The Unbroken by C.L. Clark – REVIEW
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.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Orbit.
Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
“Time to play the role, then. To gather all the pieces to her and see how she could make them move.”
Today is my turn on the blog tour for The Unbroken by C.L. Clark. This is a North-African inspired military fantasy with magic, betrayal and a beautiful w|w romance. The story is told from two points of view – Lieutenant Touraine, a conscript taken from her home when she was a child and now fighting for the very empire that took her, and Princess Luca, future rule of that empire.
“There were moments that defined empires, that determined how a reign would be remembered. Luca would look back on this day, years later, and know that this was one such moment.”
Politics and power are the key themes of the story. As Touraine returns to the country she was taken from, her past and present collide, leaving her questioning her loyalty. Is it to the empire that raised her, erasing her culture in the process, or the homeland fighting for freedom? Touraine was highly skilled in military tactics and combat and I appreciated the fighting scenes so much more because of this. She struggles with feelings of belonging and constantly having to prove herself as enough. I loved her journey so much as it felt authentic. She’s a flawed character who makes mistakes but keeps trying to find a cause worth fighting for.
“You don’t find a life. You have to make one, with the people around you and the causes you put your strength into.”
Princess Luca was intelligent, politically astute and cunning, cherishing hopes of brokering peace between the Balladairan empire and the Qazāl colony. The exploration of what makes a good ruler was fascinating and, like Touraine, Luca was a flawed character who made some bad decisions despite her good intentions. The disability rep was great in this book as Luca has a physical disability that is part of her character but never reduced to merely a plot point. The attraction between Touraine and Luca was beautifully drawn out and their chemistry was undeniable. Every scene with the two of them in was perfect.
“She was here because she was a soldier. A fighter. She didn’t know anything else, and she was good at it…It would be the death of her, but she’d always expected that.”
As tensions between Balladaire and Qazāl escalate, so do the tensions between Luca and Touraine. The high-stakes political manoeuvrings were intriguing and kept me gripped throughout. Characters are killed off regularly and I was afraid to become too fond of any of them. Betrayal is a frequent occurrence and knowing who to trust could mean the difference between life and death. The world-building was richly-detailed and evocative, and I felt completely immersed in the action. I’m already eager for the next book despite not knowing anything about it. If you’re looking for a bold and beautiful fantasy, with a fantastic w|w relationship, that also explores military strategy, colonialism, and politics, then The Unbroken is definitely worth picking up.