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The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson

The Emperor's Soul

by Brandon Sanderson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Sel (1.5), Cosmere (Novella, 8)

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Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
Holy crap that was good. ( )
  redwing605 | Jul 30, 2017 |
4.5 stars. This was so good, and really unique. It was nice to see something else set in Sel! ( )
  ReadandFindOut | Jul 14, 2017 |
Wow. Just wow. I try to review most of the books I read. Sometimes I don’t. Usually it’s because I have nothing to say. Very rarely it’s because I loved the book so much I couldn’t put my love into words. This is one of those cases, but I’ll give it my best shot.

Sanderson’s trademark of unique magic systems is on full display here, and it’s called forging. Basically it’s all about historical research. Sounds boring, I know, but just hold on. A forger can use a “soul-stamp” to change an object’s history, which changes it physically in the present. A once beautiful table that has been neglected and forgotten can have its history changed so that it was taken good care of, instantly becoming beautiful again. The more plausible the change is, the longer the stamp will “stick.” A door can be stamped to make it rotten and easy to break, but if there’s no historical precedent for it to end up like that then the stamp will only last for a moment, but that’s enough to break the door. You see? Good.

Okay, so the story. Basically it boils down to this. An exceptionally skilled forger is captured and imprisoned. She’s offered a deal to reforge the emperor, who has been rendered brain-dead by a failed assassination attempt, in exchange for her freedom. It’s something that’s never been attempted before, nobody really knows if it’s possible, and she has three months to do it. In those three months the main character learns more about the emperor than anybody, and comes to believe that he could have been a great man—a man that could change the corrupt empire for the better—if only he had made different decisions.

What follows is a story about compassion, the nature of art, and the small decisions that can totally change a person’s life. I read this novella in one sitting, and after I was done I just sat quietly on my couch…thinking about it, for a very long time. ( )
  ForeverMasterless | Apr 23, 2017 |
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. ( )
  kgodey | Apr 11, 2017 |
Deserves its Hugo award. An especially intricate magic, and even more intricate psychological study. ( )
  librisissimo | Feb 26, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brandon Sandersonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Green, SamCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nanitchkov, AlexanderCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Gaotona ran his fingers across the thick canvas, inspecting one of the greatest works of art he had ever seen. Unfortunately, it was a lie.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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When Shai is caught replacing the Moon Scepter with her nearly flawless forgery, she must bargain for her life and create--by Forgery--a new soul for the emperor in less than one hundred days.

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