There are few archetypes as exquisite as a wonderfully written royal. The rogue, the runaway, the wrathful. Whether it’s in a fantasy kingdom or catapulting through the stars this character is truly *chef’s kiss*. Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell is just one recent addition to make good on that promise. This debut is bursting with romance and the escapism of a good space opera.
Winter’s Orbit follows Prince Kiem, who has a reputation for being utterly disappointing and the Emperor’s least favorite grandkid. He’s created this scandal-prone reputation that I can’t help but find charming. The best he can do for his family is become used as a pawn to strengthen ties between them and a new vassal planet. The Emperor does exactly that, and so Prince Kiem is commanded to marry Count Jainan. Now, where Kiem is a space rake, Jainan is softer, quieter. Jainan is a recent widower of an entirely different prince, and to make matters more complicated, he is a suspect in his late husband’s death. As the princes get closer, can their union become more than a peace treaty between an empire and its vassal planet?
Here’s a list of five other Science Fiction and Fantasy novels with royals that will abscond with your heart.
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
If, like me, hate-to-love is your bag, look no further than A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown. This debut fantasy takes its inspiration from West African folklore and creates a rich and magical world. Malik and his family are refugees looking for a new life in the prosperous city of Ziran. But when an evil spirit abducts his younger sister, Malik offers to do anything to get her back. The only thing he was to do is kill the new queen, Karina. His best chance to get close to her is by entering in the Solstasia festival competition.
But Karina has problems of her own. After her mother’s murder, she’s thrust into queendom, and she has no idea if she’s cut out for it. In a moment of desperation, she makes a deal to resurrect her dead mother. Naturally, there’s a high price for her, too. The heart of a king. Luckily for Karina, she offers her hand in marriage to the winner of Solstasia’s competition.
I love Malik. He is a perfect example of a soft, loveable hero. But I want to shine a light on Karina. MY GRRL. She takes the reins of her destiny and makes things happen. This is not someone you want battling against you, and yet, the best moments are when she and Malik are realizing that may, just maybe, in the process of needing to kill each other, they might have caught feelings.
Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik
We’re still in a pandemic so, escape way, way out of this world with Jessie Mihalik’s Consortium Rebellion trilogy. Book one, Polaris Rising follows a space! princess! on the run, as well as the outlaw she strikes a bargain with. Leia and Han vibes can commence from here on out. In Polaris Rising, Princess Ada chose to flee instead of accepting a political marriage. For two years, she’s survived on her own but then she’s caught and thrown into a cell with an alleged murder called the Devil of Fornax Zero. Infamous for having killed his squad, this space rake might be her only way to escape. When her jilted ex ruins everything by intercepting her ship bound for Earth, Ada makes a deal with the Devil. Literally. This rebel princess is everything I love from a heroine. The romance is ~hot~, the dialogue is snappy, and the series is complete and ready for you to binge.
Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott
I do not use the phrase “I would read this author’s grocery list” lightly. But when it comes to Kate Elliott, that is applicable. Kate Elliott’s latest, Unconquerable Sun, gender-remixes the ancient Greek ruler Alexander the Great in Princess Sun, a girl who has come of age under the shadow of her fierce mother. Sun has a legacy to contend with. Her mother, Eirene, is the fierce queen-marshal who expelled invaders and turned their land into a republic. But, as her family’s enemies scheme to rid Chaonia of its heir, Princess Sun turns to unlikely allies to survive. Among them are her biggest rival, her secret love, and a dangerous prisoner of war. What I love about Sun is that she’s a cunning sci-fi heroine who is imperfect, and all the better for that. Elliott’s space opera is so detailed that you can see all aspects of the cultures and politics she’s created, which makes for excellent tension.
A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy
If you want a little less romance and more along the lines of family drama, then A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy has the murderous royals for you. Amanda Joy’s debut follows two sisters who must battle to the death in order to determine which of them will rule the Ivory Throne. A River of Royal Blood follows Eva, a princess born with the magick of blood and marrow. This kind of magick hasn’t been around for generations of Myre’s Queendom, and it’s the source of the rivalry. This kind of murderous family history gives rise to corruption, so much so that assassins are on Eva’s trail. When so many people want you dead, you have to turn to someone for help. That help arrives in the form of a fae prince who helps Eva wield her ancient magick. But even harnessing this skill may not be enough. Eva’s lineage is built on familicide. Is power worth the love she still has for her sister?
Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco
If you’ve been missing the paranormal romance subset of fantasy, then Kerri Maniscalco’s Kingdom of the Wicked might scratch that itch. It has witches from Italian folklore, a quest for vengeance, and romance with a dark prince of hell who feels like an embodiment of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. In Kingdom of the Wicked, twins Emilia and Vittoria are streghe (witches) who live secretly among humans. When Emilia finds Vittoria’s body dead and desecrated she will do everything possible to get the justice her sister deserves. Here comes Wrath, one of the Wicked princes of Hell. He claims to want to help Emilia and that he’s been instructed to solve the other murders of women on their island. I mean, “trust me” feels like famous last words when such a dark prince is involved. Emilia isn’t ready to trust, but her relationship with Wrath is such a simmering slow burn. They want to kill each other and also kiss, which is my favorite kind of conflict. Emilia has witnessed the worst thing that could have ever happened to her sister, and she’s smart in being wary of trusting Wrath. For starters, his name is Wrath… But for this prince of hell, there is more to him than meets the eye.
Originally published February 2021.
Zoraida Córdova is the award-winning author of the Brooklyn Brujas series, The Vicious Deep trilogy, and Star Wars: A Crash of Fate. Her short fiction has appeared in the New York Times bestselling anthology Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View, and Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women and Witchcraft. Zoraida was born in Ecuador and raised in Queens, New York. When she isn’t working on her next novel, she’s planning a new adventure.