Book Review – Tress of the Emerald Sea

Secret Project #1

A story about a girl named Tress who lives on a rock island in the middle of the Emerald Sea. This is no ordinary sea though, it is not filled with water, but instead its filled with spores dumped from one of the four “moons” of her planet. Here on this rock, she is a window washer, and best friend to the “gardener” who happens to be the Duke’s only son, Charlie. When Charlie is forced by his father to leave the rock island, he promises to return to Tress, however things don’t go as planned and his father sends him into the Midnight Sea to face the malevolent Sorceress. Tress will not stand by and let her friend suffer such a terrible fate, so she sets sail into the Emerald Sea and has a dangerous adventure that will change both her and Charlie’s lives forever.

This story was one of the best I’ve read in the last year. It was full of adventure, friendship, perseverance, hardship, frustration, and whimsy. It was cozy in the way that all great fantasy adventure stories are, it pulls at your heart and makes you hope that there will be nothing but happy-endings for everyone. It was a love story, but it was so much more than that. It was a story about a girl braving the unknown for the boy she loves by using her kindness and empathy to bring unlikely heroes together to create a wonderful found-family.

All of the characters were great, but Tress specifically was an amazing protagonist. This story would be perfect for the 14-20 year girl age group as Tress is an excellent role model. She’s honest, hardworking, and brave in the face of adversity. Even when she’s down being literally kicked, she shows remarkable perseverance and determination to do what is right and protect those she cares about. I don’t know how Sanderson writes such powerful women, but I think he’s one of the best at it.

This story is narrated by Hoid (Wit) from the Stormlight Archives series, meaning that this story takes place within the grand Cosmere Universe. Hoid is both not the Wit we know in Rhythm of War, as he’s been cursed by this Sorceress and spends a lot of time being odd and unusual in totally brilliant ways, but he is also the Wit we know as he tells the story with his unique brilliance and tendency to make fun of himself. It was absolutely entertaining to read! Sanderson included some additional information at the end of the book (unrelated to the story) about his desire to write a story about Hoid’s past and that he used this tale to practice doing that. While this story’s Hoid is silly and literally dimwitted, his future book for Hoid will be something more serious. There’s a few nods to other Cosmere works from Hoid so those were fun to come across.

The story itself was magical. I am blown away by the imagination that Sanderson has and how much thought he puts into the physics of his worldbuilding. That there’s not just one but FOUR “moons” who dump spores onto this world, creating different kinds of seas is amazing, but to also have those spores do incredible things when they get wet was a whole new kind of magic that takes it to another level. I want to know more about this world and I really hope that Sanderson someday writes more about what happens to Tress and the crew after this story ended.

I will say that I figured out what was happening along the way pretty easily but that did not change how great the adventure was. The character growth was excellent and the danger and frustration was perfectly balanced. Even Captain Crow was likable in her own terrible way. There’s even some disability representation in the story that I thought was very inclusive and I enjoyed it’s importance in the story.

Well done, Sanderson. I can’t wait to read the next of the Secret Project releases.

Overall, I give it a 5 out of 5.

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