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Explore the world of The Priory of the Orange Tree with Samantha Shannon!

The first book in a new series by Samantha Shannon has hit our shelves and we're in love! With a vibrant world full of dragons, empires and action, it is unputdownable!

We are excited to have Samantha available to take us on a private tour around the world of The Priory of the Orange Tree.

"The Priory of the Orange Tree is set in a world that is both like and unlike ours. One of the books I used to research it was The Time Travellers’ Guide to Elizabethan England by Ian Mortimer. In a similar vein, I’d like to help the unwary traveller orient themselves in the fractured world I’ve spent the last three years building.

In CE 1005, the Kingdom of Hróth is the only country in the region known as the North. Ruled by the House of Hraustr, which triumphed in the War of the Twelve Shields, it is a land of deep forests, magnificent glaciers, and snowbound plains. Among its exports are forest glass and sunstone. If luck is with you, you might catch a glimpse of its famous rainbow lights in the sky.

Sail across the frigid Ashen Sea and you will find the Queendom of Inys, which has been ruled by the House of Berethnet for over a thousand years. Sabran the Ninth sits on its throne. Inys is where the faith of the Virtues of Knighthood was founded, and all other countries in Virtudom owe religious fealty to it. It is said that while the Berethnet bloodline endures, the Nameless One – the enemy of humankind – can never return. Express even a hint of doubt in this belief, and you may be charged with heresy.

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon OUT NOW

Inys is the northernmost nation in the West. The other two countries in this region are the Free State of Mentendon and the Kingdom of Yscalin, both situated on the continent of Edin. Mentendon is sworn to Virtudom, but Yscalin has renounced the faith and pledged allegiance to the Nameless One. King Sigoso has not been seen in public for some time, but his daughter, the Donmata Marosa, continues to hold court in the forbidding Palace of Salvation.

Mentendon is ruled by the House of Lievelyn, a relatively young dynasty that took power from the Vatten family. Aubrecht the Second is its High Prince, and its heir apparent is the eldest of his sisters, Princess Ermuna.

Travel further into Edin and you will find yourself in the warm climes of the South. The Domain of Lasia – a land of lush forests and broad, crashing rivers – and is ruled by the House of Onjenyu, the oldest of the royal dynasties. Lasia is well-known for its exquisite sculptures and copper jewellery. Somewhere in the Lasian Basin lies the Priory of the Orange Tree . . . but you will find it on no map. 

East of Lasia is the Ersyr, a desert nation, rich in skystone. Except for the occasional oasis and the Wareda Valley, which abounds with roses, the country is dry. The Tablet of Rumelabar, which contains a riddle that alchemists have endeavoured to solve for centuries, was discovered in the Sarras Mountains. A small river, the Bratar, runs from these mountains and pours into the Sea of Carmentum. Glittering on the seabed are thousands of treasures from the former Republic of Carmentum, which collapsed during the Grief of Ages.

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon is available in store & online now.

To see the rest of the world, you’ll need to board a sturdy ship in Ostendeur or Drayasta and cross the dark sea called the Abyss, which teems with all manner of strange creatures. Greatsquid and baleens may bump against your ship in the dead of night. Sometimes, if you listen hard, you may hear a syren calling.

The Sepul Peninsula has been virtually lawless for centuries, with its former capital, Kawontay, overrun by pirates. However, it’s also the only place you’ll be able to disembark in the East without the authorities detaining you. To keep out the Draconic plague, the Empire of the Twelve Lakes and its closest neighbour, Seiiki, have closed their ports to all outsiders. Should you make it into Seiiki, be careful not to go astray in the Forest of the Wounded Bird, or to climb too high into the foothills of the merciless Mount Tego. Instead, consider waiting on the black sands of Cape Hisan until dusk, when thousands of tiny sea creatures light up the shore. 

In the Empire of the Twelve Lakes, prepare to be dazzled by snow-capped mountain ranges, flower-peppered meadows, and of course, the lakes themselves. Stand by one for long enough, and you may see a pair of horns break the surface – a water dragon, unfurling from the depths. "

Immerse yourself in The Priory of the Orange Tree today! Available in stores and online now.

QBD Reviews: 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B Peterson

Clinical psychologist and academic, Doctor Jordan Peterson, has made a splash across bestseller lists with his book ’12 Rules for Life’. It has been called ‘Self-Help’, and it has been categorised in ‘Business’, but it leans much more toward a kind of personal-political manifesto; a response to a range of radical ideas that have been drifting into the mainstream over the last decade or so, much of it through the academy and publishing industry itself. He has upset people, chiefly, the pushers of these ideas. The ease and glibness with which Peterson is branded as a ‘right-winger’ or even a ‘nazi’ only goes further to prove his point of view regarding the ills he identifies, particularly in the fragmenting public sphere.

But aside from the politics, Peterson puts an importance on reading, and reading well - the kinds of books that have been foundational to how we have come about as a people and the underpinnings of us psychologically: a canon.

Naturally enough, these are books that have been around a while, what we would call ‘Classics’. His reading lists on the internet have been expanded several times, and have led to a distinct up-turn of interest in the Classics region of the bookshop. If Rowling has been thought of as being responsible for a renaissance in reading-for-children, is Peterson becoming responsible for a renaissance in reading for young-adults … and in classic indispensable canonic literature?

To go back is often a decent way to deal with discovering that you are going the wrong way, or that you are lost entirely. To be constantly progressive is only good if you have a decent idea of where you are progressing to ... and that you want to be there. These readers, many of whom have been abandoned by the contemporary publishing world, are finding that great books, unlike films or many other mediums of art, tend to become more relevant and more valuable the older they become. And they are very readily available.

Primary among these works for Peterson is Solzhenitsyn's ‘The Gulag Archipelago’, so much so that he will be contributing a new introduction to a fiftieth anniversary edition due out this November. It’s been out of print in most English-speaking countries for a number of years, so that fact that this great work is getting a fiftieth anniversary treatment at all could be down to him anyway.

Why is this book so important to Peterson? One reason he lists on his Patreon site:

It's necessary for all of us (the moderate left included) to determine exactly when and why the good intentions of the egalitarian-minded go so terribly wrong.

Solzhenitsyn's work focuses on the evils of the Soviet empire and its treatment of dissidents and criminals, political and otherwise. It is a profound, utterly gruelling and harrowing account based on the author’s own experience. It is plain and unadorned, letting the action speak for itself in all its bleak horror. By being concerned for ‘when’, Peterson hints that there might be a tipping point that serves us Stalinism, some kind of ongoing but, on the face of it, altruistic formula that at some point goes badly wrong when we fundamentally combine authoritarianism with collectivism. It is why he puts such an emphasis on personal responsibility in his own book. If you can’t change yourself for the better, just this one person, then what hope do you have in changing a society for the better? Is it any wonder the Gulags appear and get filled?

So it is certainly worth returning to a canon, and Peterson’s is a good one.

And while Peterson’s plain white book goes head to head with the bright orange-covered and playful ‘Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck’, he has no easy answers, and these books in the canon don’t offer the reader any quick fix either. They offer you a further and deeper relationship with yourself, a forthright art of giving a f*ck about yourself and how you might become even more so ... yourself.

Reviewsday: Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

Explosive from the first kindling down to the last ember. Krysten Ritter has a detailed imagination and, in her debut novel, she weaves a mysterious web.

Protagonist Abby Williams returns to her small county hometown of Barrens to investigate a case of corporate pollution in the reservoir. This case burns a little too bright and hits a little too close to home for Abby, and the fire begins to entrance her, leading her on a downward spiral towards the truth. She didn't really come home for the case, she came home in search of her missing school friend turned tormentor- Kaycee. And she'll walk through fire to find out what happened to her. Did she simply walk away from their hometown of Barrens? Or is there a dark secret waiting to be uncovered?

- Erin Glover

 

Author Guest Post: Serena Hodson Tells Us About Her New Book!

Photographer Serena Hodson takes beautiful colour photographs of man's best friend ... but her furry subjects are all upside down. Today, she tells us how she came up with the inspiration for her gorgeous new book 'Upside Down Dogs'.

"When I first got involved in photography, I saw it as a hobby – a way for me to record those magical moments that happen in an animal’s everyday life. At the time I was living with Rocco, my bullmastiff and my sister’s dachshund, Ralph. Their relationship was my inspiration and what I managed to capture drove me to take my photography seriously. I’ve always been an animal lover, but I never knew that passion would lead to my life’s purpose – photography. This creative outlet allows me to capture the joy dogs bring to my life and then share that with the world.

I believe every animal has a secret life – a unique personality that few people get to witness – that’s why I get so much satisfaction from capturing each individual animal’s expression. My aim is to capture that unique personality and humour that animals can bring into our lives. I believe a home isn’t complete without a companion animal.
Upside Down Dogs began with a simple idea – to capture the delight and joy of dogs in an upside down pose. The way dog’s lips and wrinkles drop towards gravity almost gives this impression they are smiling and their facial expressions offer an antidote to human stress.

My two bulldogs Simon and Garfunkel make me laugh every day – they bring an optimistic and fun-loving perspective to my day. A ride in the car is like a rollercoaster ride, a bowl of kibble is a delicious 5-star meal and rolling around on their backs is heaven on earth for them. This is where I saw my first glimpse of ‘Upside Down Dog’ captured in that unique moment of upside-down-bliss. Though this angle on dogs is original in publishing I think it’s familiar to anyone who lives with a dog.

Luckily my four-legged models are photogenic from any angle, especially when they are relaxed and happy with their place in the world (ie. on a bed). I wanted to photograph different breeds to allow a broad range of subjects to be captured for maximum audience appeal. Not every dog was comfortable to lie on their backs straight away while a complete stranger pointed an unusual object at them. Some took more time and calm energy to relax – others were not so shy and flopped like a sack of potatoes. The book was incredibly fun to make and I loved every minute from the more challenging subjects to manoeuvring enormous drooling Mastiffs on and off their backs. It was such a privilege to meet so many wonderful dogs and their humans.

I hope this book goes to the heart of why humans and dogs have such a wonderful symbiotic relationship and people visually enjoy as much as I did photographing it. I think we need dogs to help us find joy in everyday pleasures, and our dogs need us to make the bed so they can jump up and roll around."