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Publisher's Summary

A world divided.
A queendom without an heir. 
An ancient enemy awakens. 

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction - but assassins are getting closer to her door. 

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic. 

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained to be a dragonrider since she was a child but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel. Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

©2017 Bloomsbury (P)2019 Audible, Ltd

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What listeners say about The Priory of the Orange Tree

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Underwhelming

This story had me so excited... a Queendom on the brink of war, dragons and mages, pirates and assassins! But I was just so bored and confused. I couldn't keep the names of characters or places straight and struggled to understand what was going on for a lot of the story.

I kept wanting to give up on it, but convinced myself it would get better. I can't say it did, unfortunately. This is now the second book by this author that I have read, and I didn't enjoy the other one either. I don't think this authors story telling is my cup of tea....

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • J
  • 2020-01-05

A slow burn for a story with this many dragons

Let’s start Positive:

Elements of the story are quite progressive for the fantasy genre. There are 4 point of view characters: 2 women and 2 men. One of the characters is a lesbian, another is a gay man. The warriors/heroes of the story are the two women. There are strong messages in the book. I’m reminded specifically of 3 quotes, one which is about the term “barren” and how it is applied to both fields and women. Another quote was “No woman should be made to fear that she was not enough.” The final quote I’m remembering was about women being more than a womb in need of seeding. These are important messages but the delivery of each one felt a little too much on the nose.

The examination of religion and the history of different religions was interesting as well.

Now the Negative:

One of the four point of view characters, the straight man, was incredibly boring. All of his chapters except a handful were very dry!

Another negative deals with the plot. The plot is very traditional and not progressive, which was surprising given the progressive elements discussed above. Essentially, there is a big bad guy, well actually a dragon, who terrorized the world 1000 years ago and he is going to come back. This big baddie is ominously referred to as The Nameless One. In order to stop him the heroes must go on heroes’ quests to collect magic stones and a magic sword. Only the male characters ever seemed to be at risk of dying, I never once thought the female characters wouldn’t make it to the end of the book. It was very obviously they would play a key role in the climax.

Some people have said the book was long enough to make a trilogy, but I cannot agree with that. The first half of the book is very slow, and even boring at times. There was nowhere to break it up. If it was a trilogy the first book would have bored nearly everyone and there would have likely been few sales of the second book.

The book does pick up at the halfway point, but it never becomes a fantastic read. Essentially, the book was good, but it is not the be all, end all that some people have been making it out to be.

Narration:

The narrator, Liyah Summers, may one day be great, but she still needs practice. She was very understandable when doing the credits at the end of the book, but when narrating she put on an accent that was difficult to follow,. For the first quarter of the book I would mishear/misunderstand at least one word in 300, it was very frustrating. I had to get a physical copy from the library to sometimes check what had been said. For example, there is a character in the book named Sabran, but Summers said her name like “Ser Bronn,” and I kept wondering what a Song of Ice and Fire character was doing in this book. Sabran is a Queen, but hearing "Sir Bronn" kept making me thing of her as a knight, not a queen.

Another example is of a line that read “The Red Damsels elected Mita Yedanya” but I kept hearing “The Red Damsels elected me to the Danya” and I had no idea what was going on. By the halfway point I had learned to understand Summers.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Well done epic fantasy novel for everyone

Often, you can get lost or overwhelmed by the genre of fantasy as it can be full of detail. Shannon's latest book is written to remove that despite it being a large novel. I overall enjoyed my experience even though it had a slow build up but as I read more I slowly found myself wanting more.

The narrator does a well job, my only criticism was that there were certain accents that are not as easily digestible or consistent. But she did a great job in making each character their own.

It is a definite read and reread.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

love love loved it

first off, the voice actor. absolutely amazing, I was in awe the whole time. before I got to know the character names I knew who was who by the distinct voices she gave them.
now the actual story, it was wonderful, all the characters were so full of life and depth and I love that lgbt relationships are seen as normal and accepted, it's such a breath of fresh air for the conflict to NOT be "everyone thinks homosexuality is gross"
the pacing changes quite a bit towards the end and that could've easily ruined the climax of the story but instead it felt like it matched the growing anxiety of the characters and made sense.
10/10 I'll be looking for more books from this author for sure

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    5 out of 5 stars

Innovative, interesting, compelling, and thematically cohesive

This is a breath of fresh air after reading some mainstream epic fantasy (Sanderson). Priory of the Orange Tree is concerned with communicating large themes not usually touched on. It’s feminist. Badass. Impressively ambitious and cohesive. It is such a satisfying read.

Every piece of worldbuilding dropped is actually pertinent to the plot and the characters. The characters actions and choices genuinely feel like they shaped the story. The prose itself are quite accessible, but the specificity and verbiage is just fantastic mastership of language. It’s intuitive, especially if you read fantasy, while feeling different and interesting. Everything is well thought out.

Setting wise, while things are somewhat simple in so far as views are usually diametrically opposed, probably so it isn’t even longer, every viewpoint is The Point of the story. The ways in which important aspects of culture—especially pertaining to those who hold ‘real’ power—are constructed and what they stem from, as well as the ways in which culture is similar and opposed, is the tension and focus of the story. And I like stories that are About something. As this undeniably is, imo.

Some people are overly concerned with hard magic systems. Personally, I do not care to know every single goddamn facet of something like magic. The cool thing about magic, to me, is that it is rooted in subjectivity. This system does have limitations along with its power. It’s evocative as hell. Maybe the most evocative magic, especially considering the high themes of the novel. I like that there is still mystery around it till the end.

Character work is fantastic. Especially became every paragraph has a point, it easily propelled me to read slower sections. It is extremely rich, sometimes dense, but when things are cohesive, and you know this as a reader, I find that pacing fades into the background because I simply wanted to know more about the world. I didn’t feel like more things needed to happen because for the tension and payoff of the ending to really work, those details are necessary. It’s truly good.

And the cherry on top? Well written women and queer folx, and a nice big middle finger to fantasy fans that think racism and prejudice needs to be present in order for the world to feel “real” or “accurate”. This does a great job of displaying how stakes, tension, and conflict are all present without the psychotic need to replicate western cultural norms. It’s honestly a remarkable achievement and it’s slightly annoying that people quibble over small things in this whole glossing over just how different and interesting and innovative it is when compared to other selections in the genre.

At the very least this is asking interesting questions and not either being Needlessly edgy with anti heroes or the maybe there is no moral absolutism OR, moral absolutism. That’s basically all the big writers seem to want to explore. This is far more compelling, and frankly, intelligent.

I’m actually mad at myself for looking at reviews back when I saw the hardcover for cheap on bookoutlet. It’s so good and I want it. Hopefully they get it in stock again sometime in the future. Ugh.

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an epic fantasy series in 1 book

amazing pacing. it feels like this book tells what would normally be a trilogy, yet somehow it doesn't seems rushed.

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Absolutely stunning

The best book I've ever listened to / read. Beautiful prose with an expansive world and plot. Narrator is fantastic and the story brilliant.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Fantastic Fantasy

Wonderful book, and the narrator does fantastic work. The world is vivid and the metaphors and prose used are delightful, to say the least.

*SPOILERS BELOW*

Finally, we can bury the 'bury your gays' trope...

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

fantastical

struggled a bit at the beginning as the reader wasn't easy to listen too, persevered and got used to her....the tale was worth it!

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Amazing book!

I was sick and couldn't read for a couple of weeks. Somehow, I managed to download audible, and The Priory of the Orange Tree and I was blown away by this brilliantly constructed tale of adventure, magic, love and growth. I admit it took me a few chapters to get used to all the characters and places, but the captivating story soon took me over.

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  • Kevin Potter
  • 2019-03-09

In a word, WOW

If you thought Brandon Sanderson had a corner on standalone epic fantasy then you're in for a surprise with this one!

As usual, let me start with the narrator.
I've never listened to an audiobook read by Liyah Summers before, and after hearing this I can't understand why! She is absolutely one of the top talents in the business.

She has impressive vocal range, giving us a wonderful assortment of voices, and even her male voices are widely varied and sound amazing! Her skill with accents is likewise incredible.

She varies her pace to be a reflection of the events she's describing, which provides an excellent tempo throughout the book, and her vocal inflections are damn near perfect!


Now, as the story begins there is a bit of a learning curve as we're dropped right in the middle of several different characters in different places doing different things and it does take a bit of time to acclimate to the nuances of each character and location.

And I love it!

One of my biggest complaints about so many fantasy novels is the over explaining. I don't need twelve minutes of exposition to explain the context behind the events you're about to describe. Just describe them and let me draw my own conclusion.

Blessedly, there is very little to none of that in this book!

Samantha Shannon has built a wonderful world here with deep, rich history (not all of which is known or true), complicated political atmospheres, fascinating mythology, and some startling revelations.

At first, it seemed she had committed the (to my thinking) sin of making all dragons evil. But it turns out the world is a whole lot more complex than that.

There is a part of me that's tempted to compare this book to A Game of Thrones, as there are definite similarities (largely in that court intrigue is a massive part of the story). There is a problem with drawing that comparison, however.

In short, this book is better. Way better. In every way.

The pointless, senseless brutality, vulgarity, violence, and sexual assault are absent. What brutality and vulgarity there is always serves a purpose.

The storyline is way more concise, without the meandering and randomness.

And frankly, the writing is just better. Orders of magnitude better.

I can't say I'm entirely on board with the magic system, as I'm not overly fond of magic sources being external to the user (I have the same problem with GoT and many others). However, it is interesting.

Elsewise, the closest thing I have to a criticism is the profusion of matriarchal cultures/societies. So far as I can tell, the world seems to have numerous matriarchies but only one patriarchy. And none that treat both gender with equal merit.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think fantasy needs to be all about gender equality or anything, it just strikes me as a little odd that all these human societies are so strongly weighted toward female rule.

In the end, whatever excites you about epic fantasy, you'll find it here.

We have court intrigue galore, reversals, twists, secrets, and mysteries at every turn. We have deep, rich history, epic battles, phenomenal magical items, and genuinely heartfelt moments, both sweet and passionate.

In short, this is the single best standalone fantasy I have ever read. You can't go wrong with this one.

233 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Eric Suchyta
  • 2019-03-05

Rich world evincing present-day issues

Samantha Shannon masterfully constructs a fantasy world underscoring many of the same issues important today -- feminism, religion and the dangers of fanaticism, distrust of outsiders, etc. Notably, the story takes place in a sophisticated, complex political climate, where there are not simple answers to everyone working together in harmony, ringing true to the globe today. Personal identity themes are also embedded throughout -- homosexuality, religion/skepticism, and the value of friendship to name a few. It's intriguing how much of society is matriarchal, allowing Shannon to explore a world where misogyny has not abounded for centuries. The story itself is very well interwoven between many characters and lands, and I found myself completely engrossed. You might feel a little confused and overwhelmed at the beginning because there are a lot of names and places to digest, but as you keep reading it all builds, connects, and becomes interwoven.

While I agree the narrator is not my favorite ever, I don't agree she's the worst ever. Some characters do sound similar, but not all. It took me a little time to get used to her delivery, but some subtleties grew on me as I listened more. I think she does a reasonable job getting across certain personality traits and drawing my attention to them, such as Ead's growing willingness to stand up to authority and Roos' disgruntled state in his perceived failures.

I listen to a lot of fantasy, and would recommend this one as worth your time.

97 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Kim U
  • 2019-04-04

Okay story, really poor narration

I combined listening to the audiobook of this with reading the ebook to get through it. I don't know why this monster of a book (25+ hours in audiobook form!) was narrated by someone who appears to be a first-time audiobook narrator, but it was a poor choice. At first, the narration issues seemed to mainly be related to narration pacing, which seemed really off-tempo compared to most other audiobooks that I've listened to - fast at points, slow at points, very inconsistent. But as the book continued, the accent choices became rather bizarre - inconsistent across characters from the same regions, and eventually inconsistent even for the same characters. Overall, the story was okay, although really in need of some substantial editing. There were so many storylines, and although the author tried to weave them together as the book progressed, it just came out a bit jumbled. The first half of the book was incredibly strong (other than the narration), but it really dragged on. I feel like my experience of this book is negatively influenced by the audiobook narration.

112 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • NCKitkat
  • 2019-03-23

Read, don’t listen

The narrator uses accents and voices; one voice was particularly grating; and fake Southern accents and Scottish accents just don’t belong in this story. The story is ok, but I like her other books much better.

91 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Kindle Customer
  • 2019-03-22

Can't stand the narrator

Her accents and voices are inconsistent and all over the place. Her pacing is terrible. The performance is so bad that it's distracting me from the story. Looks like I'll be reading this one only.

81 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-03-14

Strong start, weak finish

First half was pretty decent, with believable characters and a believable world, even if the "politics" were weak. Unfortunately halfway through the author realized she wanted to only write a single book after which proceeds a chain of events just happening to come together perfectly where an alliance between nations was coordinated in a week or so. The other flaw is her idea of character development is the character staying exactly the same until some event happens, after which their personality instantly changes, but then goes back sometimes. The narrator caught too much flak in other reviews. Although she was bad, it was bearably so (for the most part. Some voices didn't fit the characters whatsoever.
Overall, don't waste your credit, you'll just be disappointed from hour 15 onward.

35 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-05-25

Save your credit

This book started ok, but the story hinged on too many fateful rescues and coincidences.

30 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Dan
  • 2019-03-06

Terrible performance

Couldn’t handle more than 10 minutes... the reader ruined it for me. Thank god for Audible’s return policy!!

73 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-03-12

Narrator lacks any vocal modulation.

The narrator has a lovely deep voice but she makes no attempt to vovally differentiation between characters, scenes, or emotion. The recording's editor compounded the problem by failing to make a pause to designate transition between the scenes The result is a soporific syrup of words that fails on every level to enliven Shannon's narrative.

77 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Sharon
  • 2019-03-28

Extremely disappointed

I love Samantha Shannon, but this was not her best. It could have been the narrator making it worse than it really was, sometimes narrators can change a perspective in a book. I did not like the narrator as you can probably figure out, and I am saddened by this, perhaps the book would’ve been made better with a different voice. I love Audible‘s attention to the selectionnarration of books. It is not often when this happens where a narrator does not bring out the best in a book. Thanks to Audible‘s return policy a gift they have given to their long time and new subscribers alike, I was able to recover and perhaps save this credit for a better book.

49 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • al
  • 2020-07-01

Great story but horrid accent

I really enjoyed the story. I especially liked that the author relied on strong female leads and gay/lesbian characters. There is no violence against women as there is in other fantasy books. However the listening part was horrid. The accent is absolutely awful and really damages the story. I would recommend you read this story rather than listen to it.

1 person found this helpful