The Priory of the Orange Tree

Narrated by: Liyah Summers
Length: 25 hrs and 52 mins
4 out of 5 stars (1,680 ratings)

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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

Editor's Pick

The balance of familiar and novel is the mark of a new favorite
"There is a wave of excitement around this book. Written by the author of The Bone Season trilogy, it’s a new and fully fleshed out fantasy world filled to the brim with dragons and complex characters. Shannon has outdone herself, and listeners will be pulled through the story inexorably as they fall deeper into lives of the three main characters. Personally, I’m here for this because it strikes that middle ground between familiar and new that, as a longtime fantasy listener, I’m always searching for. It’s both a classic epic fantasy and a breakout from the genre with its deep inclusion of diverse characters and an abundance of female perspectives. Plus a fresh new narrator in Liyah Summers! Let’s do this."
Melissa B., Audible Editor

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What listeners say about The Priory of the Orange Tree

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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

192 people found this helpful

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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.

89 people found this helpful

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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.

88 people found this helpful

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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.

76 people found this helpful

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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.

69 people found this helpful

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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.

27 people found this helpful

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Save your credit

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

25 people found this helpful

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Terrible performance

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

62 people found this helpful

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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.

65 people found this helpful

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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.

41 people found this helpful

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  • Debbie Flint
  • 04-24-19

Shame about pronunciation

Anyone making it as far as my review, please note you should listen to this audiobook straight away and if you don’t get on with it, you can ask for a refund within seven days.

With so many new unusual names, places, and other organisations, in true brilliant Samantha Shannon style, it was essential to get an excellent narrator. Sadly despite pretty good accents mostly, this narrator does not have what it takes with frequent mispronunciations of certain words that take your head out of the book whilst you work out what it is supposed to be. ‪Wish I’d gone for actual book. Hard to listen to. Eg ‘drought instead of draught (draft). ‘Her conversation’ instead of ‘her conversion etc. Shame.‬

This is the email I sent to audible -
Hi I usually buy a lot of books and then gradually get through them. You will see that from my record.

Sadly the Priory of the orange tree has the worst narrator I have heard in a long while. For all the reasons listed on the many bad reviews.
Eg
POMndah instead of PomANDer
Intelligent (sah) Instead of ‘intelligenzia’
Atonomist instead of anatomist
Acrostic instead of agnostic
Drought instead of draught (draft)
She does some quite good accents, but her male voices are very poor and the key voice of the Dragon just sounded like someone taking the mick.

Is there anyway you can let Samantha Shannon and the producer know that she should re-record this as it will just continue to get terrible reviews and I’m sure people will get refunds? I loved her other books, the bone season series, but cannot get past the terrible pronunciation by this awful narrator. Her dialogue is 3/5 but her pronunciation of some of the words is 0/5, and her ability to appear as though she has never even heard some of the (regular English) words before, is unbelievable.

I note this is the first book on audible that this narrator has done, I hope it’s the only one. I will be avoiding her like the plague

82 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-23-19

Worst narrator ever

The men sounded just the same as the women, it’s that bad in places! I wish this could be recorded again.

30 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-02-19

I really don’t like the narration!

This is the worst audio book I’ve downloaded. The readers diction is at times really bad, and then goes back to bein’ ok. It makes it quite hard to listen to! I wish I’d read it!!

20 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-29-19

Awful narration

Managed a force myself through a few hours of the awful narration before giving up entirely. I'll go and buy the book so I don't have to listen to the terrible accents and constant mispronounciations...

14 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Aimee
  • 03-07-19

Great story let down by poor narration

The narrator constantly mispronounced words e.g. heretic and edict and gave one character an American accent which felt very out of place. Its a shame because the story was otherwise very enjoyable.

41 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • AF
  • 05-13-19

Disappointing!

A mediocre story which never quite allowed me to suspend disbelief. Maritime and battle scenes in particular were shoddy. If the world had been as well described as the protagonists costumes, it would have much better.
The narrator had a lovely voice but awful character accents which killed it completely for me. Hearing a court noble speaking in an East Yorkshire accent to an Eastern Emperor with a John Wayne drawl was excruciating!
In the end, the only reason I finished it was out of sheer bloody mindedness and the expectation of expressing my pain in this review.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-28-19

really looking forward to this but

the narrator is coming across as amateurish which has detracted from the story. we have stopped listening to it.

46 people found this helpful

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  • Kevin Smith
  • 03-11-19

Promising story, couldn’t get past the narrator

I really really wanted to listen to this story but I just couldn’t get past the poor narration.

I found it hard to differentiate between characters. You would jump between main characters but as the voices were all the same it was hard to tell that the focus had changed.

A number of words were pronounced wrong which grated a bit

That said I persevered for 10 hours and the story does seem good. I will definitely pick this up for my kindle so I can continue the story

17 people found this helpful

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  • Suoid
  • 05-31-19

A journey I wish had never ended

There is 25 hours of beautifully weaved narrative brought to life in audio with distinctly voiced and portrayed characters and I just wish there were another 25 more hours of it all

3 people found this helpful

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  • vincentr
  • 03-01-19

Stick with it, it's awesome!

I absolutely loved this! I got confused at first, but absolutely brilliant when I stuck with it. Magical story with strong female characters and fabulous narration!

10 people found this helpful

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  • Chris
  • 04-16-19

no access to maps

The story can be difficult to follow with so many characters and places. I believe the book had illustrated maps which would be helpful but don't come with the audiobook

6 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-05-20

Mispronunciation strikes again!

Once again, an overall interesting story is spoiled by consistent mispronunciation: this time of the word HERETIC. The narrator mispronounces this word "He-RETIC" with the focus on the RETIC. Maddeningly, she sometimes gets it right when she pronounces the word 'HERETICAL'. And even more annoying is that fact that I reckon the word appears and is mispronounced over 100 times! How can it be possible that Audible's producers don't pick stuff like this up, so I don't have to write reviews like this and instead focus on the merits of the book? (Strong female characters, interesting take on dragons etc...).

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-09-20

Had potential, but was disappointing.

Could not finish the book. Had potential. The narration of characters’ voices was often mangled, the wrong words used in the wrong context, and words being mispronounced, made for a jarring experience.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Sweetheart1
  • 04-07-19

loved it

the narrator struggled a bit with certain voices but overall this was a thoroughly enjoyable book :)

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Estinne
  • 10-30-19

Great story, annoying reader

I really wanted to fall into the world of "Priory of the Orange Tree". The characters are refreshing and well written, especially the lead women. The fantasy is new and unlike the standard fare for the genre. But the narrator, though British, struggles with the proper pronunciation of certain words and it really takes you out of the story at times. As others have mentioned, she seems to over-extend herself with the accents too.
Would be 5 stars with a different narrator.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Gemma
  • 06-11-19

Compelling listening

Took a bit to get into, but once in I was engrossed. I didn't love the narrator but got used to her cadence, and she did a decent job of a long book.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Debbie G.
  • 06-03-19

Just interesting. Badly read

It might sound strange but when the reader says bought instead of brought- it's very distracting. I'm not sure if it was written this way- I highly doubt it- but she read it that way every time.
It's very involved
It might be better the second time around ??

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-06-20

Great Story, Awful Reading

A fantastic story about dragons and medieval politics tarnished by horrific accents and childish voices.
if you can push past that then it's a great read

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Nathalie
  • 07-27-20

Did not finish

Narrating is difficult, and unfortunately this narrator proves it. I wasn't a fan of her cadence and unfortunately the accent couldn't allure me. She certainly has to practice more with different voices, if this is what she aims for; if not, perhaps it's better to do the narration without trying different voices and accents for each different character.

The story itself was also a bit tricky to follow. I found myself not caring for the characters. They fell a bit flat for me.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-05-20

Interesting story but poor narration

Good story, with interesting magic system but the narrator’s voices turned the characters into caricatures at times. It really pulled me out of the story and made me feel like a child being read to by an overexcited teacher.