The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon: Book Review

Embark on a journey through a rich tapestry of fantasy realms filled with dragons, secret societies, and epic battles in Samantha Shannon’s captivating novel, “The Priory of the Orange Tree”.

Sneak Peak

In “The Priory of the Orange Tree”, the world is on the brink of war as ancient dragons, once thought extinct, reappear to wreak havoc. The story follows Queen Sabran of Inys, dragon-rider Tané, mage Ead Duryan, and scholar Loth as they navigate political intrigue, fulfill prophecies, and confront the looming threat of the Nameless One. As alliances shift and secrets unravel, these characters must unite to save their world from destruction.

My Take

Shannon’s world-building is immersive and detailed, painting vivid landscapes and cultures that feel both familiar and fresh. The complex characters are compelling; each with their own motivations and struggles. Queen Sabran’s journey from a sheltered royal to a formidable leader is particularly well-crafted, making her a standout protagonist. The narrative weaves together different perspectives seamlessly, offering a well-rounded view of the world and its conflicts.

One of the book’s strengths is its exploration of themes such as power, destiny, and sacrifice. Shannon delves into the complexities of these ideas through her characters’ choices and dilemmas, adding depth to the overarching plot. However, at nearly 800 pages, the novel’s length may feel daunting to some readers, and the pacing can be slow at times, especially in the first half. Additionally, while the world-building is expansive, some readers may find certain elements, such as the multiple religions and histories, overwhelming.

What Makes the Book Unique

“The Priory of the Orange Tree” stands out for its diverse cast of characters, including LGBTQ+ representation and strong, multifaceted female leads. Shannon subverts traditional fantasy tropes by incorporating elements of Eastern mythology and folklore into the narrative, creating a rich tapestry of cultures and beliefs. The inclusion of dragons, a staple in fantasy literature, is reimagined in a way that adds depth to the story rather than relying solely on their fearsome reputation.


Overall, “The Priory of the Orange Tree” is a sweeping epic that will appeal to fans of high fantasy looking for a richly imagined world and intricate political intrigue. While the sheer size of the book may be intimidating, Shannon’s lyrical prose and compelling characters make it a worthwhile read for those willing to invest the time. With its unique blend of diverse characters, intricate world-building, and thematic depth, this novel is a standout in the fantasy genre.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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