Overview (No Spoilers):
It is rare to find an epic fantasy novel these days as ambitious as Priory of the Orange Tree that is not broken down into an extended series. Shannon managed to make this one and done book a work of art with an extensive, detailed literary world containing wildly diverse cultures. This read contained so many of the aspects regarding world building and depth of development that I love in fantasy literature, however despite the length, I felt as though this novel would have been better served to be divided into installments to better flush out some of the key buildups and interactions that must have occurred as the main battle was coming to a head. Also, likely due to the length constraints, there were several jumps of time that left the reader slightly jarred while trying to acclimate to the fast forward we’d just experienced. The main characters Shannon created were delightful in their complexity, however perhaps as a side effect of the effort directed toward protagonists, the side characters look longer to evolve past one dimensionality. Personally, I loved all the strong, bad ass female characters included throughout Priory of the Orange Tree. From riding dragons, to ruling nations and wielding magic the women of this realm, regardless of their background were refreshing, especially in a genre that is one of my favorites. Overall, Shannon wove a fantastic literary world that I can’t help but be disappointed is a stand alone novel as I would have love to see how she would have expanded this subject given more freedom regarding length. That being said, the weighty tome she delivered created an eloquent, detailed world that will keep the reader mindlessly flipping pages. I would have easily given this read a five out of five, however I was left with a lingering confusion regarding the outcome of several individuals at the conclusion, hence the lowered score.
Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):
- Ok, wait! What happened to Tharian Lintley? When we last see him Loth is detailed a scar that will leave him disfigured while detailing that he is lying motionless. Then Margarette turns to him and Loth says he is gone. Does he mean Lintley? Does he mean the Nameless One? Lintley is never mentioned again. So confused!
- Poor, poor Truyde! She was right all along and was never given the satisfaction of having the dream she and her lover concocted realized.
- Seyton Combe totally remined me of Game of Throne’s Varys, or perhaps Little Finger? We never knew whose side he was actually on other than his own.
- Kate never knew that Kitston was her secret admirer!
- Kalyba was actually one of the most intriguing characters for me in this series! I want to know more of her past!
- Was Gian Harlowe actually Sabran’s father?
- I wanted to like Nicolays Roos so badly, in the end I just pitied him. Although, his reunion with his lover’s wive brought tears to my eyes.
- Aubrecht II’s death was so surprising! How would the story have evolved had he lived?
- Was Chassar uq-Ispad actually Ead’s father? It was interesting the lack of father’s in this book. Was he punished or found out for helping Ead or Loth?
- How did Neporo’s family keep the jewel hidden for so long? Who would told Tane she even had it in her with her family gone, let alone that she needed to pass it along?
- Susa was another painful death. I loved Tane’s character and would have love to have more of an interaction between her and her dragon. Especially her dragon’s history. What happened to Turosa? He was another character whose fate was never really resolved.
- Ead was another fantastic character! I’m so curious about her childhood in the Priory! Also her return post her exile. Will her and Sabran find their long term happiness?
- It was implied that Loth would have a relationship with the Marosa? So much of a big deal was made regarding him being the heir of his house. How could he date her if he had to stay responsible for his house?
knave: a mean, evil, or unprincipled person
ensign: a device, design, or figure used as an identifying mark
orisons: an address to God or a deity