Read an ARC provided by the author
Content warning: depictions of colonial violence, gore, past attempted rape, threats of rape, threats of torture, disembowelment, graphic violence, vomiting, plague, destruction of sacred sites
I was beyond thrilled to receive an ARC. I’ve been hearing so much about the beauty of Touraine’s arms, the complexity of the world-building, and more. This book delivers on so many notes, from the nuanced depiction of a rebellion against an empire to the complexity of the key players to fine detail work woven throughout.
Continuing conversations started by works like The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson and The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang, The Unbroken turns colonist narratives on its head with two resilient main characters trying to do their best in a political structure that wants both of them to fail.
Author C.L. Clark will be featured in an interview to be posted on March 23rd (release day).
If political intrigue is your thing, you are in for a treat. The twists and turns, the betrayals, the negotiations, it it all so intricate and only escalates. Not only that trust is a tenuous thing that is hard-earned, seeing the dominos fall from key decisions and which deals get made had me on the edge of my seat. Don’t worry, there are plenty of street skirmishes and physical fights, but the verbal choreography and power plays thrill from beginning to end.
The world-building is so thorough and so layered. Balancing between two different cultures, the attention to detail Clark presents in their debut absorbs the reader. I really enjoyed the smaller details, like in the opening where Touraine doesn’t know what a camel is and the differences between the languages. The more serious notes, like the specific tensions between Shalan and Balladaire are handled with such nuance. The characters are all so well-written, with clear character arcs, wants, and needs. And they all make mistake in a way that is achingly honest.
There are also some delightful tropes found within these pages, like language tutoring, a ball, character development via chess. The relationship between Luca and Touraine works incredibly, both on a craft level and a personal level. There is chemistry between them, and I especially want to see how their interactions will develop past the last page. It’s flirty, but it’s fraught. One of the things that stands out about this book is how the macro tensions are reflected in the interpersonal tensions. Themes thread clearly throughout from start to finish.
I cannot wait for other people to read this book.