Review: The Unbroken (C. L. Clark) – Magic of the lost #1 | a unique fantasy with lots of political intrigue and sapphic tension

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There’s something about books with political intrigue that, well, intrigue me! If you manage to add a unique fantasy concept with important themes and diversity to those political elements and boom, you got me as a reader! The Unbroken by C. L. Clark, which is the first book in the Magic of the lost series, definitely drew me in that way. I’d never heard of a book about colonies before, which seemed like something pretty important to read about, and with everything else this fantasy debut had going for it, I just couldn’t resist picking it up!

I was excited to dive into this North-African inspired world! And, let’s not lie here: the sapphic romance definitely played its part in my excitement. Today is my spot in the book tour for The Unbroken, so let’s just see if this book lived up to my expectations, shall we?

What is The Unbroken about?

The Unbroken (Magic of the lost #1) by C. L. Clark
Publisher: Orbit books
Release date: 23rd March, 2021
Genre: Adult, Fantasy
Representation: North-African characters, sapphic, m/m, non-binary side character
Trigger/Content warnings: depictions of colonial violence, gore, past attempted rape, threats of rape, threats of torture

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Touraine is a soldier. Stolen as a child and raised to kill and die for the empire, her only loyalty is to her fellow conscripts. But now, her company has been sent back to her homeland to stop a rebellion, and the ties of blood may be stronger than she thought.

Luca needs a turncoat. Someone desperate enough to tiptoe the bayonet’s edge between treason and orders. Someone who can sway the rebels toward peace, while Luca focuses on what really matters: getting her uncle off her throne.

Through assassinations and massacres, in bedrooms and war rooms, Touraine and Luca will haggle over the price of a nation. But some things aren’t for sale.

What did I think of The Unbroken?

This book is not at all what I expected it to be, and if I’m being honest I have no idea how I can rate this book. It’s so unlike anything I’ve ever read before and despite it being so, so strong and well-thought-through, I can’t say I loved this book. Did I love reading it? Yes, definitely. But despite fascination, this book didn’t make me feel enough to say I loved it.

And still I definitely recommend this. It’s powerful and important and unique and, again, so strong! It deals with a lot of heavy themes, too. I do think my favourite aspect of the story is Touraine’s character arc because wow. It was so good to a mind-blowing extend, one of the best ones I’ve read about for sure.

Touraine’s story is one of overcoming her internalised racism and the thing that made it so good for me was how she didn’t just realise it and moved past it, but she had to take little steps to overcome it. I loved seeing her development and it is definitely something everyone can learn from.

“They have no right to determine how the rest of us live.”

C. L. Clark, The Unbroken (quoted from an advanced copy)

As for the romance; it’s a very small part of the story. Most of it is just sapphic yearning and tension which I actually really didn’t mind. There was definitely chemistry between Luca and Touraine, but there’s so much that needs to happen with Luca’s character before I would actually be able to root for them. But then I think that’s exactly what the author intended to do.

C. L. Clark is definitely an author to watch though. If this is her debut, I don’t think I will survive whatever else will follow in this series and other books. I loved the honest writing this book had and how it truly grabbed me. The dialogues are so, so good, too! Every character just had such a different voice and I could see each of them saying the things they did. It just…fit.

“Have they seen you bleed? Have they seen you kill anyone? Does she know your voice when you’re scared? Could she pick your laugh out of a crowd?”

C. L. Clark, The Unbroken (quoted from an advanced copy)

Now, why only 3.5 stars? First of all, it’s a gut feeling, but most importantly: it is because I think that despite all the things I’ve praised this book for, I think the sequel can be an absolute masterpiece. The Unbroken leaves a lot of room for an astounding second book that will steal my heart! So, ehm, I need it right this second!

Overall this book is really well-thought-through, powerful, impactful and many other things. Despite not leaving me a mess, it did leave me craving for more! If the second book had been lying next to me, I can assure you I would’ve picked it up not even three seconds after finishing The Unbroken. Consider this 3.5/5 very positive!

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review! This did not affect my opinions in any way.

About the author

Cherae has been a personal trainer, an English teacher, and an editor, and is some combination thereof as she travels the world. When she’s not writing or working, she’s learning languages or reading about war and post-colonial history. Her short fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, FIYAH, PodCastle and Uncanny. The Unbroken is her debut novel.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

About the tour

If you’re interested in other fun content surrounding The Unbroken, be sure to click here for the tour schedule! I’ve seen some pretty epic book bloggers and booktubers review this book!

This tour was hosted by Caffeine book tours! Thank you for letting me participate!


And that’s all for this review again! I hope I’ve managed to put another book on your TBR and that you, of course, enjoyed reading my thoughts! I’m already anticipating the sequel despite there not being any information yet (can you hear me scream?), oops! Either way…

9 thoughts on “Review: The Unbroken (C. L. Clark) – Magic of the lost #1 | a unique fantasy with lots of political intrigue and sapphic tension

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