Loyalty and Complicity in “The Unbroken”

The Unbroken by C.L. Clark

The Unbroken by C.L. Clark transports you to a North African inspired world where colonialism and war challenge the loyalty of a soldier. The first in a new epic fantasy series, Clark’s impressive worldbuilding and character development will leave you wanting more.

The Unbroken begins with Lieutenant Tourraine arriving in her homeland (El-Wast) with her comrades to quell a rebellion. Stolen as a baby and raised as a soldier, Tourraine seldom questions her loyalty to the Balladairan army and empire. However, during a hanging in which she’s the executioner, a man recognizes her. And even after his death, his words still haunt her. But that might as well be the least of her worries. She’s kidnapped by rebels and then, after being rescued, framed for the murder of one of the army’s generals — a crime punishable by death.

Meanwhile, Princess Luca seeks an assistant willing to switch sides. She aims to usurp the throne that her uncle currently claims. Tourraine has saved her from an assassination attempt, and so when the army condemns Tourraine for the murder, Luca takes the chance to save her from death. As the two grow romantically closer, the desire for power and freedom becomes more complicated than they expected.

The story alternates between Tourraine and Luca’s (third person) perspectives, providing insight into the politics and social dynamics of this world. At the same time, Clark keeps up with the tension and high stakes. Political intrigue fills the pages of this riveting novel. The world, queer normative, is immersive and vivid. Clark sets enough details to paint a full image of the setting and how the characters move in their environment. Women are in positions of power and referred to as sir. Princess Luca is physically disabled (uses a cane). The chemistry between Luca and Tourraine simmers then crackles.

Clark has crafted a riveting story about realizing where our loyalties lie and the consequences of defection and complicity.

The Unbroken (book link) by C.L. Clark is available from Orbit Books. You can read an excerpt here.

I’ve received an ARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author: Brahidaliz Martinez

Brahidaliz (pronounced Bra-da-leez) is a 2019 graduate of American University’s MFA in creative writing program. Their cross-genre chapbook, Coquí’s Song, is forthcoming (2023) from Mason Jar Press.

Pronouns: he/they
Location: DC Metro area

Twitter: @brahidaliz


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