Tress of the Emerald Sea Review

Title: Tress of the Emerald Sea
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fantasy
Published: 2023
Pages: 483
Goodreads Rating: 4.66
Rating: 7/10

“One of the great tragedies of life is knowing how many people in the world are made to soar, paint, sing, or steer – except they never get the chance…”

Brandon Sanderson has an admirable plan to release four books in 2023 starting with Tress of the Emerald Sea! In the first of the four, follow our main character as Tress discovers her true potential on a death-defying adventure to rescue the love of her life. Pirates, deadly spores, and sea monsters are not enough to quell Tress’s determination to take on the evil sorceress responsible for her plight. But can a simple, unassuming girl from a small town accomplish this heroic mission? Maybe with the help of a talking rat… 

The Narrator 
I’ve been waiting for a Cosmere book to be narrated by Hoid. Wit. Cephandrius… whatever you choose to call him. And boy did it deliver! This book was full of… dare I say it… wit. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.) There was sarcasm, dry humor, and a general lack of maturity brilliantly combined with soapbox life lessons like a Hoid TED Talk. 

This story moves. The chapter set-up aids the speed at which Hoid regales us with this escapade. 400+ pages? It felt like 200. 

Life Lessons 
Remember how I mentioned a Hoid TED Talk? This book is packed with life lessons and advice. I’ll include a few below for your enjoyment. It feels like Sanderson is trying to reach through the book to inspire you to grab the reins on your life to discover your potential. Let me say… I’m inspired. 

“One of the great tragedies of life is knowing how many people in the world are made to soar, paint, sing, or steer – except they never get the chance…”

“Most people never live… because they’re afraid of losing the years they have left… years that also will be spent not living.” 

“What else would she have never known about herself, if she hadn’t left her home island? Worse, how many people like her lived in ignorance, lacking the experience to fully explore their own existence?”

“When one abandons fears and assumptions, an entire world opens up.”

“Enjoy memories, yes, but don’t be a slave to who you wish you once had been. Those memories aren’t alive. You are.”

Sort of YA? A coming-of-age story.
This is a tough one for me to include as a con because technically, Sanderson achieved what he set out to do. To create an adult fairy tale akin to The Princess Bride (read the Postscript at the end of the book). But… it reads like a YA story. That is partly due to the narrator and his “condition” throughout the book and partly due to the main character and her storyline. There’s a childish humor… with Hoid and his ailment. A naive innocence… where Tress is just too simple and basic. But to be fair to Sanderson, he based his story on a child with a shallow personality that developed throughout the story into something a bit deeper and more complex. To make a long con short… this is a coming-of-age story that I wasn’t expecting.

Speedy Learning Curve
I suppose this was unavoidable given that Tress of the Emerald Sea is a coming-of-age story. There are two examples of a conveniently speedy learning curve. First is with our main character. Tress, who begins the story as an unassuming, unassertive girl, suddenly becomes an imaginative engineer and brave leader. Second is a pirate who suddenly, and without much explanation, understands how to overcome a challenge set up by the sorceress. 

Brandon Sanderson is one of my absolute favorite authors. Given his history of complex, lengthy book series, it’s nice to get some stand-alone, shorter stories. I highly recommend Tress of the Emerald Sea and I look forward to the other three novels later this year!

Published by Caroline

Avid reader, board gamer, yogi, and photographer.

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