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Tress of the Emerald Sea

Cover art by Howard Lyon
Publication information
Genre(s) Epic fantasy
Publisher Tor Books
Publication date 1/11/23
Media type Hardcover
Pages 384
ISBN ISBN-13: 9781250899651,
ISBN-10: 1250899656
Preceded By The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance, Edgedancer, Oathbringer, Dawnshard, Rhythm of War

Tress of the Emerald Sea is a novel-length story written in Hoid/Wit's voice - not unlike The Dog And The Dragon[1] or Derethil and the Wandersail[2] - except 100,000 words long. Hoid is telling the story in-world to someone. Readers might be able to pick up some of the context of who he's talking to, but it's not meant to be explicitly obvious. That said, this isn't written to the reader, but is instead meant to be him telling the story to someone in the cosmere listening.[3]

In this case (unlike some of his stories), he's chronicling actual events in the cosmere. Meaning, Tress is a real person from the cosmere, and her world is an actual place: neither are Hoid inventions. He takes a few liberties in the narrative, but mostly, this is canon. Though the story isn't about him, he has a role to play in it, and readers will find out why he's there through the course of the book.[4]

This slightly fairy tale vibe is intentional, but the author doesn't personally consider it to be a children's book. It's meant to be something more like the Princess Bride. As one gets further into it, the fairy tale vibe fades a little (but not completely) into an epic fantasy - though one filtered through the prose and voice of a storyteller sitting down to tell about one of his adventures.[5]


And speaking of the Princess Bride ... that was actually a direct inspiration. This book came about because I showed the Princess Bride to my kids for the first time. I love that movie, and still do - as does my wife. But after the movie, we were chatting, and she made the observation that the princess from the film isn't terribly ... proactive. (To put it mildly.) The story is named after her, but she doesn't actually DO anything.

She can't even effectively hit a giant rat with a stick. The prompt for me, then, came when she asked, “Why did Buttercup just sit around after she heard her love had been taken by pirates? Wasn't there anything she could have done?

That's where it started. It mixed with me wanting to find places to work in the Aethers (which are very relevant to the later cosmere) into a book somewhere. That, plus my love of the process of fluidization (where a granulated material, like sand, behaves somewhat like a liquid when air is forced through it.) I rammed these things together. A world where people sail upon powder or dust, instead of water. A way to start introducing the aethers to people as a cosmere magic. And the basic premise: What if Buttercup were more proactive?

The result is Tress of the Emerald Sea. A tale of pirates, dangerous spores, and (because Hoid is involved) occasional self-important monologues. It will be the first of the four books in our Year of Sanderson Kickstarter, and will ship to you January 2023.

Brandon Sanderson[6]


TotES scene lamaery

Scene from Tress of the Emerald Sea
Commission by lamaery[1]

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?[7]


According to Brandon, in this story, Hoid is taking some artistic liberties. Readers can assume that he's tried very hard to get his stories right when he's taking such liberties to the point that one can take most of it as canon, even in Tress. Yet, he asks, did I get to the point in Tress about the Dougs? He doesn't think that he did. There's a point, for instance, in Tress where Hoid's like, "I can't remember all these people's names. I'm going to name them all Doug." He does things like that, acknowledging that he's telling the story after the fact. But he has a supernatural ability to retain stories and get close to the actual soul of the story. Readers may view all of these things as canon except for some of the places where he obviously fudges a little.[8]

The endpaper art, interior art and cover art for Kickstarter backed Tress of the Emerald Sea were all done by Howard Lyon.

Endpaper Art[]

Interior Art[]

Cover Art[]