readalong, SciFiMonth

Winter’s Orbit – SciFiMonth Readalong Week 4

I was really sad to come to the end of Winter’s Orbit, but also very happy to reach the conclusion and unravel all the mystery and romantic tension. So glad we chose this as the readalong book for this month, because it’s the perfect one to discuss with others! If you want to catch up, you can see my previous posts here: Week One, Week Two, and Week Three. Also, I feel it goes without saying, but please be aware that this post will contain spoilers for the entirety of Winter’s Orbit. So, without further ado, let’s look at the points of discussion Lisa at Dear Geek Place has prepared for this grand conclusion:

We learn the truth of who was behind the fake remnants, the Kingfisher thefts, and Taam’s murder… What did you make of Aren Saffer’s motivations? Surprising, or not?

I’m not surprised at all that Aren Saffer was involved, he was being far too “helpful” and upbeat while Kiem and Jainan investigated. I didn’t realise he’d be behind Taam’s death as well, but honestly it makes sense. Taam was The Worst Person Alive™ and went so far with his terribleness he got in the way of one of his own friends. But also, the fact that Aren was taking advantage of war crimes to make some extra money to cover his gambling debts is just… *sigh*. I do like the way that Maxwell has cut to the core of humanity by showing how such a large scale thing like starting a war (potentially with the entire galaxy??) can stem from individual greed.

So. On a scale of 1 to PROTECT, how did you feel about Jainan’s ordeal and his conversation with Kiem? 

Um, PROTECT x 1000. It was hard to read those scenes of Jainan’s, even knowing that Kiem would be coming for him. The fact that he had to go through these moments again after already enduring them physically, and probably reliving them in his mind before this point… it was necessary for the story but if anyone even looks at Jainan the wrong way after this I shall come in like an avenging angel (Kiem may beat me to it). It broke my heart that Jainan only started to slowly accept Kiem might actually be in the Tau Field with him when Kiem complimented him, because he could never conceive of himself that way. I mean, peak romance, but also peak heartbreak. Also, that moment with Taam – I genuinely thought for a moment that he’d survived and it was chilling. That is good writing.

How do you feel about what the Tau field does/what it’s used for here? Is this misuse of a tool, or scientists creating something they should know better than to create?

Even something as little as erasing/changing a small memory, like Aren did to Lunver, is invasive and wrong on so many levels, but Jainan’s ordeal is straight up torture. I don’t know what the idea behind creating the Tau Field was in the first place, but surely whoever made it must have seen this eventuality? Unless it was made by the military as a torture/compliance machine… wouldn’t put it past them. Either way, it shouldn’t have been made because any positive use it might have is greatly outweighed by all the ways it can be misused.

We’ve had some opinions about the Emperor in previous weeks; how do you feel about her now, following her … discussion with Kiem?

I do wish the Emperor had been a bit more present in the story, but I agree with Mayri the Bookforager that she lacks the sense of humour that might make her stern presence more likeable. To be honest, I don’t have a lot of thoughts about her – she doesn’t stand out as a character compared Kiem, Jainan, Bel, and even Agent Rakal.

And lastly: This might be a standalone book, but that never stops the fannish imagination! If you could have a sequel/second story with any of the other characters we’ve met in this book, who would it be and why?

Ahh, I want to see so much! Maxwell has created the perfect little glimpse of this great universe of space travel, galactic superpowers, and ancient artefacts and I want to see it all. I’d love to see more remnants and other ways they might get used (though please let’s keep Jainan away from all of these). I also really want to visit Thea and see it’s clans, it’s wildlife, it’s government… in my copy of Winter’s Orbit there was a Q&A with the author at the end, and she did say she’s planning on writing more within the world she’s created, though maybe giving Kiem and Jainan a much deserved break, so I really hope we get to see something new soon! I’d even love to explore beyond the boundaries of Iskat and its empire (well, not sure it is an empire anymore…) and see where the Auditor comes from and what sort of things happen in the non-backwater parts of the galaxy. So much potential!

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