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The Emperor’s Soul

The Emperor’s Soul

The Emperor's Soul

When Shai is caught replacing the Moon Scepter with her nearly flawless forgery, she must bargain for her life. An assassin has left the Emperor Ashravan without consciousness, a circumstance concealed only by the death of his wife. If the emperor does not emerge after his hundred-day mourning period, the rule of the Heritage Faction will be forfeit and the empire will fall into chaos.

Shai is given an impossible task: to create—to Forge—a new soul for the emperor in less than one hu

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3 comments on “The Emperor’s Soul

  1. 113 of 114 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Brandon’s best work in the shorter format, October 9, 2012
    By 

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    This review is from: The Emperor’s Soul (Paperback)

    As an admittedly rather rabid fan of Brandon, I tore through this book when it showed up on my doorstep today. And I have to say, it is an excellent, excellent novella, certainly Brandon’s best effort in this format yet.

    The Emperor’s Soul is set in Sel, the same planet as Elantris (though very far apart from where Elantris takes place). The magic in this world takes the form of elaborate seals, the inspirations for which were drawn from the red signature seals commonly found on East Asian artwork. Though in our world it only leaves an impression of authorship, on Sel, an intricate seal can be used to change the history of an object in a process called Forgery, thus changing its present state. A battered old desk can be Forged so that it had a caring owner in the past, transforming it into a sturdy, well-maintained version of itself. The book follows the captivity of a talented Forger who is faced with an impossible task; Forging the soul of the emperor, who has been rendered brain-dead by an assassination attempt.

    I found that a usual problem with Brandon’s other novellas is that they feel like a chapter in a larger novel; interesting, but without a strong conclusion which leaves too many open plot lines and a sense of frustration when it ends. However, The Emperor’s Soul focuses on one self-contained event (that of Shai’s captivity), so despite the short length of the book, the conclusion of the novella gives a sense of immense satisfaction to the reader.

    To express myself in a more succinct way, The Emperor’s Soul feels like it was _meant_ to be a novella, rather than a novel put on a diet against its will. The book is jammed packed with emotion and tension, but it works well because it is short enough that the reader isn’t emotionally exhausted by the end of it. Every character introduced pulls their weight in carrying the plot along. No words are wasted while the book makes surprisingly deep inquiries into the complex motivations of each character. The entire book just feels _tight_.

    In the end, all I really want to say is, well done, Mr. Brandon Sanderson! You’ve successfully mastered the art of the novella.

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  2. 25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Clever, philosophical and poignant. I want more!, October 13, 2012
    By 
    Kriti Godey (Oberlin, OH) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: The Emperor’s Soul (Paperback)

    The Emperor’s Soul is set on Sel, the same world as Elantris (but in an empire far away and unrelated to those events.) Shai is a master of the art of Forging – mutating an object’s history to change its appearance in the present. However, she’s been caught trying to steal the nation’s most famous relic, and now she awaits execution… unless she can forge the emperor a new soul in just over three months. An impossible task, but Shai will take any chance she gets.

    Brandon Sanderson is in top form as usual, despite the shortness of this novella. Shai is a thief and has no compunctions about being opportunistic, but her driving force is her pride in her art. She’s proud and tenacious – almost to a fault. I wouldn’t exactly say she’s lovable, but who doesn’t love a good noble thief? The supporting characters, with the exception of Gaotona and Emperor Ashravan, don’t really have enough time to be developed, but that’s understandable for a book less than 170 pages long.

    I loved the examination of identity in this book. In order for Shai to be such a good Forger, she has to be extremely good at observing both people and objects – the little things that influence them, their motivations, how they can be manipulated. She needs to be able to produce her desired changes with the minimum of effort required for it to appear natural (think about the complexity of planting an idea via a dream in Inception – it’s the same concept.) Shai does this instinctively, and it greatly adds to the complexity of the plot and the world building. Of course, she also does it deliberately, and how she pieced together Ashravan’s life from notes and interviews is fascinating.

    I was slightly dissatisfied at the end because it was over too quickly and I wanted more! More of the characters, more plot, more of the world. I can’t really complain about that, though – this is a novella, and I knew that going into it, and Sanderson does a great job with it. The only thing that felt rushed was Shai’s task [SPOILER WARNING] – she said it would ordinarily take her two years at least, but she manages to complete it in three months – why was she able to do it so much faster? I would’ve liked some sort of explanation. [END SPOILERS]

    I hope Sanderson writes more books featuring Shai and the Empire – perhaps even coming into contact with characters from Elantris.

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  3. 25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    A Novella That Feels Much Bigger Than It Is, November 5, 2012
    By 

    Brandon Sanderson is fantastic at creating magic systems. From the fully realized Mistborn saga that has three magic systems to the still very mysterious system being crafted in The Stormlight Archive series. In The Emperor’s Soul, he has given us another fantastic magic system that (without spoiling much) allows people to rewrite the history of objects.

    Even though it is a Novella, you grow really attached to protagonist, Shai, in the short time we spend with her. Most of that time is confined to a single room, but you would hardly notice it unless someone points out for you. You learn a lot about her past and her way of thinking as she has to sort of explain herself to one of her captors in order to further her own goals in the story.

    The fight scenes are well done – reminds me of Mistborn – fast and the magic system naturally comes into play to give the protagonist that much needed edge.

    I could go on about the book, but really in the end it is a quick but satisfying read. It is a world and magic system I really hope he chooses to explore in further books, whether they be novella or novel sized stories.

    If you like any of Brandon’s previous work, you’ll like this.

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