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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.

Reviewsday: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

I’ve only read a couple of Holly Black’s books before picking up The Cruel Prince and while I enjoy the books before, I adored The Cruel Prince. From the very first page, I was entranced with the Fae world that Holly created. Second, guessing everything and not knowing what was going to happen next.

The Cruel Prince follows protagonist Jude ten years after she and her sisters witness their parents murder, are kidnapped and taken to the Fae world. Now they live in the High Court of Faerie and in a world that doesn’t accept them. Jude doesn’t fit into the Fae world and the fey don’t let her forget it. With the current King ready to step down, things are about to get more dangerous in the world that Jude lives.

One of my favourite things about The Cruel Prince was Jude. While she isn’t the most likeable protagonist out there, her voice and perseverance – just made the book. Jude is such an interesting protagonist and like most characters in the book, you don’t know what to believe. She has gone through a lot. Her parents were murdered in front of her, she lives with the murdered and is taken to a foreign world.

Her strength was a really big theme of the whole book. I loved seeing Jude stand up and be strong, no matter what was throw at her. And gosh she was pushed hard. At times it was really hard to read some of the things that Jude went through. What got me through it was Jude herself. I loved seeing another strong female character not only be challenged physically but mentally.

Jude’s family. There isn’t much I can say here without spoiling anything. But what I hoped wouldn’t happen did and that broke my heart. You can see that Jude does care for her sisters and what went down was so damn hard. It’s also a really interesting concept of family. She has her sisters, yes. However, she also lives with the man that killed her parents. It was intriguing to see the dynamic of this.

The Cruel Prince is filled with unreliable characters and it was fantastic! Seriously, I didn’t know what was going to happen next, because I didn’t know who to trust. Holly Black made her characters do things that I thought she would never do. You think one character is your friend and then bam! It’s not something that you get in YA and it was different to see.

Another thing that I loved about The Cruel Prince was the world. It’s fantastic and pulls your right in. Holly Black created a lot of layers in this world, with the basics of fae laws. I really enjoy that as it’s a great way to compare and contrast to other fae worlds. While at the start of The Cruel Prince it took me a little to get into the world, it wasn’t long before I was in love.

As I’ve said before, I had no idea what was going to happen throughout The Cruel Prince. You think something is going to happen and then it doesn’t. Then you think ‘oh she won’t do this’ and it does. It takes you on a world wind of emotions.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Cruel Prince. It’s addicting, dark and messes with your emotions. It’s a world of court intrigue and the conflict between Fae and humans. It explores the notion of being human and the emotions that come with it. It’s fast-paced with many twists and turns that throw you off. The Cruel Prince has set up a fantastic new series for Holly Black.

~Angelique, QBD Chadstone

Sci Fri: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

9781760113803

Illuminae has received glowing praise from the bookish world as a whole ever since it was released. Bloggers would shout it from social media platforms and potential fans all over the world could be seen fangirling over the unique format and sheer amazingness of it all. It has been hailed the YA novel of 2015. The paramount page-turner. An incredible piece of literary innovation. A book so special with all the bells and whistles that you simply couldn’t pass it up.
So. What did I make of it? More importantly – did it live up to the hype?
In my opinion – YOU BET IT DID.

Sure, I’ve read novels before that stray from the traditional structure by incorporating other elements like reports and images to make things seem more realistic. But Illuminae truly does take this concept to the next level by completely revamping literary convention and making this a story like no other. It’s not just a sci-fi adventure – it’s a piece of art. Told through a variety of textual forms such as military reports, diary entries, transcripts from surveillance footage and more, there is never a dull moment. Kady and Ezra are two main characters whose lives are turned upside down because of an inter-galactic conspiracy, a corrupt corporation and an AI that seems to have a mind of its own. Throw into the mix a deadly virus, further attacks on the horizon and a general aura of chaos and you get a heart-stopping, violently thrilling book that will leave you reeling.

At the start it was a little difficult to truly connect with the characters since the novel is told in snippets and readers are left to piece these fragments together. However, by the halfway point I was well and truly hooked. The countdowns, the IM messages, the distress calls and interviews all created a sense of immediacy to the point where I felt if I stopped reading I would miss something big happening that could be on the very next page. On another note, Kady really stood out to me as an admirable character. Not only could she be tough, resilient and had an attitude, but was also ‘human’ as well. She had her own weaknesses but in the end was able to do the right thing and take on all that the universe threw at her. Characters like her in YA are inspiring, and make this a book readers will relate to. This is not a clinical sci-fi novel. Instead, it’s something so much more, and unique at that. It stands apart on the shelf not just because of how visually stunning it is, but because it is impressive both inside and out.

With massive plot twists and an explosive ending, I will be on the edge of my seat waiting for the second book in this trilogy. If you’re one of the people out there still waiting to experience this spectacular feat of literary genius, then it’s time to illuminate what’s been missing in your reading life so far.

~Eugenia