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Winter's Orbit

by Everina Maxwell

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2791474,444 (4.06)8

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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
This was fun! I hadn't ever heard of this before but I saw someone say they bought this because it was a space opera and when I looked it up, the summary said there was a romance so it seemed like something I would like.

I thought the world building in this was interesting. It really just throws you into the world and only really explains a few things but it was easy to follow still. I don't read a lot of sci-fi so I wasn't exactly sure what the state of that genre is but what I want going into a sci-fi novel is the exploration of what society looks like in this future with different worlds and cultures and you definitely get that with this book. I think if you're looking for a book with interesting world building that isn't too in-depth, this might be a good one.

I typically read a few goodreads reviews before starting a book and there was definitely a divide between people who thought this was sci-fi with a little romance and a romance with a little sci-fi. I think I would describe it as a slow burn romance in a sci-fi setting. I know not everyone likes slow burn and it can make it feel like a story with less romance but I enjoyed it. I liked seeing the changing dynamic between Kiem and Jainan and learning more about them. I didn't realized this was initally published serially until I read the authors note at the end and I think some parts of this book and romance have some hints of that left in. There were a few scenes that I felt like slowed down the plot a bit but generally I think they did a really good job editing this into a finished work. I would have liked to have seen Kiem and Jainan talk about and reckon with the Taam situation a bit more but I did like the conclusion to their story. There aren't any sex scenes between them so it isn't the sort of romance that's more explicit, which is probably part of why some people didn't think this was very romancy. I like intimate scenes in my romances because I think they can help grow the relationship but I didn't miss them here and it made sense with the arranged marriage plot.

I would be interested in reading more from this author, either in this world or a different one. I almost always like space opera stuff when I read it, I just don't pick it up very often. If you're looking for a sci-fi book with some romance stuff but nothing explicit, this would be a good book for that. ( )
  AKBouterse | Oct 14, 2021 |
When I started this, I very quickly had the thought that it strongly reminded me of fanfiction in its style, and it turns out this was initially published on AO3 as original fanfiction. This wasn't a detraction for me, but fanfiction does have a noticeably different feel than other published fiction.

I absolutely loved Kiem and Jainan's relationship and how it grew over the course of the novel. ( )
  coprime | Oct 2, 2021 |
This is a space opera m/m romance that reminded me of the Vorkosigan series in some ways. There’s an arranged marriage where both parties secretly like the other but neither believe the other person could possibly be interested in them for different reasons, an assassination attempt, a forced trek through winter weather alone together when their transport crashes and one character getting injured and the other having to look after them. This was very sweet and funny and I’m happy to hear Maxwell is writing another in the same world (although I think with different characters). I borrowed this from the library but enjoyed it so much I will probably get my own copy at some point. ( )
  souloftherose | Sep 5, 2021 |

CW: past domestic violence

I still remember how excited I was when I first saw the cover and premise of this book and couldn’t wait to get to it. Now that I’m done, I can just say that I have a wide smile due to how much I enjoyed it.

When someone says that a book reads like fanfiction, I find that to be a compliment because fanfics have been the ones that have gotten me through the year from hell. The writing in this book does resemble that, being very easy to read and accessible. It’s a space opera but the world building isn’t too complicated, the author giving us just enough information to understand the political intrigue. There are unexpected twists and betrayals and lots of political maneuvering that makes it a very interesting read that’ll keep you engaged. We have some very beloved fanfic tropes like arranged marriage, only a single bed, the unlikely couple getting stranded and bonding over it and also lots of miscommunication and yearning because of it. And one of the most fascinating parts of this world is how normalizingly queer it is - gender is chosen by every individual and they can present themselves as whatever they want using symbols on their person, and relationships between any genders are just part of life. It’s just so lovely to read more stories like this where homophobia and gender binaries don’t exist.

But the strength of this book is definitely the characters. Kiem is kind of an insignificant Royal who is thrust into an arranged marriage in a very short notice while Jainan, who is from a vassal kingdom doesn’t have much choice either. While Kiem is kind, charming and capable of talking himself into and out of any situation despite being not at all political savvy, Jainan is more reserved, thoughtful, slightly anxious and thinks many times before even uttering a word. They are definitely opposites, which means the attraction is inevitable. While there was a lot of communication between them for a while which made me quite tense about what was gonna happen, it was also so lovely to see them slowly become reliant on each other and then able to talk about their feelings. I was literally sobbing with happiness seeing them get together and then work with each other to figure out all the mysteries. The ending was particularly very amusing and I was full of joy seeing the proceedings play out.

Even the side characters are quite interesting and each has their own arc. I especially loved Kiem’s assistant Bel who was a total badass with an interesting backstory and was such a supportive figure throughout the mystery solving. The Auditor and Agent Rakal also turned out to be fascinating despite me doubting their motivations. Gairad was a sweet addition while the Emperor was kinda subtly funny. But it was Taam, Jainan’s dead husband who felt like a constant presence despite not being alive and the author did such a great job creating and solving all the entanglements.

To conclude, I’m so happy that I got to read such a cute and lovely romance early on in the year. This is such an easy read in the space opera genre but the author balances the love story, the politics and the murder mystery perfectly - making this a very memorable book. It made me giddy and emotional and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I highly recommend this one, especially if you like queer worlds and sweet romances. ( )
  ksahitya1987 | Aug 20, 2021 |
The treaty falling apart is an anvil dangling overhead, threatening to crush Jainan and Kiem beneath it. Kiem is swept into responsibility he long since accepted he wasn't suited for, and Jainan puts ever more pressure on himself to be perfect. The cracks are apparent for both, but it is in the cracks that they find how well they fit, both as a pair and as partners working side by side. The story takes these two characters that are lost and allows them to find refuge and solace with each other. It is devastatingly obvious that Jainan has gone through the wringer long before we are given actual glimpses of the abuse Jainan suffered at the hands of Taam. It is evident in his reflexive apologies, in the way he constantly perceives everything from the stance of "I caused this." The sparsity of his belongings and the utter shock he has with Kiem's gentler, warmer demeanor. Maxwell captures his trauma with honesty and sincerity as he embarks on a journey of healing.

In my eyes, the only significant way that Kiem has changed involves his drinking. Every other "wild" incident can either be chalked up to his youth (pranks with his friends), betrayal (those same friends turning around and selling the stories to the tabloids) and being held up to a mirror that could never accurately represent him. Kiem is charismatic and kind, he is diplomatic and skilled at spinning a story. More, he isn't so proud as to allow his "wild" reputation to ruin his life.

From the start, Jainan and Kiem's relationship is fraught with misunderstandings. They each deeply want to make the other one comfortable and to foster a certain closeness, but due to early misunderstandings, they zig when they should have zagged. Kiem enters the marriage believing that Jainan had the perfect marriage to the perfect partner and he would forever be inadequate. Jainan entered the marriage expecting to fall into similar roles as his marriage with Taam, roles where Jainan is repressed and isolated and always unwanted whereas Kiem would have all the power. Everina Maxwell laid the groundwork for Jainan's abuse revelations with heartbreaking precision. Many threads are tied in that Maxwell previously wove throughout the beginning stages of Jainan and Kiem's relationship. Jainan being from a planet with a radically different climate yet possessing far greater defensive and offensive abilities than Kiem came into play, as did their misunderstandings and tender moments. The action elements were what truly solidified Jainan and Kiem as a couple, and without them, Winter's Orbit would be lesser. ( )
  InfinitySisters | Jun 28, 2021 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Everina Maxwellprimary authorall editionscalculated
Klimowicz, KatieCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lopez, MagdielCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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This book wouldn't exist without you
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"Well, someone has to marry the man," the Emperor said.
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Disambiguation notice
Winter's Orbit by Everina Maxwell is a significantly revised book that started out on AO3 titled "The Course of Honour" by the user Avoliot.
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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.
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