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.
Thank you to Orbit Books and Netgalley for the review e-copy!
This was a journey for me to read! In a good way! I really enjoyed it but I would be lying if I didn’t say it took me a while to get through and that is in no way a negative reflection on the book. Winter’s Orbit is ultimately a science-fiction YA novel but actually it is so much more. Maxwell has woven such a detailed plot, I found myself blown away when I first picked this book up – there is very much a political backstory within Winter’s Orbit. And with that backstory comes a whole heap of backstabbing, mystery, loyalties and connections. I’m not quite sure how Maxwell kept this book to it’s 432 pages as there is so much to take in. Every character has thorough thoughts, feelings and agendas – nothing is skipped out on.
So, when I first picked up this book back in February, I had just come out of a reading frenzy of fantasy which meant when I started to read Winter’s Orbit I just couldn’t get my head in the right place at all so I wasn’t following the story. I paused my read and took on some lighter bits before returning to Winter’s Orbit in early April. I was ready and eager and honestly, I sped through the final 300 pages at light speed. I did not want to put this book down!
I loved the relationships between the characters – Jainan and Kiem very much have my heart and I want to see more of them. Maxwell’s fluid use of genders and sexality in this book is frankly, refreshing and needed. I will be shoving Winter’s Orbit under several people’s noses I can assure you. The way we saw a vulnerability to Jainan (and Kiem) broke my heart so much, their awkward interactions in the beginning were so real for me I couldn’t help but become invested.
The setting for this book is notably, in another set of worlds where space travel is a usual and common thing which really gave Maxwell free reign in her use of character design, world building and storytelling. There are so many elements to touch upon. I feel like I need to re-read it already to get my head around my words. I did feel like I needed a road map at the beginning! I would love to have more books in this universe, so that I can see all of the wonderful nations included in the narrative. I really do think this book has everything, even a royal family.
I’ve rated this at 4.5 and would easily push that to a 5 on a re-read I think!