The Nature of a Pirate by A.M. Dellamonica

The Nature of a Pirate by A.M. Dellamonica (Hidden Sea Tales #3)

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Tor Books on December 6, 2016

Source: Publisher

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My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

Marine videographer and biologist Sophie Hansa has spent the past few months putting her knowledge of science to use on the strange world of Stormwrack, solving seemingly impossible cases where no solution had been found before.View Spoiler »

Guest Post

Today I’m very pleased to be bringing you a guest post by A.M. Dellamonica, a Canadian science fiction and fantasy writer who’s won numerous awards including the Prix Aurora Award for Best Novel. Her work often explores queer themes, and her portal fantasy series Hidden Sea Tales has been nominated for a Lambda Award.

As you probably know by now, reading and celebrating books written by and about queer people is really important to me, so I was absolutely thrilled when Dellamonica agreed to write a post discussing her experiences writing queer characters in SF/F. Please welcome A.M. Dellamonica!

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Sophie Hansa was adopted as a baby and never knew her biological parents, for good reason: they belong to another world. Stormwrack is similar to earth during the Age of Sail, but with significantly less land mass…and magic. Governed by the Fleet, a floating city comprised of hundreds of ships, Stormwrack is a place where people’s names are powerful ingredients in working spells or intentions; and it’s also a place where Sophie’s knowledge of science is scorned. Sucked into Stormwrack against her will, Sophie gradually begins to fall in love with her biological parents’ home world and takes on a series of missions there.

Secretive, deeply politically divided, and bound by rules of etiquette that Sophie considers old fashioned, Stormwrack is a fascinating world that I’ve really enjoyed learning about throughout the series. In THE NATURE OF A PIRATE, Dellamonica delves more deeply into the particulars of Stormwrack’s various cultures and practices, most notably the slave trade. Understandably, the slave trade is a bitter pill to swallow for both Sophie and her brother Bram (many Stormwrackers feel the same) but it plays a large role in the social hierarchy of Stormwrack. The siblings get up close and personal with slavers in this book, and the results are pretty spectacular…to say the least!

Sophie also connects more deeply with her biological family and the Verdanni half of her heritage in THE NATURE OF A PIRATE, which was a treat to read about. The Verdanni are a powerful people in Stormwrack: they lay claim to one of the largest landmasses on Stormwrack and their agricultural practices have made them quite wealth. A matriarchal people, the Verdanni are ruled by the Allmother and celebrate women – but they also expect a lot from them. This means that Sophie’s relatives Beatrice, Verena, and Annela are pretty badass ladies who also have giant chips on their shoulders…much like Sophie herself.

The character growth in THE NATURE OF A PIRATE is absolutely phenomenal, and as the star of the show, Sophie has really come into her own throughout the series. She’s more confident in her own abilities and intellect, more sure of her place in her family (both adopted and biological), and she’s also more experienced in the ways of Stormwrackers. I’ve also really enjoyed seeing Bram, Sophie’s brother, grow more assertive and stand up to Sophie when he thinks his big sister is trying to walk all over him. Of course, I’m also biased because Bram’s gay and y’all know I love a queer character… But he is really cool, I promise!

With a satisfying yet slightly open-ended conclusion, THE NATURE OF A PIRATE is a strong instalment in a solid series about magic, family, finding yourself, and – of course – sailing. If you like books with fantastic PoC and queer representation, or you’re hoping to read more stories set at sea, then I recommend the Hidden Sea Tales series.

 What are your favourite books set at sea? Have you read the Hidden Sea Tales series? Let me know in the comments!


  1. I haven’t had a chance to start the series, but it sounds really cool! I’m a total sucker for protagonists who know their science…

    Also, very cool to read some thoughts from the author in this post too! I always enjoy getting ‘behind the scenes’ looks at what authors/artists think about their media.

    1. It is really cool! Scientific methodology and discovery is a huge part of this series so it’s definitely up your alley!

      Same, I love getting to peek behind the curtain and see what issues are on authors’ minds when they’re writing. ????

  2. Pirates, ok cool, this one sounds promising to me

    1. Who doesn’t love pirates, right?

    • MaddalenaSpaceandSorcery

    • 6 years ago

    This is the first time I heard about this series, and to say I’m intrigued would be a *massive* understatement… Thank you so much for sharing this!

    1. Eeee I’m so glad to hear that you’re intrigued! This series deserves more love, it’s a really original read.

  3. I’d not heard of this book before. It sounds like the characterization and character development were the best parts of the book. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Danya!

    Wonderful review. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    1. Yeah, the characters are the real winners here for me — but the world comes in at a close second! Characters are the most important factor that determines whether I’ll enjoy a book so I’m not surprised I had a lot of fun with this one.

      Thanks Alyssa! ????

  4. I was sent this book earlier this month. I saw “Pirate” in the cover and was immediately intrigued! I was sad to see that it’s the third book in a series though, and I haven’t read the first two (though I think I have book two on my shelf somewhere). Any chance, however little at all, this can be read on its own?

    1. Hmmm. That’s a toughie! I’m going to say yes, you can still read it since the author does a really good job recapping things. But you’ll definitely miss out on the finer points of the world and character development, I think…

  5. This book sounds really cool, I may have to check out the start of the series. I mean, I saw pirate and was a little interested already (I don’t know what it is, pirates, dragons and thieves are things which instantly make me interested in a book). Luckily, the book itself and the series as a whole also sounds interesting so I feel justified in being hooked by the word pirate.

    Can I also say that guest post was so interesting to read. I kind of wish I hadn’t read it in bed in my pyjamas before I wanted to go to sleep because I am sure I didn’t process everything fully because my brain is already asleep but the whole concept of fully developed queer characters who are not defined by their sexuality and not having their story be determined by it either is just so true. It’s great that it’s no longer the token black guy or the gay best friend who are characters. People have stopped falling into the trap of stereotypes and are remembering to just write people instead, and that really is great.

    I just really liked this post for the author’s thoughts on writing queer character SF/F and it just made me want to read the book more.

    1. Yes yes yes! If only pirates, dragons, and thieves could all star in the same story. Wait…that has to exist, right??? Hahaha, yeah I was totally hooked by the mention of pirates too!

      I’m so glad you liked Dellamonica’s guest post, Becky! Honestly I couldn’t have asked for a more thoughtful, interesting read. I agree with her too: queer characters are important, but there needs to be a lot more to them beyond their sexuality or gender otherwise…yeah. Stereotype territory.

      Eeee good! I’m sure she’d be thrilled to hear that her post has swayed you toward the series even more. ????

    • Lynn Williams

    • 6 years ago

    What a great title. I would love to give this series a shot – I’ll put it on my wishlist.
    Lynn 😀

    1. All the titles in this series are great! I’m especially fond of the title for book 2, which is Daughter of No Nation.

      I hope you get a chance to pick up this series soon, Lynn!

    • Greg Hill

    • 6 years ago

    I don’t read nearly enough fantasy set at sea so I’m all over this. Sounds like a cool world… and I love that name Stormwrack. Awesome cover too. I’ll have to go look for the first one.

    1. I feel the same way! There’s something about sailing ships that just beckons for a fantastical story, I think. Hopefully you can find a copy soon, because I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

    • S.M. Stirling

    • 6 years ago

    The whole series is great stuff — and original, too.

    1. I couldn’t agree more! Plus it’s always exciting to discover a new Canadian SF/F writer.

  6. These series sounds really good. And I have never read a fantasy book at Sea!!

    1. It’s a lot of fun, and the setting is one of the best parts! I definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a book set at sea.

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