Tress of the Emerald Sea Book Review

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Tress of the Emerald Sea Book ReviewTress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson
on October 24, 2023
Genres: adventure, fantasy, pirates, romance, young adult
Pages: 486
Format: eBook, Hardcover, Paperback
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This story follows an ordinary girl, Tress, on a journey from her tiny island of existence to save the man she loves. Along the way she picks up some unlikely companions as she uses her sharp mind and determination to overcome all the obstacles in their path.

Tress didn’t understand that it is quite possible to be so bad at something it seems implausible. In these cases, it stands to reason that such a person is in fact quite competent—because it takes true competence to feign such spectacular incompetence. It’s called the transitive property of ineptitude, and is the explanation for anything you’ve seen me do wrong ever.”

– Brandon Sanderson


Tress of the Emerald Sea is one of four secret novels released through Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter campaign and includes several beautiful illustrations by Howard Lyon. I highly recommend getting your hands on the kickstarter edition or the e-book as I am not sure if the illustrations are in the other editions.

This book was “un-put-downable” and I managed to finish it within a couple of days. I thoroughly enjoyed the world and the unusual magic system. If you’ve read any of Sanderson’s previous books, you know he is master of creating truly unique worlds. It is a fun and whimsical tale highlighting compassion, empathy, and the lengths we go to for those we love. Tress and her companions are bright and nuanced, and I love that we got to see a snippet of everyone’s backstory or motivations—showing that you can never truly judge a book by its cover.

Tress settled down, thinking about people and how the holes in them could be filled by such simple things, like time, or a few words at the right moment. Or, apparently, a cannonball. What, other than a person, could you build up merely by caring?

– Brandon Sanderson

Tress has the feel of a heartwarming Ghibli Studio movie and is perfect for readers looking for a cozy book full of whimsy. It is fast-paced, action-packed, and full of humor—I was laughing out loud throughout the whole book. The story is narrated by Hoid—one of my favorite storytellers of all time and a character that has made many appearances within the Cosmere. Sanderson succeeded in creating a novel that sits somewhere between The Princess Bride and Howl’s Moving Castle.

Rating Breakdown of Tress of the Emerald Sea

  • entertainment (5 of 5) – Like I mentioned above, this book had me fully engaged from cover to cover.
  • plot (5 of 5) – I love a great adventure story with an atypical heroine as a lead and good pacing to the story.
  • setting/atmosphere (5 of 5) – Great world building that brings in systems from previous Cosmere books as well as set up for future books.
  • execution (5 of 5) – Sanderson did a great job of inserting subtle clues throughout the book that steadily built up to the climax of the book. Some readers may just glaze over these little hints, but it really doesn’t take away from the story either way.
  • characters (5 of 5) – There is a good amount of character development, and I don’t feel like time was wasted on insignificant characters—Hoid made sure to only mention those who mattered to the story after all.
  • writing (5 of 5) – Written in Hoid’s typical sardonic voice, it was an absolute pleasure to read.

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