Pick of the Day

Something Tragic by Jessica Yeh

⭐⭐⭐⭐☆★ There are some books that hold you in a thrall of emotions that they create long after you’ve finished them. You have emotions...

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

⭐⭐⭐⭐☆★

A breathtakingly brilliant fantasy book of epic proportions that is addictive and just simply – awesome.

A thousand years ago, the Nameless One, a fire breathing dragon birthed from the volcanic bowels of the earth, had wreaked havoc on the world during what is now known as the Grief of Ages. Legend has it that Galian Berethnet, wielding Ascalon (a mythical sword) defeated the Nameless One and bound it in the Abyss.

The family of Berethnet rules Inys, a Queendom. It is believed that for as long as a Berethnet queen is on the throne, the Nameless One cannot return. However, the current queen Sabran shows no inclination towards marriage and procreation. Loth is Sabran’s dearest friend since childhood, but Sabran’s council believes that his presence is the hindrance in Sabran’s nuptials. They believe that Sabran is involved with Loth and therefore refuses proposals from other kings and kingdoms. Inys and all its allies are singularly anti-dragons considering them all evil.

Seiiki is a kingdom that worships water dragons who are the natural enemies of the fire-breathing dragons. Tané, a Seiikian, has a dream of becoming a dragon-rider and protecting the world. She has spent her whole life dreaming this dream and preparing for it. She won’t let anyone or anything derail her ambition.

Niclays Roos is an alchemist and an anatomist. He had promised Sabran an elixir of eternal life but spent his time and her money drinking. Sabran exiled him for his false promise and his transgressions and after seven years in the tiny island Orisima, Roos harbours a special hate for Sabran.

Ead is ostensibly one of Sabran’s ladies-in-waiting. Ead is a member of The Priory of the Orange Tree, a group that knows the truth of the Nameless One’s defeat and binding. She is in Inys to protect Sabran from harm without making her background known.

Signs point towards the Nameless one rising again and the world is in grave danger. Divided by beliefs, by ambitions and by politics there seems to be no possibility of stopping the dreaded dragon if it rises again.

The scope of the book is huge and so are the number of characters. Strong women people all the kingdoms in the book. The story progresses following Tané, Roos, Ead and Loth. The worlds and kingdoms are richly described in terms of their geography, the people, their beliefs and culture. It all comes alive immersing you completely. Each character – minor and major, human and non-human – is fully realised. The book keeps crossing between stories of each character and carries you along in every single sentence, para and page. Realistically, the main characters are somewhat grey, particularly Tané and Roos, and can leave you with mixed feelings about them. Ead and Loth are easier, because they are fairly white all through.  

But, the heart of the book is definitely Sabran. Noble in her strength and her vulnerability; heart-tugging in her isolation and her honesty; captivating in her loving and her queenliness – Sabran is the core of the sweeping epic. She drives the book and the story. She is the one who captured us, stayed with us and made our heart throb.

The love story between Sabran and Ead is heart-warming, heart-breaking and heart-achingly beautiful. We absolutely LOVE the fact that this book has a Sapphic love story between the main characters of the tale at its centre instead of one of the supporting or minor characters representing alternative sexuality. Even Roos is gay.

This is a wonderful, wonder-filled and wondrous must-read. 

⭐⭐⭐⭐☆★

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