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The Priory of the Orange Tree Hardcover – February 26, 2019
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From the Publisher
"Mesmerizing." - Washington Post
"A timelessly relevant classic. Brilliant, diverse, feminist, subversive, thought-provoking, and masterfully told, The Priory of the Orange Tree is an absolute must-read." - Karen Marie Moning, #1 NYT bestselling author of the Highlander and Fever series
"A brilliant, daring, and devastating jewel . . . An incredible world full of depth and danger, with characters I would follow to the ends of the earth. I'm in awe of [Shannon's] talent." - Victoria Aveyard, #1 NYT bestselling author of the Red Queen series
"An epic feminist fantasy perfect for fans of ‘Game of Thrones’ . . . A rich and engaging high fantasy novel that puts women and their stories front and center, The Priory of the Orange Tree will pull you into its magical world from the first page." - Bustle
"An intricately realized and feminist fantasy . . . one might even be tempted to dub Samantha Shannon, ‘The female George R.R. Martin." - Hypable
"This magnificent epic of queens, dragonriders, and badass secret wyrm-slaying priestesses is a tour de force, and my new absolute favorite epic fantasy." - Laini Taylor, NYT bestselling author of the Strange the Dreamer and Daughter of Smoke and Bone series
"Spellbinding . . . extraordinary . . . A well-drawn feminist fantasy with broad appeal for fans of the epic and readers of Zen Cho, Naomi Novik, and V. E. Schwab. Highly recommended." - Booklist, starred review
"A celebration of fantasy that melds modern ideology with classic tropes. More of these dragons, please." - Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"An astonishing achievement." - Marie Brennan, award-winning author of The Memoirs of Lady Trent series
"An epic fantasy destined to be a classic." - Kami Garcia, #1 NYT bestselling coauthor of Beautiful Creatures and author of Unbreakable
"The Platonic Ideal of a fantasy novel . . . This story of good and evil, struggle and triumph, love and loss and return is beautifully written: complex but clear, and utterly immersive. I loved this book." - Nicola Griffith, award-winning author of Hild
"The Priory of the Orange Tree isn't our grandfathers' epic fantasy novel. It is a clever combination of Elizabethan England, the legend of St. George and Eastern dragon lore, with a dash of Tolkien. Shannon's feminist saga has enough detailed world-building, breath-taking action and sweeping romance to remind epic fantasy readers of why they love the genre in the first place. Modern sensibilities integrate seamlessly with genre tropes . . . Readers will beg for a sequel." - Shelf Awareness
"Shannon satisfyingly fills this massive standalone epic fantasy with court intrigue, travel through dangerous lands, fantastical religions, blood, love, and rhetoric." - Publishers Weekly
"A fascinating epic fantasy set in a rich, well-developed world. Shannon has created fertile narrative ground." - New York Journal of Books
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Priory is nothing less than epic. In one book, Shannon manages to create an entire world, complete with over a thousand years of history, various conflicting religions, generations upon generations of royalty, dozens of nations, and a sea full of pirates. Pirates! There is pirate action in this book! Are you not convinced? I mean, there’s dragons - and not just one sort of dragon, either. Also, did I mention the whole book has a very, very strong feminist bent to it? How much more convincing do you need? If you like dragons, if you like epics, if you can make it through 800 pages, then you need to read Priory of the Orange Tree.
Authors like Robin Hobb pull this sort of epic fantasy political intrigue off by presenting it gradually through the lens of fully fleshed-out characters whose lives and opinions the reader is invested in. This book does not. I was bored. I tried not to be, because I'd heard there were lesbians, but even the draw of the gay was not enough to keep me here in the end. I started skimming at 20% and DNFed about halfway through. Life is just too short, my friends
P.S. I've seen some complaints about the prose being too "complex." That's not the case. There is nothing special about the prose. If there were, it might have persuaded me to put my irritation aside for a little longer, but alas.
Samantha Shannon creates such complex and rich worlds filled with influences from all over the world and it shows heavily in this book. It is something that I appreciate very much because it shows how much time she went into her research for this novel. The world of Priory is vast in scope and we get to see most of it in just this one book but even after finishing this behemoth of a book I am left wanting to explore more of it. I just want more and I hope and pray that we do.
This particular story follows 4 main points of view. We follow Ead, Tane, Niclays, and Loth. We also follow some minor side characters but it's these four that really bring the story to life. It's refreshing to know that all four have their own journey and their own emotional arcs. No one copies the other. I enjoyed the reading from each of their perspectives but I do have to say I have a soft spot for Ead and Tane. Every time they hit the page I smiled. That is not to say I didn't enjoy Loth or Niclays.
To wrap this up I will just say that this novel hit all my weaknesses and checked all my boxes and I just want more stories in this world. Whether it be with the same cast of characters or new ones.
Let me elaborate.
First of all, this book had the best character development that I have ever read in a story. The characters felt so very very real to me and I made instant connections with them (I either loved them or despised them). Next, the storyline takes twists and turns that are simply flawless. This book went to places that had me either crying with sadness or smiling with joy. For me, the ending felt right and wasn't too "and they live happily ever after." Shannon could easily (and hopefully!) write another book as a sequel or even a spinoff of it following some of the characters after the events that occurred in the book.
If you couldn't tell already, I really really adore this book and can certainly see myself rereading this beast of a book later in my life just to see my beloved characters again and enter back into a world full of magic, dragons, suspense, love, heartbreak and elation. A must read for everyone.
Top international reviews
To start off, the pacing is some of the worst I've ever seen in a book. Absolutely nothing happens in the first 400ish pages, most of which are spent discussing royal lineage, religious practices and etiquette among the queen's handmaidens. Peppered in are chapters here and there which hint at more interesting storylines but which are over before you've gotten anything worthwhile out of them, dragging you back to the palace for more excruciating chatter about who is changing the queen's bedsheets. In the latter half of the book, once the story does finally begin to move, it jumps around wildly with epic quests beginning and ending within a few pages, grand revelations being made one after another, centuries old conflicts mended in minutes and ancient mysteries solved with startling ease.
Characters constantly end up in the right place at the right time, often stumbling across something to advance the plot by sheer chance or avoiding certain doom by magic. This makes an already fantastical story seem so unrealistically convenient that it robs it of the agency, suspense and struggle needed to sustain a fairly lengthy novel.
Like the plot, the characters are a mixed bag. The bulk of the story revolves around Ead, magic-dragon-hunter-turned-queen's-assistant, but despite her impressive CV she felt very bland to read about with little personality to grab onto. Other characters, like prospective dragon rider Tané or lord sent on a suicide mission Arteloth, are a bit more interesting and likeable (respectively) but for the first 2 thirds of the book they are largely absent and undeveloped. By the time they became more central to the plot I had lost any desire to find out what happens to them.
The author indulges in the fantasy trope of ridiculous character and place names that could make Tolkien wince - not a deal breaker for everyone but a pet peeve of mine. The feminism that underpins much of the story, while welcome in a genre often dominated by male archetypes, is at times eye-rollingly unsubtle. Plot threads are often dropped or cleared up with lazy exposition.
At around 500 pages I looked on in despair at the bulk of the book still unread but forced myself to continue, hoping that like A Game of Thrones this would be a slow burn that built to something spectacular, but it never happened. What I got was a cliche and at times clumsy fantasy book with a few interesting ideas which feels like it would sit more comfortably beside Hunger Games than Game of Thrones.
The world was completely fleshed out, breath taking and unique. Instead of taking the same generic medieval tropes to make each of the kingdoms vague imitations of England and Scandinavia, it's clear that Shannon researched world history and used it as an inspiration point to spring an epic fantasy universe that felt familiar yet new, and completely authentic. Her style of writing is beautiful and descriptive and for the first time in years it made reading a book over 800 pages a joy instead of a struggle.
There is a huge epic cast of different and unique characters. At first this is intimidating, and it takes quite a while to get all the names straight in your head, but once you do it's well worth it. Priory is a book you have to dedicate yourself to; if you want an easy, light read then you shouldn't be looking towards a piece of writing as complicated as this one is. If you take the time and the attention to understand the world and everything going on in it however, it will be one of the best bookish decisions you can make.
I do have quite a few issues with Priory which do hurt my admiration of it. I really feel like this book should have been around 600 pages. For pretty much half of the book, Ead sat around playing handmaiden to Sabran. Despite the fact that I adore her character just as much as the others, we sacrificed a lot of page time to her doing nothing, while the exciting and different side storylines were given short and fleeting chapters. Either some of this waiting around should have been cut out, or the other characters should have been given some more time. The biggest example I feel makes this obvious is Tané. Her being a dragon rider is surely one of the most exciting and interesting parts of the book, yet she gets next to no page time and even less time spent actually being with with her dragon. On that note, for a story about dragons, it feels like there's barely any interaction with them for most of the book. I really wish we'd have gotten more of an understanding of their society and how Eastern dragons view Western dragons.
The entire thing however, so so magical and dear to me that I could let big things like this slide. I love Priory with all of my heart and I hope Shannon releases more books in this universe!
Brilliant. Fabulous. All immersive. Devastating. Amazing
Everything I hoped and thought it would be and so much more.
Was what I said when I read this back in November 2018 and I stand by those comments. Since The Priory of the Orange Tree comes out next month, I think I'm now allowed to give a full review. So here goes.
Priory is not a perfect book but it was absolutely the perfect book for me. If that sounds contradictory bear in mind that from an objective point of view, I could see minor flaws. The wrap up is very sudden for instance. The pacing is a little off in places. Some threads could have done with longer conclusions - it's an 800+ page book and I would have happily read even more so just how much of a flaw these things are is up for question. This is not one of those huge books that is mostly filler. This is a tome that deserves to be a huge book because every bit of that plot was needed (and I still wish it was longer!).
The book opens on Tane, who yearns to be a dragon rider, making a fatal error the night before her dragon rider trials. Her actions set off a chain of events that send subtle ripples across the world. In the East, dragons are beautiful, wise, graceful and serpentine - creatures of air, water and intellect. Far from the Eastern reaches of the world, there are other kinds of dragons on the move - creatures of fire and greed and violence. A great evil is stirring in its sleep, ready to wake once more.
In the West, the queens of Inys have ruled for a thousand years. The current ruler is Sabran the ninth, a young woman who is reluctant to wed and bear the heir the kingdom is waiting for. Each queen of Inys bears only a single child, a daughter to rule after her. And then there's Ead, a foreigner who has climbed the ranks to become first a lady in waiting, then a lady of the royal bedchamber and trusted confidant. But Ead's loyalty is long since given to an ancient and mystical order, and her defence of the queen is secret, employing the use of forbidden powers. The young queen must face off against the fire breathing monsters her forebears defended the realm against before her, as well as the lesser draconic creatures - wyverns, cockatrices etc.
And under the surface calm, political turmoil and intrigue foment. Some believe that the great evil can only be defeated with draconic intervention from the East. Some believe the young queen who will not provide an heir should no longer rule. And the prejudice between East and West over their beliefs surrounding dragons makes any attempt at an alliance both unlikely and deadly.
This book has so much going for it, I almost don't know where to start. The world building was fantastic. Fully realised with multiple cultures, religious beliefs and practices unique to various countries, diverse characters - and dragons. The dragons cannot be forgotten because they are fully realised characters in their own right. When they actually do speak, they are dragons not just humans in dragon masks and it's perfect. The characterisation is strong full stop. This is a huge cast of female characters in starring roles with good male supporting cast. It never feels forced or like it's making any other statement than 'these are the best characters for telling this story.' While we're on the subject of characterisation, there are plenty of LGBTQAIP+ characters. The two main romantic sub plots are LGBT, with a third minor romantic sub plot being non-LGBT but mostly happening off page and reduced to longing looks and presumed touches etc. A complete reversal on the normal order of LGBT versus non-LGBT relationships in fantasy and fiction, and beautifully done.
Sabran, the young queen, is not always likeable but she's always engaging. It would be hard not to relate and sympathise with her situation. While she has flashes of temper and arrogance, it's easy to see they're rooted in self doubt and a privileged upbringing that at the same time divided her from close friendships which might have taught her better. Her manifestations of depression and anxiety are very real and poignant when they occur, and realistically frustrating for the reader.
Ead is a brilliant character. Her greatest qualities are her competence, intelligence and compassion, which is leavened by a spark of true ruthlessness and a single-minded desire to do what she believes to be right. She makes mistakes but not out of stupidity or over confidence - they're the sort of wrong calls anyone might make. Best of all, she has her own prejudices but logic and honestly force her to confront them again and again in order for her to complete her mission.
Tane is a harder character to get to know and her screw ups are harder to forgive or understand, at least until you really see things from her viewpoint with all the cultural conditioning she has be subject to. There's at least one truly awful moment when I wanted to flinch away from the page because of her facing the consequences of what she did. However, she is also honourable, courageous and steadfast. Her relationship with her dragon is lovely - a representation of love that goes beyond friendship and the physical.
All in all it's a huge story with lots of action, twists, political intrigue and character development. So much happens that I got to the end feeling I'd read an entire series, rather than one book. It does work as a standalone but I would happily read a sequel. I might have mentioned that I want more once or twice somewhere in this review?
The Priory of the Orange Tree is my most anticipated book of 2019. The fact that I mainlined it in three days in Nov 2018 has not changed that fact. I can't wait for my shiny new hardback version because it was one of those books where I could have turned the final page and then just gone straight back to the beginning and started the book again. Some books fully immerse you in a world. Some books give you no choice, you're just dragged in. And some books, like Priory, leave you homesick for the world they whisked you away to when you finally return to reality. This might well be my book of the year. Highly recommend.
We are introduced to a plethora of characters and worlds and continents but none of it seems to matter as in the grand scheme of things, everyone and everything seems to be running on the spot. I suppose the best way to express the opening chapters of this book is to say that there's a lot of activity but very little progress/achievement. Many of the characters seem to be the embodiment of medieval tropes with the only difference being the female-characters have taken over the more traditional and patriarchal roles bestowed upon male-characters. But again, they are let down in my opinion by the sheer drudgery of the plot.
I've been reading long enough to know that there are novels which pick-up in pace at a much later stage. I've read my share of books that began with a crawl but soon hit a stride that'd best Usain Bolt in a sprint. The Priory of the Orange Tree seems to be one such book, however, the only issue I have is that even the crawling first-act doesn't really offer me anything that'd make me want to persevere. So, in this instance, I believe it's more a case of me not being right for this book rather than the other way round. The cover-art is definitely one of the best I've ever seen, but as of right now, the cover is the only reason why I've retained this book in my library-shelves. And who knows, perhaps one day in the future I might finish reading it. And I'll re-edit this section again.
Sim, já vou começar rasgando seda e, é provável que mesmo escrevendo páginas elogiando ele, não seja suficiente.
Em meio a tantas fantasias medíocres e histórias que reciclam fórmulas de outras famosas, The Priory Of The Orange Tree era o que eu estava precisando.
Vou começar elogiando a escrita da Samantha Shannon. Como eu ainda não li nada dela? Depois desse livro eu coloquei a outra trilogia da autora na minha lista. Sei que as histórias são completamente diferentes, mas agora eu preciso conhece-la melhor e finalmente dar uma chance para Temporada de Ossos.
Ela conseguiu me prender desde a primeira página, e eu sei que se estivesse de férias, provavelmente devoraria esse livro em 3 dias, no máximo.
Eu fiquei triste cada vez que precisei parar ele, seja por causa do trabalho, ou do sono que já estava tomando conta de mim. E mesmo morrendo de cansaço eu ficava com a história na cabeça, martelando teorias e imaginando tudo o que poderia acontecer depois.
Porém, uma boa escrita não é suficiente para um livro ser bom. Existem muitos autores bons, mas com histórias que simplesmente não funcionam para mim. O que não é o caso de TPOTOT (vou ter que começar a abreviar o título haha)
O livro tem 4 protagonistas.
Ead: Uma maga do Priorado da Laranjeira que se infiltra no reino de Inys para proteger a rainha Sabran e garantir que nada atrapalhe os seus deveres como governante da Casa de Berethnet.
Tané: Uma garota de origem simples que sonha em entrar para a alta guarda do mar, mas acaba cometendo um erro que pode colocar esse sonho por água abaixo.
Niclays: Um alquimista decadente e ambicioso que foi expulso do reino de Inys pela própria rainha atual, e que busca desesperadamente o segredo da imortalidade.
Loth: Um amigo de infância de Sabran, que é mandado para longe do reino, já que alguns acreditam que os dois tem um caso amoroso, e isso pode atrapalhar os planos dela gerar uma herdeira, e em consequência disso, acordar um perigoso inimigo.
Todos tem grande peso e importância para a trama, e em vários momentos as suas histórias acabam se entrelaçando.
Apesar dos protagonistas masculinos, o livro é dominado por mulheres. Desde o começo a força e empoderamento feminino, está muito presente, e foi uma das coisas que mais me agradaram.
Muitas vezes eu caio na armadilha de livros que prometem isso, mas não cumprem, ou colocam somente o que é conveniente para o desenvolvimento da história. E isso não aconteceu aqui.
A autora nos presenteia com mulheres fortes, ambiciosas, e principalmente humanas, e isso não se resume somente as duas personagens principais. O livro apresenta muitas outras mulheres com esses mesmos aspectos, e a autora não diminui uma para enaltecer a outra.
Outro aspecto incrível de TPOTOT é a ambientação. No começo do livro a autora menciona que se inspirou em vários lugares do nosso mundo para criar o fictício, e para mim ela trabalhou muito bem esse aspecto. Eu consegui imaginar facilmente os cenários enquanto estava lendo, e inserir todos os elementos que ela descreve durante a narrativa.
Mudando um pouco para o desenvolvimento da história. O livro tem ação do começo ao fim, porém nada cansativo que faça a gente enjoar de ver ação e desejar saber um pouco mais sobre os personagens e o mundo. A Samantha soube equilibrar perfeitamente todos esses detalhes, nos dando tudo na medida certa.
Nada fica para o final, não ficamos presos em picuinhas bobas para encher a história, e muito menos descrições excessivas somente para dar volume ao livro.
Nada disso que eu disse acima parece suficiente? Apesar de ser, ainda tem mais, muito mais.
Batalhas épicas, dragões (muitos dragões) representatividade, crítica ao fanatismo religioso, e claro uma boa dose de romance.
The Priory Of The Orange Tree é a fantasia perfeita para os amantes desse gênero. Além de todos os aspectos que citei, ele é um livro único, ou seja, nada de enrolação para prender os leitores em uma série grande e cansativa.
Finalizo dizendo que por enquanto The Priory Of The Orange Tree foi a minha melhor leitura do ano, e que estou genuinamente feliz por ter tido a chance de conhecer essa história incrível.
Espero que não demorem para trazer ele para o Brasil e que outros leitores possam ter a chance de ler e sentir o mesmo que eu estou sentindo agora.
There is nothing I can say to recommend this highly enough. If you love High Fantasy but dislike the rampant misogyny male authors feel is necessary for 'historical accuracy' or 'realism', this book is for you.
Here you get ladies riding dragons, ladies fighting dragons, ladies passing on the throne from woman to daughter, ladies serving as knights and bodyguards. Women everywhere. And you know what? They don't make men look bad at all. Nowhere in this book does anyone suggest that either gender is somehow lesser.
To top all that off, LGB characters abound and are simply accepted into society without anyone batting an eye.
There is plenty of conflict, both external and internal, the reexamination of religion and blind faith and, most importantly:
Here be dragons.
Where this book fell flat for me was in the characters and the romance.
I just didn’t connect or really care that much about any of the characters, Tane was the closest at the beginning but then you don’t read anything about her for a while. I gave myself the question that if they all died on the next page would I care? Unfortunately no. I didn’t like Sabran or Niclays, Ead and Tane were fine, Loth was bland. I couldn’t tell you very much about any of the characters likes, dislikes or mannerisms, (Except Niclays who was selfish). None really stood out.
The romance, (Some spoilers) I just didn’t feel it. Yes it was an LGBT relationship, (great diversity in this book) but it had no substance. Ead fancied Sabran, you get that , but there was no reason why she even liked Sabran let alone fell in love with her and vice versa.
I have read The Bone Season and loved it but unfortunately this book was just ‘ok’ for me.
Now that's out of the way we can review. First half of the book is dull, dull, dull. Nothing happens. Nothing. Yawn. Then all, of sudden, it all kicks off. Won't give the story away but its worth persevering for a while. Its not up there with GOT but it turns out to be a reasonably entertaining yarn.
There is also a problem of Editing. Too many repetitions, reduplications ( i lost countof the number of times one reads that the character's "brow is deeply furrowed" to indicate that he or she is thinking) There are lots of superflous scenes and details. Characters come and go, monsters pop in and out but mostly they add nothing much but bulkiness to the readers "homework"( Should I remember this?) .
I slogged and ploughed through this book to the end because i sincerely wanted to like it but in the end its just another "me too" vying for the post Game of Throne fantasy niche. mike burke
PoT tree is fantasy, but young adult fantasy. That's fine, I like YA. But it doesn't even come close to comparing to other good YA novels, let alone fully-formed, multi-series adult fantasy. The pacing of the book isn't great - it's slow to take off, though interesting enough. But then suddenly the whole story happens in one go and you're left feeling like the long bits should have been shorter and the short bits should have been longer.
A lot of the characters aren't properly fleshed out and you feel like you want more. The romance made me feel nothing at all as the characters don't really seem connected at all... but maybe that's because of the lack of depth in the characters themselves. Plus, there are so may people it's difficult to even keep track of them all.
But to be honest, my biggest bug bear with the book is that everything happens so damn conveniently. Generation-long riddles are solved in moments. Characters are constantly in the right place at the right time. The main characters are seemingly able to think of solutions that a 1,000 years of people didn't think of. It just ruined the story for me because I was constantly rolling my eyes at how easy and convenient everything was. There was no difficulty, suspense or feeling of 'quest'.
However, despite all that, the book is pretty readable even if it took me longer than it should. I've read better, I've read worse. It's not one I'll go back to but worth a go if you're lacking anything else.
The concept is impressive - a land where the conventional religion is based on a lie, and heretics are burned at the stake doesn’t sound like an attractive place to be - but add in a magical assassin/protector, a land of eastern dragons... and a plot that nicely undoes the horrors of the heresy-burners - and you have a post-modern delight. This is clever, thoughtful, thought-provoking and gives me hope in a world stolidly turning back towards heresy-burning. I loved the central relationship and was deeply relieved when it turned out that it wasn’t a passing thing, to be replaced by something more conventional later on. This is a long book, but worth the effort of writing and definitely worth the time it’ll take to read it. I was captivated and will be looking for more.
This book is AMAZING.
Honestly, I’m not exaggerating or being blinded by my SaySha love when I say that this is the best book I have ever read. Perhaps it isn’t a perfect specimen of epic fantasy for you, but for me, this book had every single thing I could possibly have asked for. Samantha Shannon is a master wordsmith, world-weaver and storyteller. You will not regret pre-ordering or buying this book, and the best part is that it can be repurposed as both a weapon and a shield as it is nearly 900 pages and heavy as a brick. True story.
Fiercely feminist, while still having universal appeal for all genders of readers – This is the ultimate feminist reclaiming of the high fantasy genre. In an industry ruled by Tolkien and Sanderson and GRRM, Samantha Shannon is decimating the patriarchy one powerful chapter at a time. I applaud her. From the small tokens of having one of the central empires being referred to as a “Queendom” to empowering quote after quote reminding us that we are enough, and we deserve better.
At the same time, I don’t feel like this is so female-driven that it wouldn’t hold appeal for other genders. It has a healthy balance of genders and sexualities across the wide cast of characters, meaning that every part will hold appeal for someone. Naturally, I had favourites, but unlike A Song of Ice and Fire, I didn’t find myself skipping certain chapters because I wanted to read and know and experience the whole universe Shannon created.
Complex, fully-formed characterisation across a varied ensemble – So in terms of characters, I’m going to say that Samantha creates an ensemble which is a cross between Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows and GRRM’s A Song of Ice and Fire. She tells the story from a close third-person perspective of four narrators (all of whom I will talk about in more detail in a moment), reminiscent of Bardugo’s style of storytelling, while the narrators spend most of the book apart, much like GRRM’s narrators. Not only that, but the entire cast, both narrators and otherwise, are incredibly diverse in terms of both race and sexuality.
- Ead Duryan / Eadaz du Zāla uq-Nāra (West) – the central narrator and easily my favourite character. Ead is a lady-in-waiting to Queen Sabran Berethnet, ward of the Ambassador uq-Ispad of Lasia. However, her real name is Eadaz, a spy and bodyguard sent by The Priory of the Orange Tree to protect the Queen. Basically, a magical assassin / dragonslayer / bodyguard.
- Tané of the South House (East) – an orphan, now warrior raised to one day join the ranks of the Miduchi, famous dragon rider’s of Seiiki. Early on in the book she achieves this dream and is paired with her dragon aka the best character ever. More on her later.
- Lord Arteloth ‘Loth’ Beck (West) – A Lord of Inys, banished from his homeland for being too close to Queen Sabran, his childhood best friend, undertaking his own adventure in neighbouring Yscalin to save his country. During her time in Inys, Ead had also become good friends with him.
- Niclays Roos (East) – A scholar from Mentadon, exiled from Inys and banished from all the family he has left in the world. Now residing in Seiiki, he is bitter and resentful of the Queen, craving the lover he lost many years before. Also uses banging insults, such as, ‘witless cabbage’.
CHARACTERS TO WATCH
- Queen Sabran IX of the House Berethnet – Queen of Inys and Queen of my heart. Sab is arguably the most powerful character in this book – she made me laugh, cry, love, grieve and so much more. The House of Berethnet has been the ruling house of Inys, a Queendom ruled only by Queens since the Saint defeated the Nameless One. The legacy of her rule, saying that the most evil dragon of all time, the Nameless One, cannot rise while a Berethnet sits on the throne of Inys, bears down on her. Sab is everything.
- Nayimathun – an Eastern dragon, viewed as a God by the Seiikinese, and the dragon who chose Tané to be her rider. Nayimathun is wise and her words are so powerful they are already tattooed on my body. Yes, she talks. The dragons talk. More about dragons later.
- Lord Kitson Glade – Best friend of Loth who journeys with him to Yscalin, comedic relief to this heavy story and all round nice guy.
- Aralaq – OKAY BUT THE CREATURES OWN THIS BOOK. Aralaq is Ead’s good friend from childhood growing up in the Priory, he is an ichneumon and he is great. Again, a talking creature and he gives me life.
In depth world-building of multiple cultured inspired by both Eastern and Western history – It’s no secret the level of detail Samantha put in to researching this novel. If you search her twitter, you will find multiple threads on history, etymology and in-depth details of everything she has created here. Let’s talk about the world, each country is based on a different region in a particular period of history. For example, Inys is based on Elizabethan England and the myth of George and the Dragon, while Seiiki is based in Japanese lore. Yscalin has a very classical Italian feel about it while reading, though that is something I am projecting. Each country is incredibly well thought out and diverse, with it’s own history and laws. This book is honestly a feat of majesty.
D R A G O N S – I’m sure by now you’re aware that this book is about dragons, specifically a war between Virtudom (Inys, Yscalin, Mentendon and Hróth) and the Nameless One, a Western dragon defeated by the Saint and buried beneath the Esyr. The premise of the novel is that the Nameless One is returning and everyone is trying to stop this happening. Therefore we have the evil draconic beings, these include wyverns, cockatrices, amphiptere, ophitaurs, jaculi and basilisks, and they generally reside in the West. Then there’s the Eastern dragons, the ‘good’ dragons who are revered as Gods in Seiiki and ridden by the chosen of Clan Miduchi. The level of detail Samantha puts into these beings, and all the mythical beings throughout the novel, is exceptional and intriguing. They add so much to the world and let’s not forget… the dragons talk.
Central sapphic relationship – I realise this was kept quiet for a long time and a lot of people were surprised to hear this but I have been trying to shout about it for months. THIS BOOK FEATURES AN F/F RELATIONSHIP AND AT LEAST ONE OF THEM IS BISEXUAL. Yes, you heard me, queer ladies. I don’t want to talk too much about this because I want you to discover the beauty of this relationship for yourself, but let me tell you, this is possibly one of the most beautiful and heart-wrenching slow-burn romances I’ve ever read and 100% my favourite F/F. I cannot tell you how in love with them I am.