Winter’s Orbit

Tor. Feb. 2021. 432p. ISBN 9781250758835. $24.99. SF
The Iskat Empire has continued its control through treaties and political marriages on each of its vassal planets. When Imperial Prince Taam is killed in a horrible accident, the Emperor knows she must quickly re-establish the connections, especially before the Auditor arrives to reapprove the treaties and ensure peace for years to come. The Emperor decides to marry Taam’s widower, Jainan, to her playboy grandson, Kiem, much to Kiem’s chagrin. Politics were never his focus, and now to be married to a man he does not even know? Kiem’s arrival on Thea reveals some hidden truths, including the fact that Taam’s death may not have been an accident, and Jainan is the primary suspect. As the light shines brighter on their marriage and their pasts, Kiem and Jainan must find a way to discover the answers before their relationship crumbles—along with the entire Iskat Empire. While the story contains themes of emotional and physical abuse in relationships, it brings a galaxy of gender and sexual choice, balancing the dark with light.
VERDICT Maxwell’s delightful debut will please science fiction and romance readers alike, telling a slow burn of a relationship fraught with high stakes and action.
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