WHEN I was first handed The Priory of the Orange Tree, I was worried that this thick tome just contains a lot of chaff. Was I right to worry?
If you’re on a hunt for a story that has adventure, romance and mysticism in it, this is an amazing book.
You’ll be transported to a world with dragons, magic and defined cultures.
The author, Samantha Shannon, did some serious world building and packed a lot of intrigue in this standalone novel.
Readers are taken right into the action with an uninvited presence in the East and an assassination right in the Queen’s bedchamber.
The East and the West hold a different opinion of dragons. Dragons are revered like gods in the East while the West fear them, thanks to the history of the Nameless One.
The story starts in the East when a girl named Tane broke a cardinal rule by letting a man come up to land.
The East forbids strangers from entering lest they carry the life threatening draconic plague that gives sufferers a terrible burn.
All Tane ever wanted is to be a dragon rider and a stranger coming to shore is the least of her worries.
We’re then introduced to Queen Sabran the Ninth, ruler of Inys. She comes from a long line of queens who have protected the land from the evil giant dragon by always producing a female heir to rule.
The Queen is in deep trouble as she has not produced any heir yet and the looming return of the evil dragon named the Nameless One draws nearer.
Unknown to the Queen, Ead Duryan, her lady-in-waiting is a mage sent by The Priory to guard her. The Priory is a sisterhood of mages who are trained to kill Wyrms aka the dragons.
It’s a page turner thanks to the immense world building. The cultures, religions and prejudices explored in the story are believable and really brought the fictional world and their people alive.
Without revealing too much, it was interesting to read how people in the book interpreted the same legend differently.
The Big Bad in the story aka the Nameless One is just bad for the sake of being bad. It’s not revealed why the giant dragon wanted to annihilate the world.
This lack of story development may detach readers from this otherwise fantastically built world.
Apart from that, the book could be a slow read for some. In some parts of the story, it isn’t clear which character is speaking or what they’re doing.
A quick check online also showed that it’s something that has been pointed out by other readers too.