Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell
Title: Winter’s Orbit
Author: Everina Maxwell
Publisher: Orbit, Little, Brown Book Group UK
Published Date: January 21st 2021
Length: 432 pages
Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Adult Fiction, Romance, LGBTQIA, Space Opera
Ancillary Justice meets Red, White & Royal Blue in Everina Maxwell’s exciting debut.
While the Iskat Empire has long dominated the system through treaties and political alliances, several planets, including Thea, have begun to chafe under Iskat’s rule. When tragedy befalls Imperial Prince Taam, his Thean widower, Jainan, is rushed into an arranged marriage with Taam’s cousin, the disreputable Kiem, in a bid to keep the rising hostilities between the two worlds under control.
But when it comes to light that Prince Taam’s death may not have been an accident, and that Jainan himself may be a suspect, the unlikely pair must overcome their misgivings and learn to trust one another as they navigate the perils of the Iskat court, try to solve a murder, and prevent an interplanetary war… all while dealing with their growing feelings for each other.
Now, I don’t know how many of you read fanfiction or how many of you wish for all the tropes you love to feature in one book that is just as great to read as you might hope for. Such a book came to life and was given to me, and I couldn’t be happier. Gosh, this book is so good and gives me all the tropes that I love and wrap them with a good solid story to back it up. The characters are so lovable and it’s just a great book, okay?
I think I needed something like this to come my way and it made me fall in love with the characters and the world (although the corruption I could live without). Someone who reviewed the book on Goodreads said that this book could cater to the audience of MDZS/ The Untamed and I read that review just as I was in the middle of the book. It makes sense. There’s bubbly, chatterbox/silent and strong dynamics that works so well here. Of course, there’s more to the story than that but that’s like one of my all time favourite tropes, if done well. A sunny one is with the grumpy one. Ah. The best of times could be had.
It is not hardcore science fiction, it’s a love story set in space with interplanetary/galactic politics and intrigue sprinkled in, as a treat. I think the author had a very clear idea as to what she wanted from this story and she set out to write it. It worked incredibly well because we can see some glimpses of the world and how the solar system works and how there are tensions between the planets and how the auditor of the galactic committee could make or break the situation. In the midst of this audit, there comes Kiem and Jainan’s marriage. It is set up to be the ‘all is well’ front of the planets in front of the audits. Jainan being recently widowed does not come under consideration when being married off to Prince Kiem because Jainan is a diplomat first and a normal human first.
I am sure you have seen this trope before and so have I. Marriage of convenience and political tensions, repressed and frustrated people on one side of the solar system and the other side flourishing and trying to show how much in control everything is. Every chapter brought us to the growth in their marriage along with news of how messed up things might be. There’s a deadline of sorts to commemorate the unity of the planets and Kiem and Jainan have to play a huge part in it, so of course, they get tangled in web of lies and conspiracies. I loved the progression of Kiem and Jainan’s relationship because both of them were fairly useless as far as understanding each other was concerned, each wrapped up in their own worry of offending the other and being uncertain as to how to behave around each other. I loved how each of them slowly came to understand that there’s more than just being a spouse, that they need to put in the effort and truly get to know each other. It was fun to read and the tropes just fell in like they were hailstones, they worked beautifully though! So, don’t be worried about that.
This is probably a space opera, I can’t be sure. I can never be sure on what is and isn’t a space opera to be perfectly honest but it progresses like a soap opera and it’s in space! So, space opera? Yes? Yes. I think while it’s all a great adventure, there’s a need for content warning. There’s mention of domestic abuse on page about a previous relationship, it’s nothing explicit but it is enough to make anyone uncomfortable.
Overall, I loved this book and part of the reason could be that I read it at the right time. I needed something like this in between the fantasy trilogies I have been trying to finish for a while. So, that’s great. If you like romance set in space where it’s more about the characters and their relationships instead of world building and deep political intrigue then you will definitely like this book. Even if you do like the world building and political aspects of a book then you can still enjoy it because there’s enough of it sprinkled around throughout the book. Although the fact that you are just thrown in the midst of chaos might not appeal to some readers. So, keep that in mind if you are picking up the book.