The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

My husband and a close friend have been nagging me to read The Priory of the Orange Tree for ages, but I kept putting it off because of the length, over 800 pages is quite a commitment when I usually only have time to read during my daughter’s naps and for an hour or two before bed. It’s been a while since I read epic, high fantasy but I was hooked from the start and found myself reading past my bedtime most nights.

In the West, wyrms are feared and hated for bringing death and destruction, while the East worship dragons as noble and wise. Yet both have a common enemy in the most hated of all the dragons, The Nameless One, who is waking after 1000 years asleep. The Priory of the Orange Tree is set in an incredibly detailed world with its history, mythology and religions woven throughout the story.

The plot follows four characters spread across the world: Ead is a member of the clandestine Priory of the Orange Tree who has been assigned to infiltrate the court of Queen Sabran and protect her from harm; meanwhile Sabran’s childhood friend, Loth has been exiled and sent to find out what happened to Sabran’s missing father; Tane is training to become a dragon rider in the East; and the exiled alchemist, Roos, is scheming about how to exonerate and avenge himself. It’s also worth noting that I found the supporting and secondary characters every bit as nuanced and interesting as the protagonists from the witches, pirates and privateers to the knights and courtiers. The Priory of the Orange Tree is full of political intrigues, betrayals and conspiracies, but also romance, friendship and loyalty. The plot trots along before breaking into gallop in the second half where most of the action takes place as it hurtles towards the conclusion.

The Priory of the Orange Tree is a brilliant epic fantasy that I thoroughly enjoyed reading and discussing afterwards. Take care, and have a lovely week. X