Read-along: Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell (week 3)

Winter's Orbit a SciFi Month read-along


There’s been survival drama and political drama this week, and more suspicious goings on than we can shake a stick at. Not to mention that final bombshell at the end of Chapter 22. Thank goodness for read-along prompts – brought to us this week by the awesome Ariana of the Book Nook, (one my favourite people!) – to help us order our thoughts and feelings.

As mentioned in previous weeks, the schedule for this SciFiMonth read-along can be found here at Dear Geek Place, and the weekly prompts are posted on this Goodreads page here.

SPOILERS from here on in!


Week 3: Chapters 16 through 22

Just over halfway through the book and it finally happened! Our boys actually communicated, and all of us that have been yelling at them to just kiss already have finally been rewarded! Thoughts? Reactions? How do you see the relationship progressing now?

I’ve really enjoyed the way Maxwell has been handling Kiem and Jainan’s relationship. She’s never made it too easy or had them acting ga-ga because of their attraction to one another. Sure there’s been awkwardness, but their complete failure to understand one another hasn’t been irritating (for one who finds such things very irritating on occasion). They’re such different personalities that it’s been fascinating to watch.

All that said, sheesh … finally! It seems that what they both needed was just to be away from all the other distractions – little things like investigating Taam’s murder and trying to repair Iskat-Thea relations – to connect. And what better place than a tiny tent in the middle of a frozen wilderness? *grins hugely*


Iskat doesn’t seem to be the friendliest environment: the constant cold, the savage birdlife, and not to mention the “bear” that Kiem and Jainan encounter in the wilderness – are you enjoying the world building? Anything you’d like to see more of?

I’ve loved meeting Iskat in all its chilly glory. Away from the palace I liked how wild the place is, how remote. And I’m all about the wildlife now! The vicious ‘doves’ piqued my interested, but the scaly ‘bear’ has tipped me over the edge: because I’m starting to think dinosaurs now. I mean, the bear is essentially a giant six-legged lizard, and I don’t remember feathers ever being mentioned in relation to the doves, so naturally I’m now thinking pterodactyls. Because dinosaurs.

The problem being that now I’m so interested in the wildlife that I’m feeling narked there’s not more. Ha ha.


Chapter Twenty-one in particular bombarded us with revelations, most prominent among them the Revoked Status of all treaty representatives and the Auditor’s discovery that the remnants presented are fake. Who do you think is responsible, and what might they have planned to be messing with the Resolution like this?

I actually did the whole hand-to-mouth-with-audible-gasp thing when I read about the multiple Revoked Statuses. And then felt a nasty pleasure that our boys are now the least of Iskat’s problems.

But surely the Emperor knows something about this? It’s not exactly something that the empire could get away with (as the Auditor has just proved). Or is someone else trying to stitch up the Emperor? If so, that someone has got to be hefty enough to be able to act without suspicion falling on them sooner, which kind of suggests the military or even Internal Security. Someone, or a group of someones, that represent authority, because the Resolution is a big enough deal that sneaky behaviour wouldn’t get overlooked right now.

(Sidenote: Agent Rakal got a massive dose of side-eye in Chapter Twenty for delivering the line: “The state is the law, Your Highness” with no apparent irony intended. I’m half hoping they’re something to do with it all so that I can gloat over their downfall … but I suspect this is a vain hope).

(Second side-note: now that I think about it, if the Emperor didn’t want to hand over all the Empire’s remnants she’d surely have just not declared all the remnants that’d been found. This clumsy fakery suggests a deliberate attempt to scupper the Resolution rather than a genuine attempt to pull the wool over the Auditor’s eyes/face-shield).


The Emperor is a character we have not seen in person since the first chapter, but her presence is always lurking in the background. What do you make of her? Is she just a figurehead, or a competent but busy ruler? Could she have some sort of agenda beyond trying to get Iskat through the Resolution and Unification Day?

I’m starting to think she’s a figurehead only. I don’t really feel her authority in the story. We see the empire’s bureaucracy at work for sure, but is she really steering? Agent Rakal being able to wield the Imperial Voice points to an Emperor at a remove. Or at least, this is my current feeling. Everything could change in the last quarter, couldn’t it?


What do you think Kiem is going to do with the information he’s found about Jainan and Taam? How do you feel about it, for that matter? And what about the other things Kiem has discovered?

I knew something wasn’t right in Taam and Jainan’s relationship! And I’m mad at Taam for messing Jainan up like he has: trying to second guess everyone else’s wants and needs is no way to live. But I think Kiem is going to want to talk about it, and I’m not sure how that’s going to go down with Jainan. If we’ve learnt anything so far it’s that he’s very guarded and I just don’t know how he’ll react to Kiem trying to confront him about Taam. This is sensitive stuff.

But what the heck? General Fenrik has all this blackmail material? Now I really don’t know who to suspect. I mean, yes, the whole of Operation Kingfisher is dodgy as all heck, but how far up does this all go? And how does the evidence that Professor Audel and Gairad have uncovered fit into all this? (I’m relieved to discover they’re only searching for information, even if they are doing it illegally).

So many questions right now!


What do you make of Jainan’s encounter with the Auditor and his explanations on Galactic politics?

Ha! I enjoyed the Auditor’s little slip there: “backwater” eh? Nice to know what you really think.

I don’t know what to make of the Auditor’s advice “as a human citizen” to Jainan that Thea (and the rest of the planets in this little empire) ditch Iskat and draw up a separate treaty. I’m not sure it could even be done in the four days they have left. It’s a huge ask to get six people to agree on something, let alone six planets.

I was fascinated by the glimpse into the wider universe, however. And particularly by the Auditor’s comment that “the Resolution was drawn up by a balance of megapowers. We are a skeleton group overseeing a fragile truce.” Everything the Auditor has said hints at a much less harmonious universe than the idea of the Resolution suggests. I don’t think we’re going to get more evidence than this of the wider world, but it’s an intriguing glimpse.


Thoughts on Week 4 (Chapter 23 through to the end) can be found here



  1. *squeal* I’m very late to saying this, but thank you for the amazing comment! I am honoured that one of my favourite people thinks I’m one of their favourite people!! Also, yes to dinosaurs!

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