Reviews for The Priory of the Orange Tree, by Samantha Shannon

Lady Book Dragon's review
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This review was originally posted on my blog

I got very excited about this book and dragged my husband out to Waterstones to buy it for me (he is very good at feeding my book addiction) on the day it came out. I had the last copy in the store. Needless to say I went straight home and started reading it. However due to a heavy work load and falling asleep instead of reading it has taken longer than expected to finish.

I loved this book and at times I could not put it down. I loved the idea of good dragons and bad dragons and that the two dragons are very different from each other. The history and religion in this book are fantastic and very well thought out by Shannon, she gave a thorough background of both, where no holes were visible. I adored the world Shannon created and did not want to leave it.

Ead was such a strong powerful character who you couldn’t help but support and love. I did find Queen Sabran a little bit trying at times and to be honest that is when I had to put the book down for a while and also why the book got 4 dragons instead of 5 but I suppose all monarchs can be trying at times.

The other element I found enchanting was Tané and her relationship with her dragon. I was so worried for both of them and found myself tense with worry and anticipation. It reminded me of the love a human has with their dog or horse, as a dog or horse are fiercely loyal to their owner and will generally do anything to help and protect them. I could not get enough of dear Tané.

I desperately wanted to know more about the history of the trees and magic in this world and I really hope that Shannon does decide to do another book instead of keeping this book as a stand alone. I WANT TO KNOW MORE! Shannon in my opinion has been clever with the ending as she could easily do a sequel. I gave this book 4 out of 5 Dragons because I did love it and have recommended it to friends and family. The reason it didn’t get the full 5 Dragons was because of Queen Sabran and the fact in the middle I found it dragged slightly, but overall an amazing book.

micpegu's review
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Truly fantastic

Stacie'sBooks's review
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This was beautifully written and meticulously crafted. I could tell that the author was intensely passionate about this story, and I have to give credit where credit is due. It was a solid book, full of political intrigue, magic, and dragons.

So what's with my somewhat average rating? I, unfortunately, was not able connect to the characters. There were so many of them that I couldn't quite keep my focus enough to form attachments to any one person (or dragon for that matter). The world building in general, though impressively extensive, started to muddle the plot too much. Maybe I wasn't in the right mood to read this or something, but I kept getting overwhelmed with the amount of information being thrown my way. The more I read, the less I cared about what was happening to the characters. The story was bogged down by slow pacing and a vast character list. All that being said, I can see why some fantasy readers might love this. For people that want a crazy amount of lore to sink their teeth into, this might be a great reading experience for them. It just didn't happen to work for me the way I'd hoped. I still thought it was decent overall, but I would never reread this.

If you like reading high fantasy tomes with a slow-burn approach then, by all means, give this a shot. If you're like me though, and you were looking for something more immediately action heavy, maybe look elsewhere.

alyanthea's review
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adventurous medium-paced
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters centre-stage? Yes


Expand filter menu Collapse filter menu Content Warnings

Moderate: Miscarriage

booksbymallory's review
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5.0 i don’t think i have words? this was so stunning. emotionally gripping, rich, tender. diverse and innovative and wonderful! the first half was slower but every aspect built something incredible and it was definitely worth it in the end. everyone who enjoys fantasy needs to read this as soon as they can get their hands on it! i’m already thinking about rereading it after i recover from this experience ❤️

Adalene's review
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I really wanted to love this book but I felt the pacing was completely off. It was slow when it needed to be fast, but fast when I wanted more exploration and information. The character relationships seemed forced and unrealistic. I didn't buy into the love story which is unfortunate, because I was excited to see LGBTQ representation. The big bad had little to no real development and his defeat was very fast and boring. There were some good moments and characters, but they were over shadowed by all of the other glaring flaws of the book. I'm sorry to say, I wouldn't recommend this title and I'm unlikely to try anything else by Shannon.

booksmithsisters's review
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The Priory of The

Reagan's review
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The world/worldbulding - For a stand-alone book, the world was so much larger than I expected it to be. With 7 separate kingdoms of people that you explore, Priory definitely isn’t for the faint of heart. I also thought that the worldbuilding, for the amount of pages Shannon used to tell her story, was very expansive and explained much of the world’s history.

Character deaths - I suppose my opinion on this subject is unpopular. A lot of people dislike how suddenly and unexpectedly some characters died, but I really loved it. To me, this take on deaths was new and unique, very different from the classic drawn out scene when a character dies. I also thought these deaths showed just how suddenly someone can die, and it added some tension to the story for me, as it seemed someone could drop at any time.


The ending - I didn’t hate the ending of this book, but I definitely agree with others that it could have been longer and more drawn out. The transition into the ending seemed natural to me, and with the ending we got, I found myself interested and engaged as I was reading. However, again, the final struggle did seem to happen strangely quickly - making it almost feel like it wasn’t that hard for the characters to win.

Connection to Characters - The main character I connected with/had the most interest in reading about was Niclays. I thought he was definitely the most nuanced character of all our POV characters, and I believe his arc was done the best as well. Sadly, especially towards the end of the book, he becomes very much a side POV. I was decently interested in Ead and Loth, but I wasn’t extremely attached to them or anything of the sort. Tane I didn’t really care about for some reason. There was even one point in the book where I was full on annoyed with her when I don’t think I was supposed to be. An animal companion also appeared in the book, and I usually love animal companions, but I didn’t care about Nayimathun. She seemed almost perfect to me as I was reading, with no interesting quirks or character traits to draw me in. I also didn’t feel much of a connection between her and her rider.


Predictability - This is really what brought the book down in my eyes. As I was reading this book, I could tell how the ending was likely going to go anywhere from 500-600 pages in, and for the most part, I was entirely right. I was also able to predict many plot points throughout the story before they happened, and there was only one time throughout the story where I was very surprised by something that happened. If you are even decently well read in fantasy, you’ll be able to predict most of what happens in this book.

Overall, this definitely wasn’t a book I felt like I had to immediately pick up when I had free time, but when I did pick it up, I was engaged in the story and could keep reading for long periods of time. This book definitely didn’t blow my mind, or change my life, or cause me to be extremely attached to its story, or anything of that sort, but it was still fun to read. If you’re just looking for another fantasy to read, I would recommend this one to you, but if you’re looking for something different or mind-blowing, I would certainly pick up a different book.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Jennn's review
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adventurous tense medium-paced
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters centre-stage? N/A


The Priory of the Orange Tree is an epic fantasy story, filled with plot twists, different narrators, conflicting religions, old myths, dragons and grand nations.

There are four narrators, each completely unique, slowly waving this magnificent tale. Although many of the tropes are not quite original, the way the author brings everything together transforms this familiarity to an alluring thrill.

Truth be told, the first 150 pages are challenging enough, since we meet so many characters, places and traditions that it is hard to memorize at first, but at the end all the trouble is rewarding.

If you don't mind reading an 800+ pages book, and you love fantasy, this book is definitely for you. 

SamusC's review
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adventurous dark emotional hopeful inspiring medium-paced
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters centre-stage? Yes


Not only was this one a 5 star read, but quite possibly the best fantasy I've read in years. 
I loved everything about it, but these are the main reasons, containing light spoilers:

The cover is beautiful! When this scene was depicted, it was so satisfying to have this visual. 

Each of the narrators voices as written are distinct and interesting. It really seemed like there were emotionally intense/plot significant scenes every chapter, and the chapters themselves don’t feel long (Good for bite-sized reading before bed, though the content is so good I couldn’t put it down).

The different interpretations of religion were fascinating to read about, and isn’t something I’ve seen much of before.

The parallels between historical figures and their descendants were intriguing. This text has many themes, one of which that you are not your ancestors, though you are connected to them and share their likeness in many ways.

The pacing is phenomenal. It’s fascinating how when a character is introduced as potentially missing, a few chapters later the fate of the missing character is discovered by someone else. The amount of detail provided when historical context relates to a present situation is the perfect amount (usually two small paragraphs).

There are so many memorable character relationships and interactions. By the end of the book, a majority of the characters have interacted with each other/share several common threads. I won't spoil too much here, but would like to shout-out some of my favorite character moments/relationships:

  • I loved seeing Sabran's trust in Ead grow. The tender moments between them are electric! This relationship defines slow burn.
  • Loth and Kit are reminiscent of Frodo and Sam. Yes, they didn’t have a choice in being sent on this task, but when given the opportunity to be somewhat safe or take a risk in following this mystery further, Kit decided to follow Loth into the darkness. What a great friend!
  • The bonds between humans and animal companions were incredible. I cried!

I'd recommend this book to both lifelong fans of fantasy, and casual/novices to fantasy. Yes, the page count is intimidating, but once I had gotten to 600 pages, I lamented that I only had around 250 (some individual book lengths!) left with these characters. 

Edit: Samantha Shannon has confirmed that Loth and Tane are ace!

CW: Miscarriage


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