Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson: Book Review

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Tress of the Emerald Sea
Title: Tress of the Emerald Sea

My Review:

The inside flap of my copy of this book describes it as a “riveting tale that will appeal to fans of The Princess Bride.” I hesitated over that. I love The Princess Bride. So much. That description is setting some very high expectations and I don’t know if it’s possible to meet them.

Sanderson did it.

The book isn’t any sort of retelling or anything like that but it just captured some of the quirky magic. Talking rats, a mute man with an unusual way of communicating, a pirate who loves to shoot cannons but who literally can’t hit the broad side of a ship, spores of different colors that will kill you if you breathe them but at the same time everyone sails on them…. You can kind of see it, right?

Tress is just an average girl who grew up on a tiny speck on an island and never saw herself as anything special. But once she ventured out and encountered bigger situations, she grew as a person and developed her talents to meet them. I loved seeing her character change, become more assertive, and learn to ask for help! And, I’ll be honest, I love books where the damsel rescues the boy and there simply aren’t enough of them. Add this to the short list.

I read this pretty quickly just because I wanted to see what would happen. There were so many good quotes that I didn’t take the time to flag so I’ll probably re-read it at some point and do that.

In the author’s acknowledgements, he writes that “I envisioned these books being kind of an ‘artist’s showcase,’ where we picked an artist and let them go a little wild with what they wanted to do in creating the book. Howard [Lyon] did so much on this book. The cover, the endpapers, the interior illustrations–but really, the entire design owes a lot to him.” That was a special Kickstarter edition and my hardcover only had one real illustration but it’s gorgeous. I’m seriously thinking about asking for a fully illustrated edition for a holiday or birthday.

GoodReads lists this as Cosmere #28. I read it without having ever read any other Sanderson book before and followed along just fine. I got the feeling I was missing some backstory on one or two side characters, but I saw that as completely unimportant. I firmly believe it can be a standalone novel.

If you like your fantasy novels to be populated with quirky characters who care for each other, grow, throw out witty one-liners, and have lots of fun and danger along the way, this is the book for you.

Synopsis from GoodReads:

The only life Tress has known on her island home in an emerald-green ocean has been a simple one, with the simple pleasures of collecting cups brought by sailors from faraway lands and listening to stories told by her friend Charlie. But when his father takes him on a voyage to find a bride and disaster strikes, Tress must stow away on a ship and seek the Sorceress of the deadly Midnight Sea. Amid the spore oceans where pirates abound, can Tress leave her simple life behind and make her own place sailing a sea where a single drop of water can mean instant death?

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