The Emperor’s Soul – Brandon Sanderson


5 star

Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Tachyon Publications

A heretic thief is the empire’s only hope in this fascinating tale that inhabits the same world as the popular novel, Elantris.

Shai is a Forger, a foreigner who can flawlessly copy and re-create any item by rewriting its history with skillful magic. Condemned to death after trying to steal the emperor’s scepter, she is given one opportunity to save herself. Though her skill as a Forger is considered an abomination by her captors, Shai will attempt to create a new soul for the emperor, who is almost dead. 

Probing deeply into his life, she discovers Emperor Ashravan’s truest nature—and the opportunity to exploit it. Her only possible ally is one who is truly loyal to the emperor, but councilor Gaotona must overcome his prejudices to understand that Shai’s forgery is as much artistry as it is deception. 

Brimming with magic and political intrigue, this deftly woven fantasy delves into the essence of a living spirit.

I’ll continue to say it until I’m blue in the face: Brandon Sanderson is a genius.
The Emperor’s Soul is a beautifully crafted story in only 175 pages. It features an intelligent kickass main character, Shai, as she’s forced to fight for her life in the best way she knows how. Shai is a Forger. Forgers are able to flawlessly recreate any item with a specific magic that requires skillful precision.

In only 175 pages, Sanderson created a plausible world as the backdrop for this specific character and magic system. A story like this could work on its own with little to no world building because the magic system is so intricate and well conceived, however it wouldn’t have the impact that it has. Shai is a character I want to see more of because she’s intelligent, resourceful, sassy, and conniving. There is a history to this character that is only hinted at, but makes me desperate to know more. Sanderson’s skill in creating such an imaginative world with well-constructed characters in so little pages is second to none. This is a story I will be recommending to everyone. It stands on its own as a story as well as from a world building perspective in the Cosmere, however for those who have read Elantris you will be able to clearly understand how The Emperor’s Soul fits in with the magic system of that world.

What I enjoyed most about this novella is Sanderson’s ability to keep the reader guessing. At many points throughout the story I thought I had Shai and the story figured out. I would have put money down on where I thought the story was headed, but, as Kelsier always says, there’s always another secret.

Just go read this 175-page masterpiece. You won’t be disappointed.

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