We’ve reached the halfway mark of Winter’s Orbit by Evarina Maxwell, and things are definitely picking up the pace! If you’re catching up, here are my thoughts on last week’s reading, and here is the Goodreads page where you can find all the questions and other people’s posts. Week three includes chapters 16 to 22, so please be aware that this post will contain spoilers up to that point and including earlier chapters as well. Read at your own peril!
Week two ended with Jainan and Kiem crashing in their flybug, leaving us in suspense as to their wellbeing and those responsible for it. We also discovered more regarding the Taam’s death and the attempted hacking of Operation Kingfisher. This week the questions are all mine, and I am probably more eager to see what my fellow readers thought than to write my own responses – I will shamelessly admit to having finished the book because I couldn’t bear the waiting! It’ll be hard to separate my thoughts of this section from the knowledge of the next, but I will do my best!
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?
Ahhhhhh. I can’t believe it took Kiem getting attacked by a bear (well, a “bear”) for them to get to this point! I thought having to share a tent would be enough but to my utter disbelief Kiem just straight up slept outside?? In the snow?? I am so glad we’ve got this weird tension over with and the relationship can now progress – I don’t mind little misunderstandings and the like if the big thing has at least been dealt with. Silly boys and their lack of communication! But I do know that Jainan specifically had (and still has) a lot of baggage, and that Keim is also operating on the assumption that he can never fill the role of “perfect” Taam.
Iskat doesn’t seem to be the friendlies 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’m particularly charmed by the mentions of the birdlife, and the bear encounter made me stop and think. Of course different planets might use the same name for something that’s slightly different! Why did I never think of that before? It also makes me wonder if the bears on Thea are more what we’re familiar with, or an entirely other new thing that’s vaguely bear shaped. I do like the way Maxwell used the setting of a snowy planet, and didn’t just keep it in the background; it was perfect for our main characters to find themselves stranded together, and it also worked well to show some of the education children on Iskat get. Kiem, who is overall a little clumsy and doesn’t try too hard at anything, suddenly became competent when faced with surviving in the wilderness, which was very sexy of him, and showed that the author had thought through all the little details one might need to know when living on such a harsh planet. The urban elements of Iskat are still quite vague to me, even the layout of the palace wasn’t very clear, but that’s a minor complaint, since all the attention is on the politics and the marriage.
Chapter 21 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?
It’s either someone incredibly prepared and clever, who thinks they can take on whatever the lack of a Resolution will bring, or someone incredibly stupid, just trying to make some fast money. Could be a bit of both, as I’m sure it’s not just one person acting here, and everyone will have their own motivations… I definitely didn’t see the fake remnants thing coming, though I did think they’d have a crucial part to play, so it was nice to be taken by surprise. Honestly, chapters 21-22 were just one gut punch after the next in terms of new reveals, and it’s a good thing nobody was home while I was reading this, because I did some squealing. Especially that scene with Lunver, where she claims to have no memory of talking with Kiem and Jainan about the investigation – is she being particularly cruel, has she been brainwashed, or did we meet a clone? Something about doubles always gives me the shivers, in a fun way.
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 feel like it would be hard for the Emperor not to at least know that something was happening with the remnants, and she doesn’t seem to want to get too involved despite Kiem and Jainan’s rocky position within the Resolution. But then, why bother marrying them up in the first place, if only to sabotage the entire thing a few weeks later? No, I think the Emperor is just very busy and trusts her subordinates to act in her best interest, which can sometimes go well and other times not so much…
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?
Ah poor Kiem – I think we as readers have seen this reveal coming for a while, but it still hits hard having Kiem be confronted with the reality of it. It would have been better to have come from Jainan, and it probably would have in time, if their relationship was given the space to breathe and grow, but conflict was needed and I just hope Kiem doesn’t rush in and make it worse – though, of course, he will always help in the end, but he might try to push Jainan without meaning to.
I was definitely worried about his safety when he first confronted the professor, so I’m glad that whole thing was a red herring and all she’s responsible for is trying to gain information. It did seem a bit too convenient… looking at you, Aren.
What do you make of Jainan’s encounter with the Auditor and his explanations on Galactic politics?
This was the part I was needing, at last! I know understand the Galactic politics, and even though I think some of this information could have been presented earlier in the book, it paired well with this vulnerable moment from the Auditor. He’s just a cog in a big machine, trying to do his job, but he’s also human and gets fed up with his big corporation, and that’s a mood. I don’t think Jainan is going to try and cut Iskat out of the Resolution, but I kind of feel like they’ve earned it… though, of course, not all Iskarans are responsible for the empire and its stranglehold on other planets’ resources and trade, so it wouldn’t be fair on them. Anyway, I now fully understand the stakes, and the world of Winter’s Orbit feels more vast and more real than it did before.