The Priory of the Orange Tree // First Discussion

Happy Friday! I hope that everyone’s reading of The Priory of the Orange Tree is going well! I just got into it on Wednesday, finished the first 200 pages, and already working on the rest of the book. So far, it’s been dizzying with the amount of info and events going on. I’m enjoying the pacing. I like that it’s taking its time to reveal itself, that it’s richly developing, and I’m seeing a small amount of all these threads and how they interact with each other. I will try to avoid spoilers here, but so much has happened!

This is most definitely going to be one of those spider-web stories where threads of individuals will all come together at some point. At this point, it’s finding out who the characters are and their significance to the story as well as keeping tabs on all the happenings to avoid missing something. I have already missed stuff and if I’m being fully honest, I want to go back and reread the first 200 pages again. I want to really immerse myself in this story and for myself, it feels like one of those stories I have to read carefully otherwise I’ll end up lost.

But it also feels like the first 100 pages is a lot of setup and not enough getting to know the characters. I feel like there’s a TON of characters (enough for there to be a glossary of them in the back of the book. I highly suggest you check that out if you need help remembering everyone), but you know bits and pieces of them. It makes sense since all will be revealed, but it also feels uncertain. Who are the characters that we will be following throughout the story? What are the important components of the story?

After the first 100 pages, it felt like it started to mellow out and draw its lines on who the main characters are, what the main issues are, and how they all interconnect in this world. The world itself is brilliant. I can already see a lot of Western and Eastern influences in the story intermingling together, which is kind of interesting. It reminds me a lot of the Chinese historical dramas I love to watch with flowing silk gowns, lots of fanfare, and a whole ton of trope-y goodness. And there are dragons. FULL STOP. There are so many dragons and they’re the kind of dragons you want them to be. Big, menacing, somewhat scary. I cannot wait to see more about this dragon.

I might take my own advice and start the book again, which will be a pain since I’ve already read so much. But at the same time, I want to understand this book. It’s probably my own head where I didn’t give myself enough room after getting through most of my last book and then starting this. I think I might give myself the time to do it this weekend.

UPDATE

Ok I’m adding an update to this blog post because I re-read the first 200 pages and have quite a lot more thoughts.

The religion. Has anyone else noticed there’s a heavy hand with a religious aspect in this book? The Virtudom having the Six Virtues to believe in and anything outside of that (which is the idea that Galian Berethnet was the person who slayed The Nameless One and founded Inys). I always find it intriguing when an author creates something like a culture or a faith within the story that the characters live under. I have a good feeling that this is going to be a bigger component to the rest of the novel. What do you think?

Speaking to this, I also thought the royal engagement near the end of this section was kind of interesting. I feel like the royal intrigue in this story is extremely complex. You have Sabran who needs to get married and have a kid in order to protect Inys from The Nameless One. But she doesn’t seem like she wants to get married (completely understandable). I think the appearance of Fyredel really set in the importance of doing her duty, but with Sulyard and Truyde both saying that it isn’t Sabran’s line sealing The Nameless One I have a feeling that there’s going to be some real truths being revealed. This is probably the part of the story that’s intriguing the most at this point. What about you?

I’m also super intrigued by Niclays. Out of all the characters, it feels like his involvement is a bit more separate. He’s not Ead and closely next to Sabran. I can imagine that his involvement with Sulyard and Tane will eventually come back in the future, but I wonder what he did to be exiled and if he plans on finally creating the elixir of life? We shall see.

Finally, I just wanted to say that this book reads like a Chinese historical drama. Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching them a lot lately, but the royal intrigue and a bloodline protecting citizens from a great evil feels very much like the drama I just finished watching. I mentioned this earlier, but I’m seeing a lot of East Asian influence in the story as well as some European influence. I keep wondering if Samantha Shannon is into Chinese dramas as well.

Questions

  • Who is your current favorite character?

I’m currently in love with Ead. I find her story to be the most intriguing in the story so far. But I also like Tane. She seems to have some mysterious past too and I want to crack into that and dig a bit further. I think all the characters that have been introduced are so intriguing and I want to get to know them all way more.

  • What do you think of Fyredel and what do you make of its appearance?

This was the scene that really blew me away! I won’t get into it, but I want to hear what your thoughts were. When I read this scene, I knew this was going to be the book for me.

  • Any theories you’ve created while reading the first 200 pages?

I have some, but I’m not going to tell. It’s way too early to figure out if these theories are accurate! I also make wild theories, so I need to hold myself back.

  • What are the components that are keeping you engaged? What threads are you excited to follow?

I’m intrigued by Sabran and the entire “you must have a baby soon to keep this kingdom alive.” Oooh yes. I must find out more on this. I’m also loving the backstory. All the clues leading up to the current state of the world always intrigue me and keep me reading. I must know all!

Any other comments? Leave them below! Talk to you all next Friday as we read up to the halfway mark!

10 thoughts on “The Priory of the Orange Tree // First Discussion

  1. I loved reading your thoughts on the first 200 pages! I’m at page 630 and I feel you about re-reading the story. I think I want to re-read it slowly to really immerse myself into the world. The beginning was very slow and I was worried I wasn’t going to like this book, but I passed the first 100 pages or so and things started to get really good. I love Ead, she’s def my favourite character. I can’t wait to read more of your thoughts! 🙂

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  2. Ead is definitely my favorite! Though I have a soft spot for Loth, exiled in Yscalin. Yscalin is WEIRD and intense. — I really want to get to Ead’s past, and what exactly the Priory of the Orange tree is.

    Fyredel! Man, he is what I think of when I think of dragons. That’s the point where I feel like the book takes off for me, where the stakes are suddenly crystal clear. And where Sabran is just such a badass that I can’t help but love her.

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  3. I don’t currently have any favorite characters, but I really do appreciate Tane’s struggle and Ead’s personality. I am also reading this with a friend outside of this readalong, and they are really struggling with the vastness of this high fantasy. I am having the opposite experience, where I am really immersed in the story and feel like everything is very clearly and thoroughly being revealed to the reader in a way that is accessible, but that is only my opinion. Maybe I feel this way, because I read a lot of adult high fantasy compared to some. This style/method of storytelling is quite familiar to me, and I see a lot of commonalities between this book (so far) and other high fantasies I’ve read. Maybe this is just me. Will be posting my 200 page update this week on my website as well (thank you for inspiring me)!

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    1. I think that the vastness of the story is what makes it interesting, but I can imagine as a newbie to the genre it could be a lot to take in. But I love how big the world is and how there’s so many components! My favorite part is watching them all thread together at the end!

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    2. I’m like you and the story is just unfolding and flowing better than I expected. I’m loving the build-up and and the switching from “countries” every chapter.
      Also, what other fantasy’s do you recommend if you don’t mind I need some new material 😅 thank you.

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      1. Yes! I do love how slowly things are turning out. It makes me feel like there’s going to be some big surprises at the end and I love when threads all form together. As for new material, I just finished Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter and Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse. Both of those are wildly good and highly recommend!

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      2. So glad you’re enjoying it! I plan to d a post on my website about this soon, but here are some I recommend:
        For a slow burn political fantasy that is very character driven and a bit older: The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb
        For a newer fantasy that is much more action packed, but also character driven with more high fantasy elements (like dwarves and dragons): The Legends of the First Empire by Michael J. Sullivan! The audiobooks for this series are phenomenal!

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    3. Getting close to 600 pages myself I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll just comment on how much I’ve enjoyed this story from the beginning and being able to completely imerse myself into the characters backgrounds and personalities. So far I’m very interested in Tane and her struggles internal and external. You can also feel sympathy for Sabran and the weight of her duty of her bloodline and her internal struggling. For some reason, though I haven’t read the series in about 10 years it’s reminding me somewhat of Eragon. Can’t wait to finish and continue hearing everyone’s perspectives!

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      1. OMG yes! I’m somewhere in the 400s, but the level of Sabran’s duty to her country is wild. I’ve read a lot of court intrigue books before, but this one takes the cake.

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