The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon // Final Thoughts

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! Thank you everyone who read The Priory of the Orange Tree with me this month! I know this was definitely an intimidating book and I’m so glad that we did it!

As I mentioned in my last post, I was feeling a little bit negatively regarding the book especially in the third section of the book we read. Lots of reveals and a lot of convenient moments that I’m not a huge fan. The finale of the book was also a bit too truncated and convenient for me, but that’s okay. It was still a great read and I’ve seen many folks enjoy the book.

This book was much different than I imagined. For an 800-page novel, I was expecting more action and adventure, more journey across the deserts and oceans of this universe to find the ancient artifacts, to find the sword, and to find the answers. The convenience of everything from finding Ascalon and the two jewels to even Tane’s understanding of her role in the entire universe were really downers for me.

However, let’s talk about the components that I really liked:

The almost all-female cast of characters. There were so many characters introduced in this book and that’s obvious from the first 200 pages where we’re introduced to a lot. However, I loved that the characters you were rooting for were mostly women. Sabran being the ruler of Inys and Ead being her protector and lover. I loved that Kalyba is one of the villains of the story who’s lived and seen much more than what the characters understand. Tane being this dragon rider and the Nayimathun being a female dragon as well. I also loved that the lore was also female-centric with super strong female characters fighting against the Nameless One and winning. Having an empowering story with female-forward characters really was such a nice touch.

And truly, the characters were worth the read. Every one of them was interesting and had a part in the story. Some were shorter components and some you don’t even see in real life; like Jannart who lived in Niclays’ memory more than in real life. I loved following along with each of the main characters and what their part in the Priory means to the rest of the story. I felt so much for Sabran, Ead, Tane, and Loth. Even some of the secondary characters were enjoyable and folks I wanted to continue to follow and read.

I also loved the world building. I loved that it took place across the expanse of this universe and that there were things happening in all parts of the world. I loved that we follow the characters to these different places, watch them negotiate with rulers and leaders who seem pretty ruthless, and I loved the dragons and how they’re incorporated into the entire story. This universe was vast and one of the reasons why I would have liked another 400 pages or at least a series in this universe is because everything that was introduced was interesting enough to get into the heart of it. If that makes sense, I just wanted more about Tane and Kalyba and the power of the jewels. I wanted more about Nayimathun especially since the dragons of the East aren’t in relation to The Nameless One or Fyredel.

And in these last 200 pages, Tane was such a huge asset to the story. Sadly, it didn’t feel like she was very important based on the amount we knew about her and even the page time she gets. Having her at the end revealing she’s a descendant of a goddess really confused me especially since she wasn’t present for most of the novel. It really begged for more about her and having her find out about her lineage and where she comes from.

The drama most definitely needs to be mentioned as well. There were so many reveals and Sabran’s family line is so messy and wild and every time something happened to a character I loved, I was so worried it wouldn’t work out for them. It read like I was watching one of my Chinese fantasy dramas filled with suspense, surprises, a little romance, and a final battle scene that rivals other battle scenes.

I really liked this book, but it wasn’t a favorite of mine. The story was interesting, but it’s difficult for me to get past the flaws of the story. I will still continue to read Samantha Shannon especially as more books come out in her Bone Season series. I’ll definitely recommend this one to friends who haven’t read much fantasy and want to get into a complex world with lots of characters. I just wished it worked for me.

What are your final thoughts?

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