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.
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.
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. “