Niamh’s WLW Book Recs: The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Samantha Shannon’s sprawling epic fantasy seems to be the biggest spring blockbuster in lesbian fiction, so I thought I would take a deeper look and plunged into the 800-page fantasy.

Check out this new #wlw book rec of The Priory of the Orange Tree by @say_shannon Click To Tweet

About the Author:

Samantha Shannon was born in West London in 1991. She started writing in abundance when she was twelve, started her first novel when she was fifteen, and studied English Language and Literature at St Anne’s College, Oxford, from 2010 – 2013, graduating with a 2:1. She specialised in the poetry of Emily Dickinson and Principles of Film Criticism. In 2013, she published The Bone Season, the internationally bestselling first installment in a seven-book series of fantasy novels. Its first sequel, The Mime Order, was published in 2015, and she’s currently editing the third book in the series, The Song Rising. She is also the author of On the Merits of Unnaturalness and The Pale Dreamer, and has recently sold a new high fantasy novel, The Priory of the Orange Tree, to Bloomsbury.

Follow on Twitter: @say_shannon

Lesbian Main Character:✔️

Not just one, there are several queer characters and the book is set in a world in which most of the cultures presented are casually accepting of same sex relationships.


An enthralling, epic fantasy about a world on the brink of war with dragons – and the women who must lead the fight to save it.

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.


Rich and detailed this is a fantasy for fantasy fans. A sprawling story covering 800 pages, there is deep world building, strong character arcs, queer relationships, and dragons.

What the Critics are saying: ★★★★✰

Shannon’s strengths are her graphic world-building and the presentation of the queendoms, their different traditions and beliefs; her control of a large cast of characters; and the skill with which she brings the intersecting storylines to a satisfying climax.

Eric Brown – Guardian

As such, the novel works so well as an intricately realized and feminist fantasy that one might even be tempted to dub Samantha Shannon, “The female George R.R. Martin.”

Michal Schick – Hypable

Ultimately, though, while The Priory of the Orange Tree does reckon complete-in-a-single-volume in its favour, I can’t recommend it unless you have a lot of patience to reach a payoff that’s only middlingly well done.

Liz Bourke –

What the audience is saying? ★★★★★


Richly-interwoven epic fantasy evincing present-day issues” – Amazon Customer

Riveting from Start to Finish and I Can’t-Wait to Reread” – Amazon Customer

You’ll like this book if you like:

Epic, and I mean EPIC fantasy stories. This is a book that is baroque in its prose. Every detail is richly painted, and for those thirsting for those extra details, desperate to drink up every last drop of poetry, this book will be the long drink they have been waiting for.

However, for those who prefer light, trippy, fast-paced adventure stories in which the narrative is light, fast and spare. You will struggle.

Overall: Would Recommend to The Right Reader

If you love books with dragons, and women who love women, then why not check out my blog on 19 Amazing Books for Queer Girls and Lesbians Who Need More DRAGONS in Their Lives! (Plus a FREE Bonus!)

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