#REVIEW: The Priory of the Orange Tree, by Samantha Shannon

This was one of those awesome accidents, a book that I had never heard of until I picked it up off a shelf at Barnes and Noble, mostly because it was a giant, intimidating (800+ pages) doorstop of a book with a cool cover and an intriguing title and, finding myself still thinking about it, ordered it a few days later. I wasn’t familiar with Samantha Shannon’s previous work, and the notion of a one-volume epic fantasy sounded like a nice change of pace even if that one-volume was, on its own, enormous.

The basic plot is, I’ll admit, a touch on the pedestrian side: an Ancient Evil is about to awaken, and once it does, well … it’s gonna be bad, in the way Ancient Evils typically are. I mean, you don’t get to be an Ancient Evil unless you’re planning on upsetting a few apple-carts once in a while, if you know what I mean. It’s in everyone’s best interest if the Ancient Evil is prevented from waking up. That’s just kind of a given.

Where The Priory of the Orange Tree shines is how it’s about that admittedly seen-it-before premise. First of all, the action is literally worldwide. Each of the four main characters is from a different culture and a different country, and many of them do not begin interacting with one another directly until the last third or so of the book. Second, the role of religion in the book is really interesting. The Nameless One (its actual name, which … whatever) was locked away a thousand years ago, and as it turns out the different cultures do not exactly agree on the precise order of events leading up to said locking away, and some of them have based their entire governing systems on a line of succession from someone who the other cultures don’t even see as legitimate. There is an Important Magic Sword; no one agrees on who made it or who wielded it, although there is general agreement that it was used to stab the Bad Guy, somewhat less effectively than one might have hoped. Various aspects of the actual truth are uncovered at various points throughout the story; most of the time, those truths end up pissing people off.

Oh, and most of the main characters are women and lots of them are gay.

And there are dragons. And spies, and a rather interesting magic system, and court intrigue on a couple of different continents, and a plague, and I spent about half the book wondering how in the hell everything was going to get wrapped up in a single volume and the other half wishing it didn’t, which I have to figure is a recommendation. I’d happily return to this world for more, to be honest, but if there isn’t ever a second volume it absolutely wraps itself up satisfyingly.

Thumbs up. I’ll be on the lookout for more Samantha Shannon in the future.

Proof of life post

In all honesty, the last two days have gone as well as I could possibly have hoped. Better, even, since I never imagined “as well as I’d hoped” to actually be a possibility and therefore they exceeded that impossible barrier.

But I’ve been home for about four and a half hours and I’ve been staring mindlessly at my phone for about 90% of that time, so I may be too tired to string thoughts together coherently at the moment. I’ll try harder tomorrow, I promise.

See you on the other side

I am as prepared for tomorrow as I’m going to get.

I will post a real post tomorrow night provided that I remain alive.

For now, I’m going to take a shower and go to bed early and hope I can sleep.

Final classroom update

… seeing as how school starts tomorrow, for shit’s sake:

The room is basically done, at least on the decor front; there will probably be some more math-related stuff scattered about as the year goes on but what I’ve got is more than enough to get started with. I got the round table I wanted and brought in a single carrel desk, so I feel like the kids have plenty of options for where to sit. We’ll see how it goes; first teacher day is tomorrow and first day with the kids is Thursday. I plan on spending the first two days at least on procedures and getting-to-know-you stuff so no need to worry too much about lesson planning yet.

In other news, this is happening, and are you as excited as I am? Or as excited as I would be, if all of my available emotional energy wasn’t being sidetracked into other things right now? Because I totally feel like if I had any spoons left I’d be burning them on being super excited about this:

In which a minor thing goes right

You may recall I’m working on getting a classroom set up, what with how I haven’t shut up about it for days. What I haven’t mentioned is that I’ve had a couple of Indiana University flags hanging up in virtually every classroom I’ve ever had that had the wall space for them, and I have been tearing the house apart over the last several days trying to figure out where the hell I put them after I closed down my last classroom. There was no way I would ever have thrown them away, and I realized this afternoon that there were certain other objects missing as well– most notably, my collection of Hulk toys, mostly gifts from students– that I similarly would never have gotten rid of.

They had to be in the basement. They had to be. There were other boxes of school shit down there; why wouldn’t the flags be down there somewhere? But both my wife and I had already gone through the basement. Independently. And found nothing.

Our basement is a fucking mess, y’all.

Now, in this picture, you need to ignore the fact that one of the flags in question is on top of the pile, but note that that cardboard box is open. And the reason the flag is on top of the pile of stuff there but with nothing underneath it dislodged is that the motherfucking thing was in plain goddamn sight the entire time, on top of everything in that cardboard box. And yet, somehow, two adults who were looking for red flags didn’t see it.

Trash bags full of undonated baby clothes removed, we see … part of a roll of paper towels, for some reason, part of a car seat, and … wait, what’s that?

If anyone has advice on how to get wrinkles out of a polyester flag, they’d be appreciated. And look! Underneath the flag!

My Hulk toys. My Hulk mugs. My binary clock. My Easy Button. My Skull of An Unnamed Former Student. All the shit that I knew goddamn well I didn’t throw away.

For once, something– a minor something, mind you, but something— has gone right.