Not gunna lie, this might have absolutely been a ‘OMG that cover – put this book into my face right nowwwww’ book. Because, I mean just look at it. 😍
I’ve heard many good things about this book, and so when I had the opportunity to read a NetGalley of it, I couldn’t resist diving right in!
So thanks to the author, as well as Orbit via NetGalley for the review copy!
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.
“I am walking a very tenuous edge of welcome.”
“Are you? What did you do?” Touraine’s voice was thick and slurred, even to her own ears.
“Sky above, you really are drunk. By proxy, I took over their country.”
This is the story of the land of Qazāl, and the Balladairan Empire which has colonized it. Touraine is a soldier, born in Qazāl, taken by the Balldairan Empire as a child, and taught to fight for them. Now she’s come back to a place that she doesn’t consider home, to help protect Luca, the princess and future queen of the empire. Meanwhile, Luca is trying to avoid a full scale rebellion by the Qazāli, while also trying to make sure that her uncle doesn’t usurp her throne while she’s gone. And many shenanigans are had along the way!
This was a really great read. The world it depicted was one that I found easy to imagine. I mean, there are definitely parallels between France’s colonization of North Africa in our world and the one described here. But even aside from the parallels, it was just easy for me to picture Qazāl’s hot, desert landscape and the city within and its townhouses mixed with riad-style houses and old temples. The city took the form of Marrakech in my head, or, at least… what I imagine Marrakech is like.
I liked Touraine, even when she makes bad choices. She was an easy character to cheer for, and I just found myself wanting her to succeed in her endeavors. I liked Luca a little less, but I still enjoyed reading the bits that were from her point of view. There were side characters that I really enjoyed, like Bastien and Djasha. There were also characters that I rather enjoyed hating, like Beau-Sang, General Cantic, and Captain Rogan. There were a few times where I felt like the decisions characters made were beyond bad decisions and into ‘But why tho?’ territory, but I have to say this wasn’t often enough that it soured the experience. Sometimes people just make decisions on an emotional whim. It served to make the characters more real, to me.
One of my favorite things about this world was that even despite all other things going on, there appeared to be very little to no stigma regarding sexuality. Touraine and Luca have a relationship (of sorts – I won’t spoil the deets) with each other, and the fact that they are both women isn’t an issue that anyone seems to have with it. Luca is offered a marriage contract with one of the children of another character, who has a daughter and a son, and whether it is the daughter or the son that is chosen as the consort seems to be of no consequence to the offer at all. I found this detail to be rather refreshing. I was expecting the relationship between Luca and Touraine to have a ‘forbidden love’ spin, and it did somewhat, but it wasn’t because they are women. I also love-love-love that women in this book held positions of power without that being the exception to the rule. The general, most of the rebel leadership, and the governor of the colony are all women. Both colony and empire have women in places of power and it was just how things were. Since this world has so many parallels with our own, details like these stood out, and I appreciated them a lot.
All told, I really enjoyed my time with The Unbroken, and I eagerly await the opportunity to read further into the story. If you enjoy political fantasy, you are quite likely to enjoy this book as well! I can’t wait for more. 4/5 stars!~