Book: The Unbroken by C. L. Clark
Source: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book from the publisher and Caffeine Book Tours as part of my participation in their tour.
Release Date: March 23rd, 2021
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Touraine is a soldier. Stolen as a child and raised to kill and die for the empire, her only loyalty is to her fellow conscripts. But now, her company has been sent back to her homeland to stop a rebellion, and the ties of blood may be stronger than she thought.
Luca needs a turncoat. Someone desperate enough to tiptoe the bayonet’s edge between treason and orders. Someone who can sway the rebels toward peace, while Luca focuses on what really matters: getting her uncle off her throne.
Through assassinations and massacres, in bedrooms and war rooms, Touraine and Luca will haggle over the price of a nation. But some things aren’t for sale.
- Depictions of colonial violence (physical and emotional) and destruction
- Past attempted rape
- Threats of rape
- Threats of torture
Thank you so much to Orbit and Caffeine Book Tours for giving me the opportunity to read this amazing book! To check out all the other stops on this book tour, head over to Caffeine Book Tours.
I am finding it so difficult to gather all my thoughts on this book, because there is just so much to talk about. Usually when I write reviews, I like to start by talking about what area of the book I thought was the strongest, but with The Unbroken, every aspect was fantastic. (Speaking of which aspects of the book were strongest, I think it’s safe to say that Touraine’s arms are really the stars of the show here).
The worldbuilding blew me away, the characters were so well developed, and the plot had me on the edge of my seat constantly wondering what would happen next!
The world of the Unbroken is heavily influenced by the French colonization of Northern Africa. C. L. Clark paints a vivid picture of Qazal, from the slums, to the markets, to the heavily colonized quarters of the rich Balladairian merchants. Right from the start the horrors that Balladaire has wrought onto the colonies is made clear. From stolen children, to stolen land, there’s nothing that Balladaire has left untouched. When presented with this situation you would think that any native born Qazali would hate the Balladairians through and through, however, for our main character Touraine, this is not the case.
For me, this is what made Touraine such an interesting character. She was uprooted from her homeland at such a young age, and when initially landing at the docks, the only emotions she can muster towards Qazal is disgust. For Touraine, the only things she remembers about her “home” are what her teachers in Balladaire drilled into her. Qazal is a land of the uncivilized. The native people are beneath her. She has been educated to know that their beliefs are antiquated and savage. I’m not going to get into spoilers, but the best thing about The Unbroken was Touraine’s character development. Throughout the book you get the see Touraine question her beliefs time and time again, wondering at the end of the day, who the real savages are.
Our other main character, Luca, is equally as interesting. Luca has been sent to the colonies by her uncle (the sitting regent) tasked with quelling the growing rebellion. Luca has a singular goal, and that is to peacefully stop the rebellion, and prove that she is finally ready to take the throne. What surprised me the most about Luca was how naively optimistic she was about Balladiarian relations with the Qazal. She initially recruits Touraine to help her negotiate with the rebels, which is something I never would have thought a royal of an imperialistic country would do. Throughout the book Luca struggles with wanting a solution that serves both sides while also proving that she is fit for the throne.
The Unbroken is full of twists and turns. Whenever I thought I knew what decision a character would make, they completely surprised me. I gave this book 4.5 stars for its beautiful writing, well developed characters, and fantastical worldbuilding. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book, although if I’m being honest, I can’t really see what could possibly happen in a sequel since the book wrapped up rather nicely. Regardless, I am still eager to read whatever book C. L. Clark puts out next!
About the Author:
Cherae has been a personal trainer, an English teacher, and an editor, and is some combination thereof as she travels the world. When she’s not writing or working, she’s learning languages or reading about war and post-colonial history. Her short fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, FIYAH, PodCastle and Uncanny. The Unbroken is her debut novel.
Have you read The Unbroken yet? What’s most important to you when reading Fantasy, the characters, the plot, or the worldbuilding?