The Wulver’s Library‘s Review of Tress of the Emerald Sea (Secret Project #1) by Brandon Sanderson
Look, it’s Brandon Sanderson so you know my views will always be slightly biased, but I must say that I didn’t think this was a 5-star read for me.
Secret Project #1 (or Tress of the Emerald Sea) is one of four projects by acclaimed author Brandon Sanderson that he surprised us with during lockdown, but this isn’t your typical Sanderson story.
This is the tale of Glorf, or Tress, as told by Hoid. Tress is a washer who leaves her small island to rescue her true love Charlie from the evil Sorceress. Along the way we meet a merry band of pirates and embark on a swashbuckling adventure in true Sanderson fashion. 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?
I enjoyed this story. I loved how it felt Cosmere-y but there was a different tone in the story from Sanderson’s usual works. For me, there’s no lyrical poetry and there’s a certain folktale quality to this. The book may be classed as YA and come off as a little more telling but it worked for the story. The plot is a straightforward story of challenges and obstacles, but I will admit that the twists took me by surprise. For a bleak story, Sanderson wrote this as an idealistic nurturing of character that became a joy to read. Tress was a brilliant addition to the Cosmere and I hope to see more of her in the future.
The issue I had was that I felt I expected more. A lot happened at the end but the journey itself was very Cytonic-esque so I felt we had that already. The comedy fell flat, and a lot of questions remained unanswered. I enjoyed this for an expanded universe, and this will appeal to Sanderson fans. I’m still excited to read more of the projects.