The Unbroken. Or the arms book, thanks to Tommy Arnold‘s fantastic cover art. And, damn, if that cover doesn’t make you want to pick up the book without even knowing what it’s about.
Massive thanks to Orbit and Netgalley for sending me an eARC in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own.
RELEASE DATE: 23/03/2021
STAR RATING: 5/5 ✶
SYNOPSIS: 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. (from Orbit)
OPINIONS: So, this is in no way an easy book. It took me ages to read, and I kept forgetting that it was still unfinished. But ultimately, once I finally finished it, there was no other rating than the full 5 ✶. It is brilliant, it is tough, and it confronts us with a part of Europe’s imperial past that we often like to gloss over. The Unbroken is set in a fantasy world, but with strong parallels to the real world history of France and the colonialisation of Africa. It packages these tensions in a personal story of love, betrayal and politics. While I am not the right person to go into this in depth, it certainly made me think.
The story is led by two main characters, Luca and Touraine. Luca is a princess, symbolising the colonial force, while Touraine is a soldier, taken from her family and culture as a child. They are fantastic characters to build a story around. Luca is a polarising figure, at least in my community – many people hate her due to what she symbolises, while I think she is trying to make the best out of a terrible situation, and actively working towards change, which makes me like her. But then, there are no good people in this story. Both Luca and Touraine have vested interests in the political game, and do whatever it takes to get there. And that is exactly what makes me like them so much, and what got me invested.
And, have I mentioned that the book is sapphic? It’s not a romance or a love story in any way, but there are queer elements and many shippable couples. I really appreciated the mostly queernorm world. The one gripe I had with the book – and this might entirely be down to me missing things because I read in chunks – is that there is magic, but I didn’t get much of a sense of how it worked or what it can do. But that’s a tiny point of criticism, and might well have been fixed in the finished copies even.