A Daughter of No Nation
by A.M. Dellamonica
Cover Artist: Karla Ortiz
Review by Sam Lubell
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765334503
Date: 01 December 2015 List Price $26.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Daughter of No Nation is the sequel to Child of a Hidden Sea. In the first book, Sophie Hanasa, photographer and biologist, discovered her birth parents were from a magical fantasy world called Stormwrack. In A Daughter of No Nation, Sophie is asked to return to Stormwrack to help in the trial of her mother for concealing Sophie's existence from her father, Cly Banning, a Duelist-Advocate with the Fleet, the military/legal organization that fights pirates and resolves disputes between the nations.
Although her Stormwrack-born half-sister and her mother's allies try to prevent Sophie from learning anything new about the world and its creatures, even confiscating her scientific equipment and cameras, she continues to show her scientific curiosity and training. Her attempts to apply science to this magical world are some of the best scenes in the book, although there is less emphasis on science in this book compared to first one.
Instead, the author devotes more attention to the political plot. Cly wants to get to know his daughter so invites her to his lands in the kingdom of Sylvanna. Cly seems to be very accepting of Sophie, even providing a laboratory and returning her scientific equipment and books. He wants her to help establish a forensics unit for the Fleet and prove that his enemies are behind the spread of throttlevine. But when Cly almost kills a pirate captain after he surrenders, Sophie worries that her father might be a sociopath, and starts looking for signs in his behavior. Then she is shocked to learn that Sylvanna practices slavery and her father is a slave owner. Cly also has an ulterior motive behind his acceptance of his daughter since in his society people without children are legally not full adults. But if Sophie does not spend the agreed time with her father, her mother's legal case will suffer.
The book has low-level magic. If they know the full name of a person, Inscriptors can alter memories and cure people. Sophie stays in communication with her brother on Earth through paper magically linked so that what is written on either sheet appears on both. There are also some magical creatures.
A Daughter of No Nation has more romance elements than the first book. A major subplot is Sophie's rescue of a girl who says her beloved's brother tossed her out of her boat to keep a bird she had tamed. She is afraid that if she does not return soon, her beloved will kill himself out of grief. But evidence mounts against her story. Meanwhile both Sophie and her 17-year old half-sister have a romantic interest in Garland Parrish, the captain of the sailing ship Nightjar adding to their personal conflicts.
In many ways this book feels like the middle book in a trilogy. Readers learn more about Sophie's father and his conflict with Sophie's mother, but Sophie's status relative to Stormwrack is not resolved. Nor is it clear yet how Stormwrack connects with our Earth, although there are clues that this is a post-global warming future.
Readers who like a scientific approach to magic, strong female characters, and family sagas will enjoy A Daughter of No Nation. Readers should read Child of a Hidden Sea first.