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The Emperor's Soul (Hugo Award Winner - Best Novella) Paperback – October 10, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 921 customer reviews
Book 2 of 2 in the Elantris Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Sanderson proves to be an exceptionally talented writer in the pages of this book.... The Emperor's Soul is one of those rare high fantasies that feels fresh and is filled with a sense of wonder."
—Charles de Lint, Fantasy & Science Fiction

“The forgery was a masterpiece, an almost perfect replica of a priceless work of art. The minor inconsistencies were all but impossible for even an expert to detect. However, Shai had been betrayed. Now awaiting execution, Shai would be reprieved if she could do the impossible. As a Forger, Shai is a skillful artist who can apply complex magical glyphs to rewrite the history of the item to change it completely. Although Forgers are despised, the Empire needs Shai to accomplish the unthinkable: to Forge a new soul for the Emperor. Verdict: Sanderson, the best-selling author of the Mistborn Trilogy and The Way of Kings, has set this novella in the same world as Elantris, one of his earlier novels, but it is totally independent. Fantasy fans will love both the compelling story and the creative magical setting.”
Library Journal

“Sanderson proves to be an exceptionally talented writer in the pages of this book.... The Emperor’s Soul is one of those rare high fantasies that feels fresh and is filled with a sense of wonder.”
—Charles de Lint, Fantasy & Science Fiction

The Emperor’s Soul is a worthy addition to Sanderson’s bibliography: a new magic system with some interesting implications, a couple of fascinating characters, a focused plot, and a subtle link to the much larger picture he’s been painting for years.”
Tor.com

“With a fascinating study of clashing beliefs, another inventive magic system, and highly entertaining action sequence, The Emperor’s Soul is the book I would recommend to anyone who wants to find out for the first time what Sanderson is all about.”
Fantasy Book Review

“This story had such a wonderful balance with the world, characters, and magic building, that I truly hope the author will explore it more....”
Open Book Society, five-star review

The Emperor’s Soul is fast-paced, clever, and fun....”
Fantasy Book Critic

“This is a fantastic novella set in the Elantris world. Despite it’s short length this story was complex, intriguing, and just absolutely magical and engaging.”
Hidden in Pages

“An excellent fast read, highly recommended for readers looking for unique story worlds and magic systems. It won the 2013 Hugo Award for a Novella, and that really says it all.”
Flight of the Dragon

“It truly is a work of art.”
Pendemon

About the Author

Brandon Sanderson is the New York Times best-selling author of Elantris and the Mistborn Trilogy. In 2007, he was chosen by Robert Jordan’s widow to complete Jordan’s epic Wheel of Time series. The final volume was published in three novels: The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight, and A Memory of Light. Sanderson received his Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Brigham Young University (where he was a college roommate of Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings). He participates in the weekly podcast Writing Excuses.
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Product Details

  • Series: Hugo Award Winner - Best Novella
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Tachyon Publications; 3rd edition (October 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616960922
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616960926
  • Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.6 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (921 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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!
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Format: Kindle Edition
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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Format: Paperback
As much as I've enjoyed the Mistborn saga, The Way of Kings, and his work on the final Wheel of Time novels, Elantris is one of the few works by Brandon Sanderson that I have yet to read (along with Warbreaker).

Fortunately, while The Emperor's Soul is set in the same world as Elantris, it is a completely separate story, and doesn't require any advance knowledge of the world Sanderson has created.

Clocking in at under 200 pages, this lacks the intense world-building of his other work, but still manages to cram in a significant amount of detail regarding his magic system. A bit more philosophical in nature, the magic of forging, involving the use of soulstamps and essence marks, is absolutely fascinating to explore. Sanderson does a masterful job of taking something simple, yet impossible, and making it a wondrously imaginative act of creation. Here, the system of magic is revealed not through narrative exposition, but through conversations between Shai, the Forger, and Gaotona, her captor. It means a slow unveiling of what she does and how she does it, but the means of that unveiling is an integral part of the tale.

Shai herself is an interesting character, more admirable than heroic. She is a character with whom we can sympathise, but one who does not prey on our sympathies. Less a victim than an opportunistic captive, she forges the means of her escape long before the end, but cannot bring herself to flee without satisfying her curiosity as to whether her greatest forgery will work. After all, it's one thing to forge great pieces of art, or to temporarily alter one's self . . . it's another thing entirely to forge a complete stranger's soul.
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