Skip to content

THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE

Written By:

Ed Fortune
priory

Samantha Shannon is best known for her dystopian urban fantasy novel The Bone Season and its sequels. That book relies rather heavily on tropes on the genre to create a slick page turner, using familiar ideas to get the reader into the action. The Priory of the Orange Tree is entirely different beast, a shelf-breaking 800+ page fantasy novel with a rich deep and complicated world. We wondered exactly how Shannon would maintain her famously smooth style in an entirely different genre.

The answer is, of course, dragons. Both as a metaphor for social constructs and as the magical lizards that are both terrific and terrifying in a single breath. It’s a very large novel, but then given how dragons are in it, we are surprised that they all fit. Shannon has created a complicated and intricate fantasy world with its own traditions, sensibilities and biases. Then she’s dropped intelligent talking dragons into the mix, bending and changing that world utterly, making a glorious and believable mess of the whole world. It’s rather marvellous.

The story follows the perspective of four characters, each of which seem to showcase a different corner of the world. For example, Ead Duryan is a mage from the titular Priory and comes from South. Tané, the would-be dragon rider comes from the East, Doctor Roo is a scientist from the East and Loth Beck is a wealthy scion of the Northern lands. Each character’s path impacts each other in surprising ways, with various actions influencing each other. Some of these cultures worship dragons, others fear them, and then they are those who are pragmatic and indifferent. Added to this is the fact that they are different types of dragons, and we start to see how and why the various parts of the world come into conflict with each other.

Around this all is the legend of a thing called ‘the Nameless One’, a powerful being that has lain dormant for much of history. This ancient and evil creature will cause much chaos and strife if it ever wakes up. And, of course, various factions have conflicting ideas as to what will keep the thing asleep.

This is a big book with a lot of interweaving narratives; an extended read for even the most avid fantasy fan. There are a lot of interpersonal relationships and drama throughout the various storylines and it’s refreshing to see romantic subplots being a thing applied to everyone. We get all the colours of the rainbow here, with both gay and straight relationships being given plenty of room. It’s a long book with some pretty involved intrigue, but that is the appeal. This is an elaborate romantic drama first and a sweeping fantasy epic second.

The Priory of the Orange Tree puts Samantha Shannon in the same league as Robin Hobb and George R.R. Martin. Shannon is a master of dragons.

THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE / AUTHOR: SAMANTHA SHANNON / PUBLISHER: BLOOMSBURY CIRCUS / RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 26TH

Ed Fortune

You May Also Like...

Exclusive: VIDEO VISION Teaser and Poster Unveiled

The Pigeon Shrine FrightFest line-up was announced yesterday (check here if you missed it), and now we can exclusively reveal the poster and teaser for Video Vision, one of the
Read More
doctor manhattan in first trailer for watchmen chapter 1 by brandon vietti

WATCHMEN CHAPTER 1 Drops Excellent First Trailer

Warner Bros. Animation and Paramount have dropped the first trailer for their animated feature, Watchmen Chapter 1, a two-part film based on the classic DC Comics. The alt-history series is
Read More
paul b. rainey graphic novel why don't you love me? cover illustration

Jennifer Lawrence To Star In A24 Graphic Novel Adaptation WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME?

Jennifer Lawrence’s projects just keep lining up, with news that A24 has optioned Paul B. Rainey’s dark sci-fi comedy graphic novel Why Don’t You Love Me and have tapped Lawrence
Read More

Pigeon Shrine FrightFest 2024 Line-Up Unleashed!

The wait is over! The line-up for the 2024 edition of Pigeon Shrine FrightFest is here. Taking place between Thursday, August 22nd and Monday, August 26th, the event will take
Read More
still from 1981 horror film possession starring sam neill

Paramount Nears Deal For Remake Of 80s Horror POSSESSION

Paramount Pictures is reportedly in the final stages of closing a deal with Robert Pattinson and Smile filmmaker Parker Finn to tackle a remake of Possession, the 1981 supernatural psychological horror movie from writer-director Andrzej Żuławski. Finn
Read More
paul mescal in the first trailer for ridley scott sequel gladiator 2

GLADIATOR 2 Debuts Fierce First Trailer

Paul Mescal and Denzel Washington don their togas in the first trailer for Ridley Scott‘s long-coming sequel movie, Gladiator 2. Starring Mescal, Washington, Pedro Pascal, Joseph Quinn (looking very sickly) and Connie Nielsen, the film is
Read More