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!
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All 1 Star 2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars Abbi Glines Abdi Nazemian Adam Silvera Aiden Thomas Aisha Saeed AJ Collins Alexandra Christo Alexis Hall Alex Kelly Alex Sanchez Alice Dolman Alice Oseman Al Riske Alwyn Hamilton A. Meredith Walters Amy Harmon Amy S. Foster André Aciman Andy V Roamer Angie Thomas Annabeth Albert A. Poland Ashley Poston Ashley Woodfolk Audrey Coulthurst Becca Fitzpatrick Becky Albertalli Benjamin Alire Saenz Beth Bolden Bill Konigsberg Briar Prescott Bri Spicer Brooke Skipstone Cale Dietrich Casey McQuiston Cassandra Clare C.G. Drews Chris Bedell Ciara Smyth Clarissa Pattern C.L. Beaumont Colleen Hoover Crystal Frasier C.S. Pacat Daven McQueen David Biddle David Yoon Dean Atta Debbie McGowan Debbie Rigaud Deborah Harkness Delia Owens D.G. Carothers Dhonielle Clayton Douglas Stuart Dustin Thao Elizabeth Acevedo Elle Kennedy Elle Wright E. Lockhart Emily M. Danforth Emily Mims Erin Watt Ernest Cline Eve Morton Everina Maxwell Evie Dunmore Felice Stevens Grace Williams Gwen Martin Hanya Yanagihara Hayden Stone Heather Truett 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 John Green Julianne Donaldson 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 Williamson Liv Rancourt Liz Plum Lola Noire Mackenzi Lee Madeline Miller 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 M. Tasia Nancy Garden Natalie Haynes Nicholas Sparks Nicola Yoon Nic Stone Nina Kenwood Nita Tyndall Nora Sakavic N.R. Walker Penny Aimes Phil Stamper Quinn Anderson Rachael Lippincott Rachel Hawkins Rainbow Rowell Ray Stoeve River Braun Roan Parrish Roseanne A. Brown Ruby Moone Ruta Sepetys Ryan La Sala Sally Green Sarah J. Maas Sarah Waters Sarina Bowen Saundra Mitchell Sidney Bell Simone Elkeles Siryn Sueng Sophia DeRise Sophie Gonzales Stephen Chbosky Stephenie Meyer Susan Mac Nicol Suzanne Collins Tahereh Mafi Teagan Hunter Tiffany D. Jackson T.J. Klune Tomi Adeyemi Val Wise Veronica Rossi Veronica Roth V.E. Schwab Wesley Chu Victor Dixen Victoria Aveyard Xan Van Rooyen Yamile Saied Méndez