“At the dawn of things, in the eon known as the Whole, Iyetra was a complete, harmonious world and its inhabitants lived with the blessings of the gods, watched over under the authority of the Advent.”
In the usual manner of humans, the Shattering is the effect of our own glorious stupidity. The two opposing factions that led to the Shattering were the Advent that used the gods and magic, and the Imperium that believed in machines and destroying those who could access the powers of the aether. As a result of the fighting between the two opposing factions, the gods chose to shatter Iyetra into pieces. But for some reason they did not want all humans to die out so they made it possible for them to live in the Chaos that came from the shattering. Living on pieces of earth (floaters) the size of cities/countries/continents people go about their lives the way people generally do.
One of these floaters is Koton, the city that ambassador Tela Niala is supposed to negotiate an agreement with. Koton is led by the Magisterium, the “child” of the Imperium. While the Magisterium is not as fanatical as the Imperium, it does have a rather dim view of those who are able to access the aether.
Why Tela’s father would choose his own magically inclined daughter to travel to the male-dominated, magic-hostile floater Koton is a mystery. Perhaps he is willing to sacrifice her in a gambit to increase his own power-base. After all, even people who supposedly have a lot of power, like Tela’s high ranked senator father, can hunger after more. Tela was annoyed enough at her father that she demanded that the usual group of body-guards be left out. He relented. I found that suspicious as well. Tela’s father had to know something about the situation in Koton that we and she did not.
Tela starts off as an insecure graduate from magic school and becomes someone more comfortable with her own gifts/powers. While it might not be appropriate to call Sleeping God a coming of age story it certainly is a coming of self story. Being thrown into the jaws of death could have that effect on some people. Her father might have landed Tela the job as an ambassador, but in the end Tela earns that title through her own actions.