Review: The Priory of the Orange Tree, Samantha Shannon

Rating: 4 out of 5

A delightful book! This is especially true for the compact nature that allowed the author to summarise her story in one installation instead of three or five or ten! At the same time, there were some pleasant storylines to follow along with a few good character arcs.

I found some problems herein, however. The biggest of these was that the story seemed to speed up with every passing page. The chapters in the start of the story barely cover a day or few scenes, while those towards the end skim through a thousand miles and a few months. This imbalance is perhaps justified by the author in her only describing the “really important” parts though it is no doubt to me that the journeys the principal characters undertook to get to the endgame scenario are as important as any other events in their development.

There also exist some problems with the setup of the Berethnet kingdom and how it works amongst everything else. The patriarchy / matriarchy discussion is one of these though should probably be looked at in more depth. More concerning for me was the closed door policy that nearly every realm seemed to implement towards its other neighbours. In history, such policies are quite rare, and I did not see the real justification for these bear fruit in this work.

Therefore, there are some things that could have been smoothed over better and given a more complex (better) backstory. At the same time, I found the general plot enjoyable and satisfying, the female leads were a pleasure to read, and it all came together as a very good story.

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