Title: The Unbroken (Magic of the Lost #1)
Author: C.L. Clark
Publication Date: March 23, 2021
In an epic fantasy unlike any other, two women clash in a world full of rebellion, espionage, and military might on the far outreaches of a crumbling desert empire.
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.
Why This Book
The Unbroken is the story of two women: the soldier Touraine, who was taken from her home and raised to serve the empire; and the princess Luca, who needs to prove herself as the empire’s future ruler and desperately needs someone to help her quell the brewing rebellion in Qazal. When Touraine returns to her homeland, the two women are drawn into each other’s orbit as the effects of colonization play out around them.
Why this book? Set in a fantastical version of Northern Africa, the world is dusty and brown and deserty. It felt incredibly stark to me, and quite hot, considering it’s a desert. Of course it’s sun drenched. While a desert doesn’t feel like a typical setting for a summer read, I’m not really sure why not. After all, I grew up on the edges of a desert and enjoyed a nearly year-round summer season, so this one popped into my head early on when I was compiling this month’s Shelf. What setting could be more sun drenched than a desert?
My review: “The story is complex. There are about a million things going on, but it’s also really easy to keep track of it all. Touraine and Luca were the perfect characters to carry it all off, to expose all the secrets and machinations for the reader. Still, there were some unknowns, but that just heightened the mystery of what, exactly, was going on and what was going to come next”
Kate from blogging with Dragons gave this 3 stars, saying “For me the standouts of the novel were undoubtedly the female characters and their relationships, as well as the representation of LGBT+ characters and a disabled main character. I also was incredibly intrigued by the magical system, which sadly, I felt was a bit vague. My biggest issues with The Unbroken revolved around the main romance between a princess, Luca, and one of the people she colonized, Touraine, and the lack of credibility I felt of those characters in their respective positions”
Brigid from The Alliterates gave this 5 stars, saying “What makes Clark’s writing stand out really comes down to their character building, and such perfectly written descriptions” and “The Unbroken is like being hugged by some knives, very beautiful and sharp knives”
Caitlin from Realms of My Mind gave this 4 stars, saying “THE UNBROKEN is a story of the bloody mess that results from colonialism, and does so through its fantastic character work. Touraine and Luca pull this story through, even while they’re both making a mess of a situation”
Azucchi from The Book Nook said “It’s beautifully executed. It has a diverse and well-rounded cast, with Touraine and Luca being the two point of view characters (third person, past tense narration, for those of you who like to know). However, I will say that you should not go into it lightly. This is a story of war, rebellion, and imperialism, and not everyone will live to see the other side”
Rums from Rums the Reader said “I’ll say straight off the bat, this book won’t be for everyone – it’s slow moving at times, painful and ugly, and the characters are as morally grey as you can get, they make decisions that you’ll hate them for but it’s all so well done, I couldn’t help but appreciate all these things anyway. C.L. Clark has performed a coup here by bringing all these threads together in this way and wow is it effective”
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