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Winter’s Orbit

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  4,556 ratings  ·  1,372 reviews
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 cousi
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 2nd 2021 by Tor
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Popular Answered Questions
Jamie Yes it is. Everina states she is queer in her twitter bio.
John Walker I found this quoted from the author:
"I’m working on a sort-of-sequel-but-not-really, which is set outside the Iskat Empire but in the same universe. I…more
I found this quoted from the author:
"I’m working on a sort-of-sequel-but-not-really, which is set outside the Iskat Empire but in the same universe. It stars two queer characters who are even bigger disasters than Kiem and Jainan and includes more about the Remnants, the quasi-magical alien artifacts that briefly turned up in Winter’s Orbit."
Personally dissapointing for me because Jainan and Kiem were my favorite part of the book :/(less)

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Average rating 4.09  · 
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chai ♡
There is truly nothing the restive embrace of a good story cannot fix.

I had the opportunity to read an early copy of Winter’s Orbit a few weeks ago, while caught in the dreary throes of finals and deadlines, and the story was like a rope thrown into a churning sea, mooring me to some semblance of sanity. Those moments when I would step outside myself, and step inside the story were the only moments my mind shut off its rigor, and everything in me settled like silt. I yearned for the escape I kne
Ash | Wild Heart Reads
Aug 15, 2019 marked it as to-read
Once again Tor shows up for the gays
i feel a little duped. i saw quite a few reviews firmly stating this is a romance with a sci-fi setting, but i actually have to strongly disagree. this is very much a sci-fi story with a very small side of romance.

the romance is used more as a minor plot devise rather than the actual plot. add to that the slowburn nature of it all and it becomes practically non-existent. this isnt a bad thing, but i picked this up with the intention of reading a romance story and this was not it.

setting my per
Ellie (faerieontheshelf)
There's been some discussion within the SFF community recently about books with romance as the central focus and the SFF aspect as a backdrop, rather than the other way around. I'm mentioning this because WINTER'S ORBIT is exactly the kind of work that slots itself neatly (in my mind) as a sci-fi romance rather than sci-fi with romance. And so is exactly the kind of romance-focused SFF work people (including myself) are interested in seeing pop up more.

It's been pitched as many things: Ancillar
Officially released as of 2/2/21! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

4.5ish stars.

To categorize this as a "romance novel" would, I think, be doing it a disservice, (especially to SFF readers who might be put off by that label, although maybe that’s just my implicit bias) because that would discount how good it is as a science fiction novel. It is equal parts tightly plotted, imaginative space opera, and intimate, significant relationship study. Very impressive.

I was looking forward to reading
This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷 Support me

Winter’s Orbit theoretically is something I would love, I mean from the amazing cover to the settings and the fact that it is published by Orbit aka my favorite publisher. And I am saying theoretically because it ended up being a lit underwhelming. You should take this review with a grain of salt though because I know it will be successful and the majority of readers will love it.

The story follows prince Kiem who finds himself facing an arr
GOOD MORNING, WORLD!! THIS AMAZING BOOK RELEASES TODAY! You might want to grab a copy soon ;)

Or read my review down below:

Winter's Orbit feels a lot like coming home. This slow, soft, and utterly romantic space opera is unlike any other sci-fi novel I've read before, and I hope that it starts a trend, because it's something special.

This was originally published on AO3 and you can tell. It reads like a fanfic in the best way possible. Familiar tropes done in a fun way; longer, s
Amy Imogene Reads
A last-minute arranged marriage between a royal and an ambassador days before a treaty that relies on their successful marriage...oh yeah, nothing can go wrong with that... Cue Winter's Orbit and its tense journey through intergalactic politics, interpersonal pitfalls, and a murder conspiracy.

Romance: ★★★ 1/2
Plot: ★★★★
Pacing: ★★ 1/2 (too slow for my preference)
Enjoyment: ★★★★

So from the top, you can probably tell that this story is a DOOZY. Winter's Orbit has it all, and that was kind of its pr
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
UPDATE February 09/2021: I FINISHED!!

JUST AS GOOD AS I REMEMBERED! Oh goodness, I missed these delightful characters.

I feel like since my review somehow has a bunch of likes already I should write some kind of deep and nuanced thing here, but... Really, this book is just 1000% exactly my jam.

It has: Angsty forced marriage; political maneuverings in space; deep worldbuilding; a whole ton of wonderful characters; adventure; and oh yeah, it's super gay.

But the thing this book does above all that's
Marieke du Pré
Kiem and Jainan are so cute!Although Sci-Fi is not one of my most favorite genres, I liked this one! A lot! I pick up Sci-Fi books when I know the author, the premise seems interesting, and when I think the Sci-Fi part will be easy to understand. From the moment I saw Winter’s Orbit, I loved the cover and the blurb. And it was compared to ‘Red, white and royal blue’! I have to admit I had to get used to the world-building first, but afterward, I loved the story.

Kiem and Jainan are lovely togethe
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘
I've been going back and forth with my rating for Winter's Orbit but in the end, 3 stars doesn't feel right, so I'm rounding it up to 4 stars.

Kiem didn't even try to hold her gaze. If she chose to make it an Imperial command, he could be imprisoned for disobeying. "Of course not," he said. "Very happy to- to-" He stuttered to a halt. To forcibly marry someone whose life partner just died. What a great idea. Long live the Empire.

The thing is, I did like following Kiem and Jainan and will for
Lauren Lanz
Feb 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, sci-fi, 5-stars
Winter's Orbit was such a lovely story, the perfect blend between interplanetary politics and heartwarming romance. The protagonists were so sweet, and the worldbuilding was truly spectacular!

~★~ What is this book about? ~★~

Every twenty years, the Iskat Empire renews peace treaties with its planetary colonies. The deadline for a renewal is creeping up fast, but the sudden death of Imperial Prince Taam halts procedures across the galaxy. In an attempt at patching up interplanetary relations b

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
anna (½ of readsrainbow)
rep: mostly poc cast, bi mc, gay mc, wlw, mlm & nonbinary side characters
tw: past domestic abuse, past rape, mental torture, murder


If you’re a fan of the fake dating and/or arranged marriage trope, this is definitely a book for you. If you’re not (why though?), you would still appreciate the court intrigues and cool space opera vibes. (Even if you don’t usually read sci-fi novels, like I don’t.)

A lot of books these days use the fake dating trope, but not all of them succeed, and it’s pretty o
Virginja ↢ 99% imp

I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The writing style was really accessible and simple, so if you are looking for a light-hearted and quick read this may be what you are looking for.

Winter’s Orbit is not a bad book, however I found it very lacking, both plot wise and in regards of developing a solid relationship between the two main characters.

The main problem, for me, is that Winter’s Orbit feels too much like a fanfiction. This book is the direct de
So I liked this, although I think either I'm more critical of published books than online fiction, or I'm a more critical reader now than I was a few years ago. (Both? Both is good.) I still adore the arranged marriage tropiness and a lot of the world-building, but, hmm, I do have some questions about the politics.

Longer review after I ponder, maybe.

advance reaction: Y'ALL I ONLY JUST NOW REALIZED THAT THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE AO3 STORIES IN TRAD PUB FORM. (For clarification - it was always or
Jan 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a 5 star prediction for me, and I'm so glad I was right!

I took my time reading this so that I could really savour it, and I loved the slow build-up of Kiem and Jainan's relationship. I was hesitant to put much faith in the comp to Red, White & Royal Blue, as this is a sci-fi novel, but honestly, I could really see the comparison from the start. Of course it's a very different book, but it does have a similar feel to it. And it's for sure a new favourite for me.

Reading this book was
So...this book is easily going to be one of my favorite releases of the year! Winter's Orbit is a stunning sci-fi debut that merges loads of political intrigue, mystery, culturally intricate world-building, and a political marriage of convenience turned slow-burn romance. It's everything I hoped for and would be a great crossover book for romance readers trying to get into sci-fi, or for sci-fi readers wanting a little more romance.

Kiem is an outgoing, playboy prince known for his escapades and
laurel [the suspected bibliophile]
Trigger Warning: Domestic Abuse, Mind Control

Playboy Prince Kiem is doing just fine thankyouverymuch. That is, until he's forced into an arranged marriage with recently widowed Count Jainan, who was previously married to Kiem's cousin, Taam. But the empire of Iskat is held together by marriage treaties, and they're going to have to make it work in order to help certify their empire to the larger galactic federation. Things aren't going to be that easy though. Because it turns out Taam was murder
Nov 17, 2020 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
when I tell you I’m OBSESSED with both this cover and this premise I mean I would sell my actual soul of a copy
Feb 15, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I could summarize this book as: 99% politics/drama and 1% romance and for a story this long the balance wasn't right.

I don't mind political stories, I hate politics but I understand it so I didn't have a problem with it in this book, BUT it was painful how the author dismissed shows of affection everytime she had the chance, this was an arranged marriage setting and there were multiple opportunities at the end, but nope, one of the two main characters always held back because there were people w
charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)
“Are you kidding?” Kiem said. […] “I’m going to laser tomorrow’s front page posts on our bedroom wall.” “I will void the treaty,” Jainan threatened.

On my blog.

Rep: bi mc, gay mc, wlw, mlm & nonbinary side characters

CWs: past domestic abuse (inc. scenes)

Galley provided by publisher

Winter’s Orbit is a book for me that feels very like a fic (I don’t mean it negatively, take it how you will). And I can’t tell if that’s because I read the original piece it stemmed from (although it has hardly
It's too complimentary to compare this book to a gem like Ancillary Justice, but I think the comp to Red, White, and Royal Blue is right on the money. Women writing santized gay romance set in sanitized political environments is apparently the thing now, and I am not into it whatsoever.

This book has the advantage of being set in a fictional society, which automatically makes it far less cringey than RWRB, a book I admittedly absolutely hated. The worst part of that one, for me, was the fact that
Feb 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book has:
- gays in space
- political intrigue and mystery
- arranged marriage → A+ mutual pining
- the "there's only one bed trope" but upgraded to "there's only one tent and we need to stay close for warmth"
- recovery from a past abusive relationship and learning to be yourself again

i highly recommend this, and i'm very grateful to orbit for sending me a review copy!
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

Well, this wasn’t awesome, but it was still pretty good! If you are looking for a fun and engaging sci-fi read that goes down easy, like a big bucket of buttery popcorn, then Winter’s Orbit might just fit the bill. That said, managing expectations is sort of critical with this one, as is being aware of its origins on Archive of Our Own, the open-source fanfiction website. For while you can take the book out of AO3, you c
disclaimer: I did not finish this book so if you are thinking of reading this book I recommend you check out reviews from other readers.

DNF 45%

Teenage me would have probably liked this. Alas, as I am no longer a teenager, I find the fanfic-y vibes of this novel to be a wee bit cheesy. The two main gain have very generic personalities (one is the fun-extrovert and the other guy is an introvert). I also guessed a 'reveal' within the very few pages...the way the narrative portrays trauma feels v
This was a perfect blend between an exciting political science fiction and a romance that I couldn't help but root for with all my heart. I found myself completely submerged in this world from the very first chapter and it was difficult to make breaks for the ordinary life.

The political intrigue was well-built and extremely engaging. It was a mystery with multiple puzzle elements, and I found it thoroughly satisfactory to observe how the different pieces started to fit together. There were compl
Nov 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, ebook-copy
Thank you so much Tor Books and NetGalley for a free e-copy of this book.

The Iskat Empire controls its political relationships with the vassal planets with a system of treaties and often alliances with marriage. After the death of the Iskat Imperial prince Taam, who is married to a representative of the planet Thean, the Emperor needs to reinstate this alliance as soon as possible ahead of the imminent visit from the Auditor for the signing of the Resolution, which will guarantee peace among emp
Goblin Reaper
Jan 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'There is something wrong with you', he told himself, because there was no loss, and now he was sounding quite insane. But it was like an echo of someone else's voice

Winter's Orbit is a new favorite! It was such a strong and solid debut novel with layered and complex characters, a very well developed plot, and a really sweet romance story. Maxwell's writing was wonderful and so easy to get into - Winters Orbit is a Sci-Fi romance rather than Sci-Fi with romance.
I was looking forward to reading b
Holly (The GrimDragon)
“Pain had its uses, Jainan thought. It put things in perspective. There was something clean about the way it cut through the emotional tangles and reminded you that things could be worse.”

Winter’s Orbit is the debut novel from Everina Maxwell & it is EVERYTHING! I guess I dig romance now? At least when it’s done as gorgeously as this one!

The central story focuses on two princes as they navigate an arranged marriage in space. As one does. The Iskatian representative, Prince Taam, died under stran
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