Shannon, Samantha. The Priory of the Orange Tree. Bloomsbury, 2019.
There are four storylines in this book which intertwine:
- Tane: a Seiikinese orphan drafted into the Houses of Learning as a child to train for the High Sea Guard in the East.
- Doctor Niclays Roos: an anatomist and alchemist whose current residence is in the East after being banished by Queen Sabran of Inys in the West.
- Ead Duryan: a sorceress of the Orange Tree posing as an Ordinary Chamberer in the Upper Household of Queen Sabran of Inys.
- Loth Beck: Heir apparent to the wealthy northern province of the Leas in Inys. He is a close friend to Queen Sabran.
This is quite a long story, but that doesn't lessen its impact at all. I enjoyed the fact that I could read so much of this book and still know I had many more pages to go. The story makes full use of its length to build the world and develop the characters as well as move the plot along. I am glad for the diversity of characters, which is a welcome change after so many whitewashed fantasy stories. Those who enjoy epic fantasies will be able to savor this one for a long time. I echo what many others have said about reading carefully for the first 100 pages or so and referring often to the character list and glossary; you'll thank me later.
Recommended for: adults who enjoy epic fantasy
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars
Read-Alikes: Eragon, Lord of the Rings, Seveneves (even though it's science fiction)
I received a complimentary ARC of this book through the publisher in exchange for an honest review.