Dive into a world of mystery and adventure with Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson. A captivating coming-of-age fairytale featuring one of the most intelligent and thoughtful protagonists in fantasy today. In this spoiler-free review of Tress of the Emerald Sea, aka Sanderson Secret Project #1, you will see what makes this story so unique so you can decide if it will be the next book on your TBR.
What is Tress of the Emerald Sea?
Tress of the Emerald Sea is the first book released in the Year of Sanderson. Last year, author Brandon Sanderson launched one of the most funded Kickstarter campaigns. He announced that backers would receive special editions of not one but four secret novels that he had written without anyone even knowing. During 2023, these books will be sent out to backers and then made available for purchase by the public.
No need to stress if you didn’t back the Kickstarter; all the books will be available for everyone to enjoy. I purchased the eBook of Tress of The Emerald Sea as I did not get a chance to back the original Kickstarter. Ebooks release to the general public one week after backers get their copies; physical copies release three months later.
Tress of the Emerald Sea: Synopsis
Tress lives as a simple window washer on a small island called The Rock. Her life isn’t thrilling. She doesn’t long for adventure. All she wants is a peaceful life, enjoying her collection of cups and spending time with the boy she is falling in love with, Charlie.
Charlie is the son of the Duke, though he pretends to be just a simple guard. When the Duke discovers the relationship between Tress and his son, he whisks his son away to be married off. Charlie refuses to be controlled and, instead of complying with his father’s wishes, annoys all his potential suitors so he can return to Tress.
When the Duke’s boat returns to The Rock, Charlie is nowhere to be seen. His father lets the people know that he was taken by the evil sorceress and will not be returning.
Tress refuses to sit and do nothing. So she plans and thinks and decides to take that adventure to find the sorceress and save Charlie.
She heads off on a journey across the sea. The sea is not a sea as we imagine because, on this planet, the moons drop spores onto the surface, making up the dangerous seas. Tress must sail the deadly spore seas, where she becomes an unwilling member of a group of pirates, meets a dragon, gets a talking animal companion, and even comes face to face with world-hopping beings from other planets.
With the odds stacked against her, will Tress be able to save Charlie? Will she even be able to save herself?
Spoiler-Free Sanderson Secret Project #1 Review
Tress is Sanderson’s ode to the fairytale. While this is a cosmere novel, it is pretty different in tone than anything else he has published within his interconnected fantasy universe.
Tress is a book that will appeal to many fantasy readers. It is a fun and well-paced pirate fairytale fantasy in a new world within the cosmere.
When it comes to rating, I gave Tress five stars. I rate based on feeling and enjoyment, and enjoyed every moment of this story. If you want more of a review than “it was fun,” you can keep reading and see more coherent thoughts below.
Is Tress of the Emerald Sea a Cosmere Novel?
Tress is most definitely a cosmere book. The connections are strong, and the world-hoppers are out in force. There is no beating around the bush anymore; Sanderson fully inserts characters from other books within his newer Cosmere works.
I won’t go too deep into the specific cosmere connections in Tress here, but the story’s most obvious one is the narrator. Hoid himself tells it. Inserting his snarky optionins throughout the narrative in the most entertaining ways. Not only does he tell the story, but he is also in the story. Hoid isn’t the only world-hopper, but I will let you see if you can spot the others.
Tress of the Emerald Sea Magic System
The magic system in Tress of the Emerald Sea is like no other in the Cosmere. Instead of it being “magic,” something naturally occurring within an individual, it is something that literally anyone can do. Technically, they aren’t even doing magic.
The spores that fall from the moons and make up the seas can do different things when wet. Each spore type does something different when given water; a person can practice and master working with spores.
This isn’t the first time we have seen this “magic” in the Cosmere, though it is presented differently. This magic within Tress is an unnatural version of something we are introduced to in The Lost Metal, Mistborn Era 2. I won’t go into spoilers here, but it is an exciting crossover.
What About the Sanderlanch?
The Sandderlanche in this book is perfection. It is a wild ride, with twists and turns you did not see coming! I loved how the twists came at you one after another. We get big reveals, funny moments, shocking revelations, and glimpses of what we can expect in future Cosmere books.
Everything culminates in a satisfying ending that leaves the door open to revisit Tress and her friends at some point in the future.
Should I Read Tress?
Absolutely! This is a fun and whimsical entry to the Cosmere that I think all fans will really enjoy!
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