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My thoughts on Secret Project 1

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This book was an incredible read.

Honestly, one of my favourite of Brandon’s works to date. Everything about it just seemed to ‘click’ for me, and once I started reading, I found myself unable to stop.

So, I hope you all don’t mind, but I’d like to gush for a bit.

Hoid has always been a great narrative insert character, as in I feel he works well no matter the narrative he’s inserted into. I’ve always found him quite entertaining. So, to have the whole book narrated by him and coloured by his voice was a really nice change of pace from Sanderson’s usual style. It allowed for a lot of unique prose and story-telling asides. The ‘Doug’ breakdown is a great example of this.

I also enjoyed all of the narrative encouragement that he offers throughout the story, addressing the reader or listener with little anecdotes and asides about the nature of life and one’s own sense of worth. I couldn’t get away from that arrogance and self-worth line. It’s something I struggle with a lot.

Beyond that though, I loved the fairytale, Princess Bride vibe to the whole story. It helped put the focus on the entertaining elements and less on the overall stakes. This isn’t a Rhythm of War type narrative, with a bunch of heavy twists and heaving turns – it’s just a good story told well.

Tress is a fantastic protagonist. Her thoughtful nature and her desire to not be a bother was especially relatable to me, and no doubt many others. Her pragmatism was also a joy. Reading Hoid rave about how she sat back and thought on how Crow related to the Sorceress before she acted on her assumption was wonderful. Yes, more common sense in stories please!

I also loved how much the book focused on how normal she was, and how wrought that phrase is with bias. There’s no such thing as normal; everyone is different and shaped by their experiences. Seeing Tress gain more confidence over the book, and how she started exploring her interests and gaining trust in her friends, felt natural to me. And at the end, we see that she’s still the same kind person that she was at the start but molded into something stronger.

I also enjoyed Charlie/Huck throughout. Though I did see the reveal coming, I didn’t guess the context of how the curse worked. Initially, I found the scenes of him trying to prevent Tress from reaching the island a bit annoying. As Hoid said, the ‘it’s for your own good excuse’ isn’t a strong one.

But then we learn that her going there was literally part of the curse. Charlie would rather betray Tress and stay as a rat forever than put her in his position. Great stuff. I only wish we had more of their interactions. (Also, love how the line “My whole family are rats” works when you realize he’s talking about his father).

The supporting cast were fantastic as well. The officer’s journeys and how they grow to accept and trust Tress, as well as overcoming their own internal struggles. Ulaam’s kandra weirdness adding a nice touch of levity to the whole shebang. Even the Dougs and how they’re not really Dougs, they’re people equally as important as everyone else (that Pakson scene was well done).

Crow was also quite interesting. Her demeanor as an unkind person brought to the point of desperation, uncaring about all beneath her right up until that nature undermines her (which, as it turns out, was likely her best option) was well handled in my opinion. A suitable antagonist for sure.  

On the cosmere front, this book had a ton to offer. As others have mentioned, this feels like it was written for the detail-obsessed cosmerenauts that Brandon knows we are (I chuckled at that ‘The trowel was steel’ moment. In the same vein though, it also feels like a lighter touch than was in the Lost Metal; more “check out this cool stuff that’s going on”.

Really liked the exploration into the aethers magic system and the contrast between how the Sprouters and Twinsoul use them. There’s something quite exciting about how the same magic system can be used in multiple ways with slightly varying rules.

It also made me curious as to what the other aethers do. We’ve now got Roseite, Verdant, Zephyr, Midnight, Sunlight and Crimson (plus Bone aether- white sand perhaps?) What other colours and effects will we have in store?

Apart from that, there were so many awesome references and implications. Sazed freed the kandra…why? The Ire are going strong, and one of their agents is playing Sorceress. It seems that Selish magic is becoming more wide-spread and given its versatility, how much could that start playing into the more advanced societies. The Nalthin Awakening technology was also pretty neat, and really expands on what that magic system is capable of.

Of course, Xisis the dragon and the first canon look at Dragonsteel was incredible, and I felt awed by how much power and composure he fielded. Plus, the cloth he wrapped Crow in; was that Awakening? Can dragons do that without verbally expressing a Command? Makes me excited to see more of them in the future.

But honestly, the one line I enjoyed the most was Tress’ “Death, with nails in his eyes.” Marsh is one of my favourite cosmere characters, so to see that he, or his legend, is circling throughout the cosmere, even in this late era, is awesome.

Overall, a fantastic read. I’m sure that it won’t be for everyone. If you’re not a fan of Hoid’s voice, it could even feel like a drag. But for me, this is peak Sanderson. Unburdened by deadlines and expectations, just writing a good story for his wife and then being willing to share that story with us.



If you actually read all of that, I thank you. Have a lollypop for the road :)

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