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.
Amazon Link: The Priory of the Orange Tree
Author: Samantha Shannon
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Rating: 5/5 stars
This is another book that I’ve been hearing amazing things about since it was released, and I regret taking so long to pick it up. But let’s face it, this is a mammoth-sized book! It’s so long that it’s like reading an entire trilogy in one volume. Although this is a stand-alone, so at least you get a complete story by the end.
I really enjoyed everything from the lush world-building to the complex characters. Although they come from different cultures and religions, they find common ground and learn to work together while overcoming their philosophical disagreements. And it really feels like a diverse world from the Asian-inspired eastern empire to the desert-dwelling religious sect.
I also loved how Ead found a way to stay loyal to Sabran without abandoning her own faith. Although she is supposed to listen to the prioress and protect her homeland, she came to love Sabran as well and wanted to keep her safe. Their relationship went through many trials but they still found a way to be together without sacrificing everything else. Normally when two characters from opposing sides fall in love, it ends with one or both being forced to abandon their people for the sake of the relationship. But Sabran and Ead made their own path.
Because it was called out in the description, I wish that there had been more time spent with Tane learning to become a dragonrider and more time with the dragons in general. But the plot bounced around many times to other characters, so Tane felt like she was ignored for large chunks of the narrative. It’s not that I disliked the other parts, but I was just disappointed, because the dragon part was what got me the most excited about this story.
Still, it was a great epic fantasy and I recommend it to anyone who loves epic fantasy, quests, dragons, legendary swords, lesbian romance, and diverse characters. This should be a classic for many years to come.
Here is the book in my reading journal: