Reviews tagging Forced institutionalization

The Unbroken, by C.L. Clark

6 reviews

paigemandia's review against another edition

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adventurous dark tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.0

Idk this one just didn’t really do it for me. I loved most of the characters, except the protagonist touraine just annoyed the hell out of me. None of her decisions were thought out and she just made mistake after mistake. We love a flawed character but she was just not doing it for me. I did love how this novel approached colonialism and institutionalism—that was definitely the strong point of this novel. A lot of it just felt rushed and the characters weren’t built up enough for a lot of the deaths to effect me. It was entertaining enough and the magic system is interesting, so I am looking forward to seeing if the next books in the trilogy are better. But happy to have read 1/3 of the sapphic golden trio. gotta get the jasmine throne next 🙏🏻🙏🏻

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candidceillie's review

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5.0

literally all of the CWs for this one. It's a hard book. 

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liminal's review

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adventurous challenging dark emotional sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

I love this book. The characters beyond the two POV characters were so interesting and vibrant. Love the Jackal, for example. This book is about two characters from the opposite ends of the power spectrum in a colonised city. A princess of the empire, and a conscripted soldier from that particular colony. Just one warning - don't read for the romance, while it has a romance threaded through it that is not the main focus. While this novel absolutely deals with themes of colonialism and racism, there doesn't seem to be any homophobia or biphobia. one MC is a bi disabled woman, with a lot of privilege,the other is a lesbian. There are a wide range of ages represented, including some amazing women in their 50s. The setting is broadly based on France and colonialists North Africa.

My only beef with this novel is that some key elements felt rushed, and I had to go back and re-read a few chapters. Sometimes it wasn't clear who was speaking. Also I didn't feel like Touraine got a real chance to establish her badassery before she was thrown into fish out of water. Her loyalty to the sands felt a bit stop/start but then as an ADHD person I absolutely forget groups of people that deeply matter to me so.

However I absolutely felt for her and got so angry on her behalf throughout the whole novel. There were amazing scenes that had me cheering and passages I want to go back and annotate. As a debut novel this is stellar and I would recommend to fans of the Baru Cormorant series, Sabaa Tahir, and anyone looking for queer fantasy that doesn't focus on romance. Steer clear if you're looking for books without exploration of colonialist/racism.

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dedonohoe's review against another edition

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adventurous emotional hopeful tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0


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queenmackenzie's review

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adventurous dark tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

The story is set in a queernorm North African inspired fantasy world, where Balladaire –a French style nation– has expanded and colonised Qazāl, a desert city, banning their religion as uncivilised, taking advantage of their people for menial labour, and stealing their children to raise them as soldiers for the empire. This is where Touraine, one of our main characters, comes in. She was born in Quazāl but at five years old was taken by the Balladairans and trained to be a soldier. She was given an education, and she rose in the ranks of the “Sands”, as the conscripts from Balladaire’s colonies are called, to become a lieutenant. She believes that if she works hard enough, and proves her loyalty, she can rise even further and gain recognition and prestige for her troop. 

Now, however, Touraine and her soldiers have been shipped out to her homeland to maintain order in an environment full of tension; rebels are growing bolder, and the death of the Balladairan king who first added Qazāl to the empire has thrown the balance of power. This is why princess Luca Ancier, the king’s daughter, has also travelled to Qazāl; she needs to reestablish control over the colony to give her regent uncle no reason to deny her the throne. When she arrives however, an attempt on her life will lead her to Touraine, and they will find that they need one another to reach their goals. 

‘Know a person’s desires, and you have leverage—give a person their desires, and you have an extension of your own will.’

It is an absolutely wild ride, let me tell you! I don’t generally read military fantasies, but the amount of praise this book has already generated from fellow reviewers and other genre authors made me want to read it, and I’m so glad I did. 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. 

There is a lot that goes on in this book, and a lot of the time I found myself groaning as either Luca or Touraine did something stupid that had terrible consequences (which would usually turn me off of a story), but it all felt very in-character, and I loved watching their relationship develop. Touraine, with her strategy and soldier training, and her beautifully muscular arms (I definitely stared at the cover of this book far too long), and Luca with her academics, idealism, and desire for power. Not to mention the fact that one woman is the product of the colonialism of the other’s family. They definitely butt heads, and yet there is also a respect and tenderness there that I really enjoyed reading. 

‘Touraine was starting to think it was impossible to come from one land and learn to live in another and feel whole. That you would always stand on shaky, hole-ridden ground, half your identity dug out of you and tossed away.’

The themes tackled in The Unbroken are incredibly contemporary; the effects of colonialism and forced cultural integration, the dismantling of religion and the question of faith, the value of human life over the continued wealth of those already in power… It was particularly interesting for me to read the nuances of the dispossessed characters in this story; Touraine and her “Sands” are not from Balladaire, and yet they have been given a Balladairan-focused education, have been stripped of their first language, and have been beaten out of their faith. When they return to Qazāl they do not relate to the locals, but those born in Balladaire will never see them as equal. As a person who has lived in a few different countries by choice, it is already hard to reconcile cultural identities, so I can only imagine a sliver of what it must be like for those who have no say in the matter. This is actually addressed in the book too, which was really interesting; some of the children of Balladairans who live in Qazāl have grown up there their entire lives, and they too struggle to know where they fit in. Clark has created a complex, chaotic world that feels incredibly real. 

There are so many other things I could say about this book! There are so many little details I picked up, and I know that on my next read I’ll notice even more. My favourite detail has to be grief rings, which people wear to commemorate lost loved ones, generally spouses or children from what I understood. I don’t know if this has any equivalent in a real world culture, but it was something that really struck me. I also thoroughly appreciated that one of the characters is a bookseller, and he was probably my favourite minor character. Go Saïd! 

Overall, a stellar debut, and I will be eagerly awaiting book two in the Magic of the Lost series. I hope we get to explore a little more of the map, and perhaps see a bit more of the magic.

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swordsandstarships's review

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adventurous dark emotional mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0


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