“Orange” square completes my first Bingo!
The Priory of the Orange Tree was the featured speculative fiction pick of the month by Mysterious Galaxy when it was first released. One of the booksellers, who is a huge epic fantasy fan, was eagerly waiting to read it because it’s the type of fantasy that has appendices. At the time it came home, I didn’t have space space in the TBR. However, it was the perfect fit for the orange square, which gave me the push to read.
Things I Enjoyed about The Priory of the Orange Tree:
It was a complete epic fantasy arc in one book. How nice to not have to wait for the next book, and the next book, to come out to finish a story!
Overall it is a good example of the genre with deep world building and information is laid out so that when certain reveals happen it’s not a shock and more of an “ah ha!”.
Three of the main characters are fully developed women! Sabran is a strong willed queen who delays her inevitable wedding, necessary to produce the next Berethnet Queen of Inys, for as long as a Berethnet Queen rules in Inys, the Nameless One will stay locked away. Ead Duryan is living a double life, at Sabran’s court she is a minor member of the Queen’s chambers. Among her sisters of the Priory she is a mage wielding her siden power and hunting wyrms, servants of the Nameless One. Tane is an orphan raised in the far east where dragons are venerated as gods. Her life goal is to become a hallowed dragon rider and protector of the realm but the choices she makes on the eve of the choosing ceremony has consequences.
Good but not Great:
The two main romantic relationships are bisexual, yay! Bisexual relationships are outside the norm and considered somewhat deviant, boo!
Where it Lost Me:
The book starts to fall apart at the end. The whole story is built up to a final battle between the Nameless One and its’ followers verses the forces of good but it’s over in a matter of pages. I recognize that battles aren’t every author’s strong suit but if everything builds up to one climatic battle, I expect more.
There are two macguffins with which two characters are supposed to use in training together. Only the power of one macguffin is explored and practice is never shown/described between the two.
Descriptions of action got clipped so that it was unclear how one event led to another. A macguffin is on a ship, then it’s in someone’s hand, and then it’s jabbed into something, and I’m uncertain how it went from one to the next.
I give The Priory of the Orange Tree three stars. It was a pleasant and engaging read but the end was quite weak compared to what led up to it. If you enjoy the genre and have the time for an 800 page read, I would recommend it (with caveats above). Otherwise, give it a pass.
How to: Stamped From the Beginning, Ibram X. Kendi
Orange: The Priory of the Orange Tree, Samantha Shannon
White Whale: SevenEves, Neal Stephenson
Debut: To Have and to Hoax, Martha Waters
No Money!: Book – An Autobiography, John Agard