In this debut novel, Prince Kiem—a famously disappointing minor royal—is commanded to renew the empire's bonds with its newest vassal planet by marrying Count Jainan, the recent widower of another royal prince of the empire whose death hides some secrets. Can Kiem and Jainan get past the awkward arranged marriage and come together to protect both of their worlds?
Everina Maxwell's Winter's Orbit did every single thing I expected it to do and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it ... The world and its politics are ably developed, but they are very much not the point. Jainan and Kiem’s relationship is spot-lit and center stage, every misstep and hesitation both building and delaying the reader’s satisfaction. I gulped the slow burn down, the lengthy and implausibly sustained misunderstandings ... One doesn’t fault a sonnet for having a rhyme scheme—and in a world so relentlessly uncertain, there’s a powerfully simple pleasure in the experience of a promise kept.
... an interesting history ... a very promising debut. Its characters are engaging and believable: not just Kiem and Jainan, but secondary figures ... Maxwell is deft at dropping hints about the wider world and political scene, so that even though the emotional core of this story is domestic, the bigger picture never quite fades from view. And there’s space in that bigger picture for plenty more stories ... Well-paced and deftly written, it’s one of the most enjoyable space (or planetary) opera romances that I’ve had the pleasure to read, and I look forward to seeing more of Maxwell’s work in the years to come.
Even though it was slow to start, Winter’s Orbit became an engrossing read ... I found that this book was easy to read but it was challenging for me to picture the world of Iskat in my mind; it would have been nice to have some more worldbuilding descriptions and/or some illustrations. I also found some of the names (people, places, technologies, etc.) and political elements to be confusing and hard to follow; I would have preferred less political details and more of a focus on Kiem and Jainan’s relationship and/or the murder investigation. I also found it frustrating that it took Kiem so long to uncover the truth about Jainan and Taam’s relationship ... I thought that the storyline was well organised, and the concept was unique ... This book was action-packed with hardly a dull moment and it had a satisfying ending; it made sense, but it left some plot lines open for a potential sequel.