The world of The Priory of the Orange Tree holds its breath for the return of an ancient enemy. Divided, the different lands hold tense and tenuous relationships. Something is stirring, the likes of which the world has not faced in a thousand years. Ead, Tané and Queen Sabran each must play a part to save civilization from falling into the clutches of the Nameless One.
Dragons, magic, politics, pirates and battles. The Priory of the Orange Tree was exactly the kind of epic fantasy world I was craving to sink into. I devoured the sizeable book (which literally hurt to hold up for extended periods of time) as quickly as I could read. Notes in tow. Pages of notes. It had been so long since I’d delved into a complicated world that I had to make notes to avoid constant confusion during the first third of the book.
Packed full of interesting depth and detailed world building, it certainly delivered. The magic was interesting. The history rich and the scope of the plot spanned across several characters, cultures and objectives, throughout a whole continent.
It was evident Shannon mixed and diverted from the classics with modern ideals.The characters were diverse, not just in appearance but in complexities of their personal lives, relationships and dilemmas. There was no shortage of strong capable characters with lots of girl power packed in which was a nice change to the typical setting. People didn’t feel constrained due to gender rather, if they were held back it was because of circumstance.
The characters were also quite well into adulthood which was another nice shift from other stories of the same kind. The roles typically kept for coming of age characters as if teenage years are the only point in time in which you experience significant growth. I appreciated the youthfulness displayed in these late 20 – early 30 somethings.
Ead and Sabran’s love story was an appreciated natural and complicated romance. Tané and Ead were favorites of mine in particular. I really rooted for their personal journeys.
The downsides? The pacing felt a little off at times. Too drawn out due to the scope of the plot which resulted in some lukewarm feelings about major events at times. Character deaths felt sudden, almost quickly brushed away which left me feeling unmoved by them though the impacts on connected characters were supposed to be deeply altering. It felt a bit like a culling of no longer plot necessary characters in a large cast.
I think perhaps the battles suffered a little from similar pacing issues. This resulted in the ending battle falling a little flat as it felt short and small compared to some other scenes.
Some of the plot twists unfortunately seemed not very well planned or perhaps given little setup in order for them to be surprising which, to me, felt a bit like cheating. Then came the lengthy explanations post big reveal. I personally prefer when twists are entwined and embedded through the story. When done well, even if they aren’t totally surprising, they’re satisfying.
The ending of the book was satisfying enough but left me with some lingering questions. I hope this world will be revisited. I’m not sure if this book will be serialized or extended but I would definitely love to read about it again.
– 4/5 To make short of a massive book, it was worth the read and time. Though lacking in some areas, the world building and detail was enough to mostly overlook its shortcomings.