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Everina Maxwell's WINTER'S ORBIT - A Book that Bridges Genres

by Jen Moyers (@jen.loves.books)

Everina Maxwell's Winter's Orbit ( | is a stunner of a sci fi novel. It's also an LGBTQ romance, a book centered on palace intrigue, a mystery. Quite simply, I loved it.

The book begins with Prince Kiem. Kiem is a bit of an outcast from his prominent royal family—so, when he has the chance for redemption, he knows he should jump on it. His grandmother, the Emperor of Iskat, is in the midst of delicate negotiations with the universe's governing body, and it requires a peaceful relationship with the planet of Thea. What does she want Kiem to do?

He needs to marry Count Jainan.

Jainan was married to Kiem's cousin, a prominent royal named Taam. After Taam's death, Iskat needs to solidify its connection to Thea, and marriage is the best way to do it.

Kiem proceeds with great caution because Taam's death is quite recent, and he's sure that Jainan is grieving. Their marriage begins with painful awkwardness, a connection in name only.

"People were many things, but by and large they weren’t masterminds. They always wanted something. They always had a reason for what they did.”

That's the set up, and I know it sounds complicated, but the focus here is really on relationships. Iskat and Thea are both plagued by secrets, by machinations, by those who are power hungry. In the center of it all are Kiem and Jainan, both trying to make the best of an awkward situation, to find some sort of happiness, and to do their best not to endanger their planets' futures . . . or to hurt each other, particularly as they each start to learn the other's painful history.

What ensues is a longing for things each thinks can never happen, a determination to save their worlds. The points of view alternate between Kiem and Jainan's perspectives, leaving the reader in aching suspense (both regarding the romance AND the central mystery of what actually happened to Taam—and a few other mysteries that develop through the story).

This is a gorgeous novel, with fabulous world building. Both Kiem and Jainan are developed with a complexity that's never overshadowed by the plot . . . but that plot is also incredibly compelling. Winter's Orbit is a book that's well worth your time.

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