My reading has really slowed down this year. I’m behind on my usual pace of books read, and I’ve been in the odd position of having to renew novels at the library because it takes me more than three weeks to read them. But I did have one book that took me less than two weeks to read recently, Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson. I haven’t read Sanderson’s main series (though I have been on convention panels with him), but this book was a lot of fun. It’s one of the ones he wrote just to entertain himself, as a gift for his wife, during the pandemic.
He said the spark of the idea came from watching The Princess Bride and thinking about what would have happened if Buttercup had gone out looking for Westley when she heard he was attacked by pirates instead of just sitting at home and mourning. That’s basically the story of this book: A young woman’s best friend (who she’s realized she loves) goes missing while on a voyage, and she stows away on a ship to go out and find and rescue him. She ends up attacked by pirates, then joining a pirate crew, where she has to figure out how to save the crew (and herself) from the captain’s schemes before she can even begin to come up with a plan to rescue the man she loves from the sorceress holding him captive.
I enjoyed this book enough that I’ll need to buy a copy to keep because it makes for a good “comfort food” book, the sort of thing you read when you need something to make you smile and feel good. The heroine is utterly delightful, the kind of person who succeeds by being good and clever and kind (I also relate to the descriptions of her unruly hair, which makes me wonder if Sanderson remembers those convention panels …). The characters have excellent growth arcs, which makes for a satisfying read because you feel like they’re all ending up better than they were before. The narrative style is interesting because it’s first-person narration, but by a secondary character who’s witness to the events, but who also seems to have omniscient knowledge of all these events (I get the impression that he’s a character from Sanderson’s other series. This book apparently takes place in the universe of those books but is unconnected). The narrator is sarcastic, funny, and maybe a bit nuts. The tone of the narrative kind of reminds me of Terry Pratchett. The book is a nice mix of exciting, romantic, and funny. It’s also reasonably short, but I think I would have read it fairly quickly even if it wasn’t.