Clark’s debut introduces a remarkable LGBTQ+ culture amid a story of colonial conquest, exploitation, prejudice, and brewing revolt in a land with a lost history of mystical powers ... Fans of epic military fantasy will eagerly await more from Clark.
The synopsis of this book was enough for me to claim it as one of my most anticipated releases this year. That, and the gorgeous cover, of course. But clearly, these were not enough to prepare me for the magnificence of this book. The Unbroken is a military fantasy that is tense, brutal, and unabashedly frank about the complexities of love, loyalty, and imperialism/colonisation ... This book dives deep into politics and military tactics, and at first I thought I would have a hard time following it all, but instead, I was enamoured ... The Unbroken also showed the complexities of colonisation so openly in this book which I really appreciated. I think it’s rare that I get to see a fantasy novel like this, where colonisation is such an integral part of the plot and a significant theme in the story ... Overall, The Unbroken was an epic journey from start to finish. It’s brutal, it’s suspenseful, but most of all, it punches you right in the feels.
A queernorm world dealing with racism, magic, and head-versus-heart decisions creates rich settings and characters ... This strong debut is filled with exciting action and worldbulding, intriguing characters dealing with themes of colonization, military conscription and indoctrination, and an explosion of feelings. Readers will be clamoring for more of Touraine and Luca before they finish.
Clark introduces characters as if they’re old friends, trusting the reader to infer the connections between Touraine and her fellow soldiers. Although this feels jarring at first—for the first several chapters, the reader almost constantly feels as though they have missed something—it quickly becomes one of The Unbroken’s greatest strengths. As the book submerges the reader in this way, it gives the story a unique urgency and drive, and it persuades the reader that if you just keep going, the answers will reveal themselves ... Clark presents a searing and unflinching view of European colonization in North Africa, and of Africans’ struggle against it, and she refuses to soften any of the harshness or resolve any of the complications inherent in those events ... for all the disturbingly plausible grime, gore and occasional horror that coat every surface of this tale, The Unbroken is not a dark fantasy. There is a current of optimism that flows throughout.
Clark conjures an elaborate fantasy world inspired by Northern Africa and delves into an international political conflict that draws on real histories of colonialism and conquest in their excellent debut, the first in the Magic of the Lost series ... Clark’s precise, thorough worldbuilding allows this remarkable novel to dive deep into the intricate workings of colonialism, exposing how power structures are maintained through social conditioning and exploring the emotional toll of political conflict. The result is a captivating story that works both as high fantasy and skillful cultural commentary.