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?
3 thoughts on “The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon // Final Thoughts”
I agree with you about the way it ended. I loved the story tbh, but the part that didn’t work was that it promised to be this story that was super character-driven and the politics and intrigue were all gonna matter hugely, then as you say, it all just comes together very neatly, and you realize the author was always going to head in this direction anyways, which makes it feel a bit unsatisfying.
It’s so close and so far, the world and story definitely require the length, more so even, but the main quest felt like an arbitrary afterthought. Interpersonal relationships are clearly favored over the main premise, way too much time was spent on it considering the epic nature of the main conflict. We only get one real battle with the draconic army, and we only see two high westerns, the conflict is between two kinds of dragons, falling from the stars or crawling up through the center of the earth, with all of human life in the balance. How is that in the background? It’s a marvelous concept, and it feels like the least important based on the attention it gets. The underground temple ruins Jannart discovers speak of the main conflict, and it’s balance, I was hoping for expeditions deep underground to learn more about where the nameless one comes from, and the creation of the draconic army in the first place. This would be a better way to discover what needs to be done to defeat him, lost knowledge from the dawn of man instead of Tane just having plot important artifacts literally on her person the whole time. I’m further disappointed and confused about how it ends, there’s still a LOT left to do, Fyredel is still out there, along with the rest of his army, and must be hunted down. That’s too huge a deal to leave unfinished at the time the story ends, there’s clearly more to go, so having so much of the book focused on other things makes it such a waste. All the monarchs showing up at the end, I didn’t even know those countries existed, introducing them so late makes no difference to us at this point, major details of the world are seemingly tossed in at the end instead of being fleshed out through the journey.
I’m very pleased that we don’t see the nameless one until the final battle, there was good foreshadowing of his return but not enough of it, again, that’s all in the background while we deal with relationship drama. There’s plenty of action to see with the high westerns before the big guy surfaces, especially since there’s 5 of them. We don’t even get the names of 3 of them, why make them so important if we never deal with them, even during and after the battle?
Everything was in place for the an epic saga, but I feel it focused on the wrong areas, The priority was the orange tree, and the balance of star and fire light
Autocorrect changed my last statement and I don’t know how to edit it, I meant to say that the priority should have been the balance of star and fire light