My experience with The Priory of the Orange Tree perfectly illustrates the pitfalls of reading on a tablet. I was happily reading along, thinking how much I was enjoying this book with its refreshingly updated take on fantasy, when all of a sudden, I thought, “Hmm. I’ve been reading this for a long time now and I still don’t know where any of this is going.” It was then that I checked and realized I’d been reading for at least two weeks, and was only about 50% of the way through the book. And I’m not a slow reader! How massive of a doorstop must the printed version of this book be? Well, I looked it up, and it’s 850 pages–aka the same length as Lonesome Dove, and 100 pages longer than the longest Harry Potter book. I’ve seen it compared to the Game of Thrones books, and that comparison is certainly apt if you’re talking about length.
I don’t want to be too down on The Priory of the Orange Tree. Like I said, I really did enjoy the first half of it. It’s hard to describe the plot–there’s dragons, witches, fantastic sea voyages, an epic battle pitting all of the main characters against the forces of evil–it’s an exciting fantasy tale, and I love that the typical gender roles you find in fantasy books are nowhere to be seen here. I was really fond of several of the main characters, especially Tane the dragonrider. The fantasy world is very detailed–almost too detailed, as I had trouble keeping track of some of the countries and historical bits. It’s also a standalone story, which I like, because I almost never get around to finishing most series. There’s a lot that’s good in this book.
On the other hand, it is just too long. Some people have a gift for writing, and can make even the longest story fly by. Samantha Shannon is a good writer, but I think a better editor would have helped her trim this down a bit. The editing in general is poor–more than once I had to reread a few lines in order to follow what was happening, and I’m still not clear about the fate of one of the characters at the end of the book–I literally could not figure out, from what was said, if the character is alive or dead.
I’m not NOT recommending this book–but if you choose to read it just be prepared for those flaws.