The Priory of the Orange Tree / Samantha Shannon

Title / The Priory of the Orange Tree
Author / Samantha Shannon
Publication Date / February 2019
Series or standalone / Standalone
Page no. / 848
Overall Rating / ★★★★


Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This is a multiple perspective, epic fantasy standalone book, written by the author of the Bone Season series, Samantha Shannon. It is 848 pages long and was released in February 2019. This is one of my most anticipated books of this year and I am happy to report that it did not disappoint.
In this book, we follow four main character perspective; Ead, Loth, Tane and Niclays. Each of them had a distinct voice, so it was easy to keep track of the switches in perspective and each is as compelling as the last. This book is pretty epic in scale and the multiple perspectives allow for a wider understanding of the world and events. Although the story is not equally divided between each of the four main characters, I think it was divided well in terms of the story and the changes in perspective never felt jarring. This book has a large cast of characters; all of whom are well written if a little lacking in development. It is a bit tricky keeping track of all the characters at times, but there is a list of characters that you can refer back to. One minor issue I had was with the names of some of the characters. A few had more than one name and would be referred to as either, for example Loth is also referred to as Arteloth Beck – this was a little confusing, especially at the beginning when you are getting to know the characters. There are dragons in this book, and I loved the way Shannon has written them. If you are a big fan of dragons then I would highly recommend checking this one out.
One of the main strengths of this book was the world building. Shannon has done a fantastic job at creating a unique and vivid world. Although there was no map in the ARC, there will be a map provided in the final copies, which I think will prove really useful. Most of the characters are spread across the world, so it would be great to be able to see where they all are. I liked that this also meant that things are revealed about the world slowly throughout the book, as each character learns new things about it. Court intrigue and politics play a big role in this book and I really enjoyed this element. Not only is it enjoyable to read about but it also gives the reader a better understanding of the world. It is clear that Shannon has spent a lot of time devoted to creating this world and I cannot say enough good things about it. I would love to see more of this world in any future books.
The last thing I am going to mention is the plot. Generally speaking the plot is compelling throughout the 848 pages and the pacing is good. I never felt it dragged and I wasn’t bored, even in the slower paced sections. I loved the elements of myths in this book and how it is interpreted differently by East and West. I will say that the story unfolds a little too conveniently at times, at least it seemed that way to me. The ending in particular was quite anticlimactic. Not just in the way things progressed, but the villain was kind of disappointing. I wanted to know more about the Nameless ONe, mainly why he was so feared, because to me his defeat seemed quite easy. It’s built up so much over the 848 pages and then it ends pretty quickly. Maybe if this had been split into a duology there would have been more time to develop him as a villain. Despite these issues, I loved the plot of this book and once I started reading, I didn’t want to put it down. Romance does play a role in the story. I didn’t really have any feelings toward the romance, although it is definitely very predictable. The writing was great, and I found it very easy to settle into the flow of the story.
Overall this was a fantastic epic fantasy standalone with well written characters and a vivid world. I mainly read fantasy series, so it was refreshing to read a standalone. The size is daunting, but it is well worth checking out. I would love to see more of this world, so I hope Shannon has plans for more books set in it. If you are a big fantasy reader, then I highly recommend checking out it. If you are a fan of Samantha Shannon, then I think you will love this too. Have you read this book? I’d love to know what you thought. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time. 

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