Tress of the Emerald Sea

Tress of the Emerald Sea
Brandon Sanderson
Published date

“Tress of the Emerald Sea” by Brandon Sanderson is a standalone novel from the Cosmere universe. It’s a light-hearted story full of adventures, wonders, and profound truths about life. For those familiar with the author’s other works, the whole book is told in the voice of the well-known and loved world-hopping character.

Tress is a very ordinary girl who lives in a very peculiar (for us) world – on a small island that no one ever leaves, surrounded by a sea of verdant spores that could be very deadly. She is perfectly happy with her life; her main joy is collecting cups brought to the island by sailors travelling the world and talking to her friend Charlie. But when her friend gets into trouble, Tress embarks on an impossible mission to rescue him.

Reading this book was a pure joy for me. So many of my favourite themes are packed into that story – an unlikely hero, pirates, a journey into the unknown, the power of kindness and friendship, found family, an amazing and unique world – the whole package. And all that is sprinkled with sarcastic and hilarious commentary by the one and only narrator.

Typically for Sanderson’s books, we have a whole lot of great characters, each unique in their own way with the quirks that immediately make them lovable. Tress herself is a seemingly ordinary girl, but as the story progresses, we learn that there is nothing wrong with that, and it could be more practical than typical heroic types. Despite her expectations, she preserves against all odds and keeps pushing forwards, even though her task seems impossible. Her only superpower is her own kindness and pure heart. Thanks to her empathy and honest need to help others, she solves problems in a way that most people would never think of.

Another element expected from the author is unique worldbuilding. And once again, you won’t be disappointed. The main elements around which the whole world revolves are the spores that replaced water in the oceans. There are several different kinds of them with various colours and properties. All of them have one thing in common – once they get in contact with water, they explode in multiple ways. As you can imagine, sailing something like this instead of a regular sea is completely crazy. And because it’s a crucial element of the world, there is also a particular profession called sprouter – which, you guessed it – has to do with using spores and ensuring they won’t destroy the ship and kill everyone on it. Getting into this world and slowly understanding the intricacies of how everything works and how people deal with such a challenging reality was great entertainment.

Even though the whole story was kept mostly light-hearted, there were some scary and brutal moments and ones that made me tear up a little bit. And under all that fantastic adventures author managed to deliver all sorts of wise life truths worth reflecting on.

As a diehard Sanderson fan, I had no doubts that I would love this novel. This book could be an excellent start for all those who wanted to read something from the author but got intimidated by the vast epic ten-book series. “Tress of the Emerald Sea” is short, sweet, and enchanting. It has every element that Brandon is known for, and it’s all packed into one page-turning novel that can be enjoyed over a week or two or devoured in just one weekend. If you like adventures in wonderful, fantastic worlds, you will adore this book.