The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a unique, complex, and women-oriented fantasy! I loved it. I want to give a brief shout-out to Triam Sulyard, which necessitates some spoilers, so …
Triam Sulyard, blonde and blue-eyed, eighteen years old, is a squire who emerges from the ocean on foreign shores driven by an impossible quest. He bears important information and the love of a beautiful girl.
He is, in other words, just the kind of guy who might be the hero of a swords-and-sorcery dragon fantasy.
But in Priory, poor Triam snores and is a little meek. It turns out the beautiful girl he loves is the one with the brains. Triam is rescued, stashed away, disbelieved, captured, and tortured. He dies ignominiously, his severed head stuck atop a gate, off the page somewhere less than halfway through.
The women go on to save the world, of course.