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Triage of a Novel: The Priory of the Orange Tree

Across the Room: I’ve been following Samantha Shannon on both Instagram and Twitter for about a year now. At first, I was hesitant at reading such a huge book, but I’m so glad I bit the bullet with it! The world building, characters, cultures, etc. I just love how she was able to bring so much conflict without the blood and gore (though there is plenty of that as well). Check out my assessment below:


Temperature: Normothermic. There’s an excellent balance between the gritty realities of war, and the whimsical elements of dragons and magic.

Heart Rate: Normal Rate, occasional Arrhythmia. The pacing of this tale is *almost* perfect. The reason I say "almost", however, is due to the mild amount of slow pacing and middle fluff. There were a couple of scenes, and part of a storyline, even, that felt a touch unnecessary.

Blood Pressure: Normotensive. The plot, despite the massive size and multiple POV characters, was easy to follow. While predictable every once in a while, the way Shannon sets up the foreshadowing, it’s almost like she wants you to predict what’s going to happen at that specific time. It’s sneaky, and rewarding at the same time.

Respirations: Regular Rate and Rhythm. I got so invested with the majority of these characters, I found myself rooting for those who should otherwise not be rooted for! The amount of detail Shannon puts into her characters’ backstories and personalities is just…it’s wonderful.

Oxygenation: Well-Oxygenated. The world building is exquisite. I can see, taste, hear, and smell just about everything that’s going on with the way she describes the atmosphere of each location. It’s like I’m actually there!

Work of Breathing: No shortness of breath. I had no problem staying immersed in this story!


Family: Fantasy

Medical: While there were some inevitable typos—I mean, it’s an 800+ page novel, for crying out loud—I didn’t notice anything that was detrimental to the story as a whole. There weren’t any major plotholes or inconsistencies that I found to make me question what was going on. I was just along for the ride.

Psychiatric: The dynamics of each character relationship and how they interact with each other made everything seem that much more real! I loved the platonic friendships between some of the men and women, as well as the surprise romances and friends-to-enemies/enemies-to-friends.

Socio-economic: Marketed adequately.

Head to Toe Assessment

Head and Face: Ok. The cover alone made me pick up the book. The black/blue dragon against the bright orange fire in the background! The amazing texture of the dragon’s scales! Need I go on? The blurb all but pulled me in like a siren pulls in unwary sailors!

Neck: Oh goodness, the first paragraph was my doom. I was hooked. I think I finished parts one *and* two in one sitting.

Chest: There wasn’t a single "inciting incident" that I could point out, partly because of the large cast of characters. However, with each storyline/subplot, the overarching series of events was hard to ignore. I loved how seamlessly each character’s call to action was woven into the overall plot at large.

Abdomen and Flanks: Each adventure was well-paced and believable. While I had a hard time with the alchemist’s storyline—I felt it might’ve been a bit unnecessary at times—it wasn’t to the detriment of the novel. There were a couple of plot points in that sub-plot that were definitely major events, but I feel that the massive amount of page-time this character had was a little overdone. That said, the plot moved at such a balanced pace, that the length of the book itself was less and less of an issue than I would’ve thought.

Perineum: Ah, the breaking point of each character. Considering there was enough consequence of side characters—and POV characters, now that I think about it—I never felt that there was any overdone plot armour for each person in this book. With that said, there were a couple of pieces that felt a little far-fetched, but it didn’t deter me from the overall novel. The stakes were high enough for my anxiety to pique, but not so high that Shannon needed to rely on some random Deus ex Machina to get her protagonists out of a bind.

Extremities: Oof. This was epic. I just couldn’t put the book down after that. The buildup to this climactic battle was so well done, and never over-stretched. Yes, the main villain that’s been hyped up didn’t get much more than a score of pages, but any more than that, and it would’ve been exhausting. I loved it.

Backside: The falling action and ending. Wow, so many open ends, but it was also so satisfying. I love how Shannon leaves room for potential sequels, and enough mystery for a myriad of spinoffs. I hope she expands this world she’s built, because I think I might’ve found a new favourite fandom—to add to Midderland by Abercrombie and Middle Earth by Tolkien, of course.

Prognosis: Excellent (5 stars)

Thanks so much for reading this week's Triage! Next week, I will be tackling book two in Evan Winter's The Burning series, "The Fires of Vengeance". Have an amazing weekend, and, as always,

Stay safe. Stay sane. Keep healthy. Keep smiling. Much love!

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