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review 2018-03-01 01:17
The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson
The Emperor's Soul - Brandon Sanderson

A condemned prisoner gets offered the opportunity to reforge the emperor's soul after an almost fatal accident that left him brain dead. It's taboo magic, of course.


Overall, this novella was quite interesting, although there were a few points where I sighed at the way I was fed the background information about how the world and the magic worked.

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review 2016-12-31 18:47
[Book Review] The Emperor's Soul
The Emperor's Soul - Brandon Sanderson The Emperor's Soul / Brandon Sanderson The Emperor's Soul is a novella about a thief and a Forger, her last operation betrayed, now awaiting execution for her crimes. Then instead she is offered the challenge of a lifetime, re-Forge the Emperor's soul, re-imbuing cognizant life into the damaged vessel of the Emperor's body. A challenge beyond most Masters, even with the proper time and equipment, Shai must complete her project in an impossible amount of time and figure out how to escape before her use to those otherwise in power comes to an end. I went into reading this with no knowledge or familiarity with Sanderson's Elantris. I obtained a copy several years ago through an ebook bundle (either via Humble Bundle or StoryBundle), but never got around to reading it. I was finally prompted to read it when a friend recommended it as a book club pick, so I slotted it in as a short end of year read. I'm going to assume that were I familiar with the larger world setting there would be little details I'd notice in connection, but The Emperor's Soul stands out as its own story. Definitely worth reading, and a good pick for the often chaotic end of the year. Discussion Fodder What are the connections between soul and creation in this book? Between art and Forging? What is the role of history in the present? There are several types of practicioners, Forgers, Bloodsealers, Remembers. How do they differ, how are they similar? Is a Forger "an artist who painted with human perception"? Who does a work of art belong to? Who has the right to destroy it? Shai refuses to give a backdoor to controlling the Emperor, but changes him on her own. Did she do the right thing, regardless of the intent and outcome? Have you read anything else in the world setting by Sanderson? How does this fit in, how does it differ? If you haven't, do you think you will?
Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2016/12/book-review-emperors-soul.html
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review 2016-08-31 17:00
How Do You Forge a Soul?: The Emperor's Soul | Review
The Emperor's Soul - Brandon Sanderson,Angela Lin

This Fantasy novella is a treat for anyone who loves character based fiction.



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.


Buy Now | +Goodreads

Disclosure: GMB uses affiliate links, clicking and making a purchase may result in a small commission for me.

Source: I purchased this book myself from Audible.



The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson, read by Angela Lin, published by Recorded Books (2012) / Length: 3 hrs 55 min



This is a standalone novella. (It takes place on the same world as Elantris, which is part of Sanderson's larger Cosmere, but is unconnected.)



If you are someone who prefers books with lots of action, then this probably isn't for you. The only action is fairly brief, and doesn't come until towards the end. I, however, loved it for the way it explored both character and (non-romantic) relationships.


My question in the title has a double meaning. It stands both for Shai's profession as an art/soul forger and for forging in the sense of "making or shaping." One of the underlying themes of the story has to do with how the Emperor's soul developed the way it did the first time, and how the littlest decisions can put you on a path.


I have added the Diversity tag since, like many of Sanderson's other works, this has fantasy versions of Asian characters and cultures. (He spent two years in Korea as a young man.)



Shai: I always struggle with protagonists who are criminals. I don't believe that crime should be portrayed as fun, harmless or even just acceptable. This book doesn't really go into that; it is more about what constitutes art and the ethics of that.


The aspect of Shai I found most interesting was the way she (beyond temporarily changing her own soul magically, or even just using a typical con artists ability to play a role) would reframe her own reactions by mentally chosing to become someone who was capable of dealing with her current situation calmly.


Gaotana: I love his complexity. He just wants to do what is best, but is also judgemental.


I usually include a section on the romantic relationship in this section. There isn't one here, but relation- ships are nevertheless a central theme. Gaotana is the hub around which things turn. His relationship with Shai, and with Ashravan. There is also a subtle message about the way we see people vs the way they are.


Allthough he is the next thing to dead from before the book starts, Ashravan, remains a central character. I like that, Emperor or not, he actually loved his wife.



As usual, Sanderson builds a unique magic system with internally consistent rules and natural drawbacks. I love the discussion as to whether there is less merit to a work of art created using magic than to one created with actual paints. I'm sure this parallels arguments that digital artists deal with.


The novella takes place almost entirely within the palace, and mostly within a single room, and yet there is a feeling of a whole world behind it. And Shai's talent gives a natural opportunity to explore the objects in the room and what she can do with them.



I am not a big reader of short fiction. This novella was the perfect length for me though. The beginning sucks you in as everyone is afraid of something. It then takes its time to explore the themes, before ending with a perfect blend of action and emotion.



  • Shai & Gaotana's last moments together
  • The very end with Gaotana alone


I COULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT: a bit of fantasy language swearing (and the explanation of the word's meaning) / the concept of the blood magic *shudder*


OTHER CAUTIONSCaution: It is mentioned that a married guard is having an affair / There is some brief somewhat brutal violence



Character voices differentiated = Yes / Opposite sex voices acceptable = Yes, I especially enjoyed Gaotana's voice which really captured the essence of his character / Phrasing, Pacing & Pronunciation = Good, I think I heard 2 small mispronunciations / Emoting = Good / Speed = listened on 1.25, my usual.



The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson, read by Angela Lin, published by Recorded Books (2012) / Length: 3 hrs 55 min Buy Now | +Goodreads

Talk to Me (pretty please)

  • I don't read a lot of short fiction, what is your favorite standalone novella?
  • Does it bother you when the "hero" of a story is a criminal?


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review 2016-05-04 13:12
Love Love Love
Legion and the Emperor's Soul - Brandon Sanderson

Legion - 4 stars

What an incredible story. Who could have imagined so much fit in so few pages!! And the whole aspect was amazing. The hallucinations, hints about it meaning other things, the adventure. It was just fantastic!
Sanderson has outdone himself with this one.



The Emperors Soul - 4 stars

Another fantastic story, just as unique and incredible. I loved the main character and her ability to craft things through stamps and stories. This story was heart touching, about the ridiculous differences in society that aren't all that really different.
Highly anticipating more Brandon Sanderson in my future!! <3

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url 2015-12-16 18:09
SF Signal: "450 Science Fiction and Fantasy eBooks for $4.99 or Less!"
The Red: First Light - Linda Nagata
The Emperor's Soul - Brandon Sanderson
True Names: and the Opening of the Cyberspace Frontier - Vernor Vinge,James Frenkel,Timothy C. May,Marvin Minsky,Mark Pesce,Richard M. Stallman
AI Unbound: Two stories of artificial intelligence - Nancy Kress

Posting so that I remember to take a closer look at the ones I'm interested in later. The list is pretty similar to the last SF Signal deals list I posted, but there are enough differences for it to be worth looking over. I even noticed a couple manga volumes this time around.

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