The first book of 2023 was Everina Maxwell’s “Winter’s Orbit”, a fun romp through an intergalactic society filled with political intrigue and colorful characters, all framed within an icy alien landscape. It was a fun read, to say the least, though a bit more political than I usually like. There were a few parts where the pace was slow – roughly, the first third of the novel as we got to know Kiem and Jainan – the prince on royal probation and his Thean emissary husband. This isn’t a bad thing of course, especially if you prefer deeper character development over a fast-paced plot.
I originally went into it thinking it was a young adult book, but, by the halfway point I realized it’s more for adults. Some of the heavier themes included domestic abuse, trauma, and duty to one’s nation. Throw in a few assassination attempts, a done-with-your-shit emperor, a spunky assistant running from her space pirate past, and you’ve got a crazy ride. Also, both Kiem and Jainan grow throughout the story, overcoming their misconceptions about each other and themselves, and so became one of the most stable power couples in their mutual societies.
Overall, Winter’s Orbit surprised me by presenting some very mature themes amongst a colorful, imaginative landscape, as well as two main characters who struggle with real-life anxieties and fears. And, as space opera’s go, this one was a pretty quick read.
Let me know if you pick it up!