Winter’s Orbit is a queer, political space opera and M/M romance masterpiece! It’s pitched as “Ancillary Justice meets Red, White & Royal Blue” and that is such a spot on description! It has the same wonderful queer, fun and political vibes as RWARB and an epic space and treachery plot that is similar to Ancillary Justice, all mixed together into one of my absolute favorite books ever!
In the Iskat Empire, the treaties and political alliances between the planets are the foundation that holds the empire together. When the planet Thea starts to rebel against Iskat about the same time as Imperial Prince Taam dies in an accident, his Thean widower Count Jainan is rushed into an arranged marriage with Taam’s cousin Kiem in a desperate way to prevent an interplanetary war.
I immediately rooted for the poor forced-into-marriage couple, both Jainan and Kiem were such wonderful characters! Jainan is a Thean diplomat and dutiful scholar, who always takes his responsibilities seriously and puts duty before his own happiness, whereas Kiem is the disreputable prince, who never takes anything too serious, but with such a good heart. I just loved how Kiem always sees the best in everyone, how kind, generous and sociable he is. And how he was so conscious of Jainan’s grief after losing his partner and respecting his feeling. A bit too much even… Jainan was also so lovable, but a much more complex character with a baggage that revealed itself as the story evolved. When it appears that Prince Taam’s death may not have been an accident, and that Jainan is not only shut out from the investigation of his late husband’s death, but a suspect himself, the new couple must quickly overcome their differences and learn to trust one another while navigating political, military and inter-galactic diplomatic relations. As well as dealing with their growing feelings for each other…
The genuine and sweet way Kiem’s and Jainan’s relationship developed was just adorable. Everina Maxwell did an excellent job building up the romance slowly while at the same time driving the plot forward at light speed with the murder mystery, the political intrigues and all galactic action.
I also really loved the world building and the unique concept that gender is a choice you can make to express (or not) and that partnerships are completely gender-neutral too. In this world there is no homophobia at all. The character’s sexuality is no one’s business but their own. I really appreciated the fact that Everina Maxwell didn’t even make a big thing of this.
Even though the story is based on a science-fiction story and set in space, it feels very contemporary. It’s light and sassy, but it still deals with a lot of heavy topics such as abuse and violence, angst, self-loathing, love and vulnerability, and a forced marriage trope. Basically, this book has it all! A swooning gay romance, great dialogue, nuanced and queer relationships, political intrigues that need to be challenged, a murder history that needs to be solved, and a galactic war that needs to be stopped. It’s hilarious, witty, tender, thoughtful and devastatingly heartfelt. It’s a story about being brave enough to admit you are worth fighting for, for wanting things, and for chasing after those things. It’s a story that deals with difficult topics in a both honest and fun way at the same time.
Thank you NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for the eARC and the opportunity to read this gem in exchange for an honest review! I absolutely love this book and recommend it with all my heart!
Get your own copy:
All 1 Star 2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars Abbi Glines Abdi Nazemian Adam Silvera Adib Khorram Aiden Thomas Aisha Saeed Aislinn Brophy AJ Collins Alexandra Christo Alex Beltran Alexene Farol Follmuth Alexis Hall Alex Kelly Alex Sanchez Alice Dolman Alice Oseman Ali Hazelwood Alison Cochrun Al Riske Alwyn Hamilton Amanda Ferreira A. Meredith Walters Amy Aislin Amy Harmon Amy S. Foster Amy Spalding André Aciman Andy V Roamer Angie Thomas Annabeth Albert A. Poland Ashley Poston Ashley Woodfolk Ashlyn Kane Audrey Coulthurst Becca Fitzpatrick Becky Albertalli Benjamin Alire Saenz Beth Bolden Bill Konigsberg B.L. Maxwell Briar Prescott Bri Spicer Brooke Skipstone Cale Dietrich Casey McQuiston Cassandra Clare C.F. White C.G. Drews Charli Meadows Chris Bedell Ciara Smyth Clarissa Pattern C.L. Beaumont Colette Davison Colleen Hoover Crystal Frasier C.S. Pacat Daven McQueen David Biddle David Yoon Dean Atta Debbie McGowan Debbie Rigaud Debbie Schrack Deborah Harkness Delia Owens Deonn Tracy D.G. Carothers Dhonielle Clayton Douglas Stuart Dustin Thao Elisa A. Bonnin Elizabeth Acevedo Elizabeth Arroyo Elle Kennedy Elle Wright E. Lockhart Emily M. Danforth Emily Mims Erin Watt Ernest Cline Evan J. Corbin Eve Morton Everina Maxwell Evie Dunmore Felice Stevens Grace Williams Gwen Martin Hanya Yanagihara Hayden Stone Heather Truett H.E. Edgmon Hettie Bell Holly Black Hope Irving Hudson Lin Ingrid Sterling Jacqueline Lee Jacqueline Woodson Jamie Deacon Jandy Nelson Jax Calder Jay Hogan Jeanette Winterson Jeff Zentner Jenna Evans Welch Jenn Burke Jennifer E. Smith Jennifer G. Edelson Jennifer Gilmore Jennifer Iacopelli Jennifer Kropf Jennifer Niven Jenny Downham Jenny Han Jeremy Ray Jesse H. Reign Joelle Lynne John Green Jonny Garza Villa Julianne Donaldson Julian Winters Kacen Callender Kami Garcia Kara Leigh Miller Kasie West Kate Larkindale Katharine McGee Kathleen Mareé KD Casey Kendall Grey Kevin Van Whye Kiley Reid Kim Fielding Kim Holden Kim Liggett Kitty Bardot Kris Ripper K.S. Marsden Laura Hall Laura Pavlov Laura Silverman Lauren James Laurie Frankel Leah Johnson Lee Matthew Goldberg Leigh Bardugo Leylah Attar Lisa Henry Lisa Williamson Lisa Wingate Liv Rancourt Liz Plum Lola Noire Lynn Michaels Mackenzi Lee Madeline Miller Magdalena Di Sotru Maggie Doolin Maggie Stiefvater Malin Persson Giolito Malorie Blackman Margaret Stohl Marie Lu Mary E. Pearson Mason Deaver Matthew R. Corr Melina Marchetta Meredith Russo Miel Moreland Mila Gray Miranda Kenneally Moa Backe Astot Morgan James M. Tasia Nancy Garden Natalie Haynes Nicholas Sparks Nicola Yoon Nic Starr Nic Stone Nina Kenwood Nita Tyndall Nora Sakavic N.R. Walker Owen Lach Penny Aimes Phil Stamper Quinn Anderson Rachael Brownell Rachael Lippincott Rachel Hawkins Rainbow Rowell Ray Stoeve Renée Dahlia Rhiannon Wilde Riley Hart River Braun Roan Parrish Robin Gow Roseanne A. Brown Rowan MacKemsley Ruby Moone Ruta Sepetys Ryan La Sala Sally Green Sally Rooney Sarah J. Maas Sarah Waters Sarina Bowen Sasha Laurens Saundra Mitchell Saxon James Serena Bell Shannon O’Connor Sidney Bell Simone Elkeles Siryn Sueng Sophia DeRise Sophia Soames Sophie Gonzales S.R. Lane Stephen Chbosky Stephenie Meyer Steven Salvatore Susan Mac Nicol Suzanne Collins Tahereh Mafi Tal Bauer Tamara Girardi Teagan Hunter Terry J. Benton-Walker Tiffany D. Jackson Timothy Janovsky T.J. Klune T.L. Bradford Tobly McSmith Tomasz Jedrowski Tomi Adeyemi Val Wise Veronica Rossi Veronica Roth V.E. Schwab Victor Dixen Victoria Aveyard V.L. Stuart Wesley Chu Xan Van Rooyen Yamile Saied Méndez