The Unbroken is a dense military and political novel that includes bags of character development and growth. It’s a slow moving, detailed, rich world-building style fantasy that concludes in an explosive ending that will have you glued. Its protagonists aren’t always the most likeable or easy to root for, but they will grab your attention and give you perspectives you probably won’t have come across before.
Star rating: 5 stars
Touraine is a soldier in a Colonial Brigade. Stolen from their home countries when they were small children, Touraine and the other soldiers nicknamed The Sands have been trained to fight for the colonising country Balladaire (often chosen for the battles with the worst odds or sent in as first to face the fires). The Brigade is sent into the country where Touraine was born, Qazāl, in order to squash a rebellion. Luca is a princess in waiting on a mission to prove herself ready to take the Balladaire throne. Stopping the rebellion in Qazāl is key to achieving this, but she needs someone to help her sway the rebels. Circumstances bring Touraine and Luca together, two very different people with very different backgrounds, which makes for an electric story.
Touraine’s character is so unique for a fantasy novel. Her journey from supporting Balladaire to connecting with her homeland is honestly one of the best I’ve ever read. Sure, she makes some very questionable decisions throughout the novel that can be frustrating for a reader, but I loved that it showed her confusion. The novel really delves into how her eyes are opened during her time in Qazāl and I found that to be such a powerful arc. Luca is also an interesting character, very ambitious and determined to get her throne from her Uncle, but also wanting peace. Her desires are conflicting which makes for an interesting set of choices and decision points for her.
I think both of these protagonists and the way their wants don’t quite gel with each other really does make for some amazing character dynamics, particularly because they’re also attracted to each other. Their relationship with each other is so push and pull, I really couldn’t figure out where it was going and if they’d ever be on the same page. I do love that the book is set in a world where queer people are treated the same as straight people.
There’s also some really cool magic going on in this story and I really don’t think we’ve seen the half of it yet! Plenty of room for further expansion in the next book which I’m very much looking forward to. The side characters (both the rebels and the colonisers) were also great to read about, even if I hated some of them!
Overall, The Unbroken was an incredibly rich book that was a slow read for me purely because I wanted to absorb every single part. I am really curious to see where C.L. Clark takes the story next after the ending because wow it was super explosive. Have you read The Unbroken yet? If you picked up The Jasmine Throne and She Who Became the Sun, why not complete the sapphic trifecta?