of power and history. The mythology surrounding dragons, their role in the world, and the ancient secrets they guard is so interesting.
This novel boasts multiple perspectives and shifting narratives. Often, this is done in a way that can be difficult to follow. However, Shannon has made such narratives approachable and exciting. These narratives blend together so well that half-way through we forgot there were shifting narratives at all!
The Priory of the Orange Tree is not just a fantasy novel; it’s a literary masterpiece. It challenges conventions, breaks boundaries, and leaves an indelible mark on the genre. Samantha Shannon has created a world and a story that will linger in your mind long after you’ve finished. It’s a must-read for anyone who craves epic adventures, complex characters, and a touch of magic in their literary journey.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is The Priory of the Orange Tree LGBTQ?
The novel features LGBTQ+ characters and relationships that are woven into the story, contributing to the book’s diversity and inclusivity. Ead Duryan, one of the central characters, is involved in a same-sex romantic relationship in the narrative. This representation is an important aspect of the book’s appeal. This is because it reflects a more inclusive and diverse portrayal of characters and relationships.
Is The Priory of the Orange Tree a love story?
It is not solely a love story, but it does contain significant elements of romance. While the novel is primarily known for its intricate world-building, political intrigue, and exploration of themes such as power and destiny, it also delves into various romantic relationships.
How long does it take to read Priory of the Orange Tree?
On average, it should take around 14 hours total to read this book. Better prepare lots of tea and get cozy!
Is The Priory of the Orange Tree appropriate for a 14 year old?
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon is mostly a novel for adult readers. This is due to its complex themes, mature content, and the depth of its storytelling. It contains elements of violence and some explicit scenes that may not be suitable for a younger audience.
The book’s themes and content are more in line with adult or young adult fiction rather than children’s literature. It also has a lengthy page count, which can be challenging for some readers, including younger ones.
Praise for the series:
“Mesmerizing.” —Washington Post
“A timelessly relevant classic. Brilliant, diverse, feminist, subversive, thought-provoking, and masterfully told, The Priory of the Orange Tree is an absolute must-read.” —Karen Marie Moning, #1 NYT bestselling author of the Highlander and Fever series
“A brilliant, daring, and devastating jewel . . . An incredible world full of depth and danger, with characters I would follow to the ends of the earth. I’m in awe of [Shannon’s] talent.” —Victoria Aveyard, #1 NYT bestselling author of the Red Queen series
“An epic feminist fantasy perfect for fans of ‘Game of Thrones’ . . . A rich and engaging high fantasy novel that puts women and their stories front and center, The Priory of the Orange Tree will pull you into its magical world from the first page.” —Bustle
“An intricately realized and feminist fantasy . . . one might even be tempted to dub Samantha Shannon, ‘The female George R.R. Martin.” —Hypable
“This magnificent epic of queens, dragonriders, and badass secret wyrm-slaying priestesses is a tour de force, and my new absolute favorite epic fantasy.” —Laini Taylor, NYT bestselling author of the Strange the Dreamer and Daughter of Smoke and Bone series
“Spellbinding . . . extraordinary . . . A well-drawn feminist fantasy with broad appeal for fans of the epic and readers of Zen Cho, Naomi Novik, and V. E. Schwab. Highly recommended.” —Booklist, starred review
“A celebration of fantasy that melds modern ideology with classic tropes. More of these dragons, please.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“An astonishing achievement.” —Marie Brennan, award-winning author of The Memoirs of Lady Trent series
“An epic fantasy destined to be a classic.” —Kami Garcia, #1 NYT bestselling coauthor of Beautiful Creatures and author of Unbreakable
“The Platonic Ideal of a fantasy novel . . . This story of good and evil, struggle and triumph, love and loss and return is beautifully written: complex but clear, and utterly immersive. I loved this book.” —Nicola Griffith, award-winning author of Hild
“The Priory of the Orange Tree isn’t our grandfathers’ epic fantasy novel. It is a clever combination of Elizabethan England, the legend of St. George and Eastern dragon lore, with a dash of Tolkien. Shannon’s feminist saga has enough detailed world-building, breath-taking action and sweeping romance to remind epic fantasy readers of why they love the genre in the first place. Modern sensibilities integrate seamlessly with genre tropes . . . Readers will beg for a sequel.” —Shelf Awareness
“Shannon satisfyingly fills this massive standalone epic fantasy with court intrigue, travel through dangerous lands, fantastical religions, blood, love, and rhetoric.” —Publishers Weekly
“A fascinating epic fantasy set in a rich, well-developed world. Shannon has created fertile narrative ground.” —New York Journal of Books
As you turn the final pages and bid farewell to the world of Inys, remember that the magic of this book lingers long after the last word is read. It challenges conventions, celebrates diversity, and reminds us that even in the face of unimaginable darkness, there is always hope. The Priory of the Orange Tree is a literary journey that will stay with you.