An epic fantasy and one of the most hyped books of 2019, Samantha Shannon doesn’t disappoint in her action packed and dragon filled monster of a book.
Shannon creates an amazing world that is both like and unlike many great fantasy novels before Shannon’s. It’s hard not to fall in love with this medieval type of world filled with courtly romance and myth and remember just how amazing the fantasy genre is to escape into an entirely new and fantastic world. It’s easy to get lost in Shannon’s beautiful prose from the scenery of the different worlds, the description of the dark waters, to the shimmering scales of the dragons and wishing you could see one to the (sometimes frustrating) description of food that made me so hungry (let me eat the magic orange!).
One of the biggest changes that Shannon makes to the genre (and my personal favourite) is many of the kingdom’s, though most notably Inys, matriarchal society and Queendom shown through the Berethnet family and its current queen in the novel Sabran XI. I’ve never read a fantasy novel to feature a Queendom or matriarchal society and I love it and I loved how Shannon challenged the genre by making the simple change of a female-led fantasy world.
In fact Shannon’s novel features a mostly female cast (I think there’s literally one male perspective of a main character in the novel) of characters that show just how developed women can be in the genre. From Ead Duryan, our lady-in-waiting to Queen Sabran and secret assassin, to the dragonrider Tané, to Queen Sabran herself who is tasked with birthing an heir to keep an evil dragon from reawakening and destroying the world, Shannon’s novel depends on the strength of its women characters and it’s these women that make The Priory of the Orange Tree such a success. While the novel mostly switches from the perspectives and lives of these three women I was eager to learn about what each of their stories held, neither of the women seemed more interesting than another each of their journey’s was unique to their own story. I will admit to disliking the one male perspective of Loth (Arteloth) Beck. He just wasn’t interesting to me and annoyed me a lot during the story, though I did warm up to him near the end.
Shannon has created a novel worthy of the fantasy genre that not only inspires change but welcomes in a generation of female fantasy readers who will know that this genre is for them. Readers who will believe in Queendoms and powerful and complex women who can rule a country, be unpredictable, and push themselves to achieve their goals.
Publication: February 26th 2019
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Pages: 827 pages
Source: Pre-order from Indigo
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Adult
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤⛤⛤
“The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.
Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.
Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.
Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.”