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Review of The Unbroken, by C.L. Clark

Reviewed by Stephen Case C. L. Clark, whose short fiction has appeared in places like FIYAH , Uncanny , and Beneath Ceaseless Skies , begins her first published novel with one of those opening sentences that either makes you put the book quickly back on the shelf because you don’t have time to learn an entire new history and geography or makes you lean in and take note because you love doing exactly that. “A sandstorm,” it begins, “brewed dark and menacing against the Qazali horizon as Lieutenant Touraine and the rest of the Balladairan Colonial Brigade sailed into El-Wast, capital city of Qazal, foremost of Balladaire’s southern colonies.” In this case, I recommend the lean in and take note approach. Clark paints the setting of the dusty edge of an empire not, as might be expected, to set up an epic that will spiral from this fringe to the empire’s heart. Rather, Clark spends the novel turning this expectation on its head, as a ragged backwater slowly comes to be seen and underst

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