A review by foreverinastory
The Unbroken, by C.L. Clark

adventurous challenging dark tense slow-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

This is a sprawling slow paced military fantasy. The Unbroken explores the facets of colonisation/imperialism and all of the consequences in gritty details. The story starts off slow and stays that way for a while, but if you can invest the time in it, it's well worth it.

Touraine was stolen as a child and raised in the Balladairan empire. The only loyalty she has is to her fellow Sands, the other stolen Qazali child soldiers. Now that Touraine has been sent back to her homeland she has reckon with the ties she thought were gone and what rebellion means. Princess Luca needs to get her uncle off the throne. If she can stop the rebellion in Qazal, it will prove she's ready to ascend the throne. But negotiating peace comes at a higher price than she expects.

I am really glad I took my time with this book. I loved getting to know Touraine, the Sands, the Qazali and the whole world. It was immersive and I constantly wanted to know more about this world and the magic. Touraine makes a lot of mistakes and difficult decisions throughout this book. It was quite messy, but seeing the way her loyalties kept her torn between the Balladairan Empire and the Qazali felt realistic and truly illustrates how insidious colonisation is.

I wouldn't really categorize this as a romance, though there are some romantic relationships in this. I don't really know how to feel about the possibility of Luca and Touraine, especially after the end. There is definitely a power imbalance here and while Luca is a nice person, there's lived experiences she'll never understand. Plus throughout this we see Touraine constantly have to sacrifice those close to her, but Luca is constantly insulated from this choice. I guess the jury is still out on this ship for me, but I'm very invested in these characters future journeys, especially Touraine.

Rep: Sapphic BIPOC female solider MC, sapphic disabled female MC who uses a cane periodically, BIPOC supporting cast, wlw side characters, nonbinary side character, queer normative world.

CWs: Animal death, blood, colonisation/imperialism, confinement to prison cell, cursing, death, genocide, grief, gun violence, injury/injury detail, murder, racial slurs, racism, torture, violence, war. Moderate: fire, kidnapping, medical content, attempted/threatened rape, sexual harassment, slavery (forced enlistment of conquered people). Past mentions of child abuse/death by the military.
 

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