ARC Review: THE UNBROKEN (Magic of the Lost #1) by C.L. Clark (2021)

Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: March 2021
Buy Links: Bookshop.org| Unabridged Books | Libro.fm

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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. Clarke will be featured in an interview to be posted on March 23rd (release day).

Continue reading

ARC Review: TOWER OF FOOLS (Hussite Trilogy #1) by Andrzej Sapkowski (2020)

Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: October 2020
Source: NetGalley eARC
Buy links: Bookshop | Unabridged Books | Barnes and Noble

Read a NetGalley eARC
Content warnings: Gore, torture, bigotry 

I had no idea what to expect from a Sapkowski book unrelated to The Witcher. Dear readers, I was absolutely delighted. In this long first entry in The Hussite Trilogy, we follow the misadventures of Reynevan Bielawa, an idiot sorcerer who’s also an adulterer trying to win back his lover, escape her spouse, and not get killed by the Inquisition.

The prose here reminded much of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. There is no separating it from the time period (1400s Central/Eastern Europe) and the text is deeply sarcastic. It takes the time and the war very seriously, shifting to a lecture-esque tone when referring to historical events happening around the main characters. Sapkowski takes every opportunity to roast each charlatan we encounter. No one is necessarily evil, but the entire cast is shitheads. The sarcastic humor is incredible from the prologue.

The story’s relationship with magic is also very interesting. It lulls the reader in with a sense of “maybe the Church is just being paranoid in that way it had been in the time period,” but then surprises the reader with real spells, demonic possessions, and alchemy. It’s a truly wild ride, that also features some key figures of medieval history, namely Johannes Guttenberg and Nicolas Copernicus.

Sapkowski also does a thing that I greatly enjoy which is having chapter epitaphs starting with “In which (…).” I really helps set the tone and the shape of the narrative. Again, deeply sarcastic, but keeps a close eye to attitudes help by those neck-deep in the shenanigans and those watching from the outside.

A series first worthy of comparison to the romances of Chrétien de Troyes with an unexpected time period.