ARC Review: The Unbroken

Hopefully, you’ve all heard of this book. Hopefully, you’re all as in love with the cover (and those arms! 😍) as we are. But if you haven’t heard of it, or have only been tangentially interested in it (as inexplicable as this seems to us), let us do our best to convince you that you need to get your hands on this book.

In a political fantasy unlike any other, debut author C. L. Clark spins an epic tale 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.

The Unbroken

C. L. Clark


Rep: Black lesbian mc, bi mc with physical disability due to injury, wlw side characters, mlm side character, nonbinary side character
CWs: violence, gore, past attempted rape, threats of rape, torture
Release: 23rd March 2021

The Unbroken is a book, the review of which I have been unable to write for over a month. Even now, sitting to write this, I have no idea what I’m going to say. It is probably one of my favourite books of this year. It is definitely one of the best fantasies I’ve read this year. If you enjoy in-depth, political high fantasy (think The Traitor Baru Cormorant), then this book is for you.

The Unbroken follows two POVs: Touraine, a soldier in an empire’s army, returning to a homeland from which she was kidnapped as a child along with the rest of her company, and Luca, the princess who should be on the throne but for her uncle and who has been sent to quell a rebellion. Together, they have to find a way to broker peace.

Like I said at the start, this is a political fantasy, and it’s a fascinating one at that. It’s a look at empire and the damage it does — it is very much along the lines of The Traitor in that respect (also The Jasmine Throne, which is coming later in the year). What makes all these books stand out, I think, is that, after a while reading fantasy, you see that there’s a lot of books about the conquerors, or the rebels/resistance, but not so many that look at the people in between. The people who have complicated feelings about the empire are, I think, a more interesting exploration than those who fully believe in it (and this is perhaps what contributed to my liking Touraine’s POV more than I did Luca’s).

And then there’s the world! I loved how, in this, there are different types of magic, how some countries have magic and some don’t. Because then you can look at the lengths Luca will go to to claim that magic (which parallels the empire, I suppose, ransacking countries because it thinks it’s entitled to something from them. Luca feeling she is somehow entitled to the magic just because she is seeking it). And it’s going to add an interesting dimension to the sequel (especially given what Touraine did at the end of this one).

It is, though, a fairly slow book, punctuated by moments of action (which is no bad thing! I actually enjoy that about most adult fantasy, where I don’t with YA fantasy. I just wanted to let you know, in case you weren’t expecting it). It’s a definite slowburn, but done so well, you can just feel the tension that builds in the city over time. It’s one to savour as you read so you can catch everything that’s happening as well.

All of which to say: if you don’t pick this book up come March, I may never forgive it.

So, have we convinced you that you want to read this book?

6 Replies to “ARC Review: The Unbroken”

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