Book Review: The Emperor’s Soul

Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Test

emperorTitle: The Emperor’s Soul
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publication Date: October 11, 2012
Pages: 175
Publisher: Tachyon Publications
Date Started: November 1, 2018
Date Finished: November 2, 2018
Format: Paperback


The first weekend in November is complete, and I am happy to report that I finished a book for the N.E.W.T.s read-a-thon! For this read-a-thon I’m trying to focus on books that are generally shorter than the tomes that I enjoy picking up, but books that are also by some of my favorite authors, so that every book this month will be a treat. The Emperor’s Soul is a shorter book by none other than Brandon Sanderson, who easily sits in my top three favorite authors. I chose this book to count as my “Acceptable” in Charms (a book that has magic in it).

One of the reasons I love Sanderson’s work so much is his ability to build worlds and magic systems that are unlike anything I have ever encountered before. While this novella technically takes place in the same world as Elantris (which is still on my TBR), it is a stand-alone work that can be enjoyed with or without any of the other books in the series. This one revolves around a prisoner, Shai, who has the power to Forge. By knowing the history of an object, she is able to rewrite its past to change its appearance in the present. These Forgeries are created by stamping an object’s soul.

Due to an unfortunate betrayal, Shai is to be executed. That is, unless she is able to Forge a perfect replica of the Emperor’s soul. The Emperor was the target of an assassination attempt, and while his body survived, his mind did not. In order for the current faction to stay in power, everyone must believe that the Emperor is still alive. But forging a soul is no easy task, and Shai only has three months, or she will be executed anyway.

This book presents a marvelous character study (haha, pun slightly intended) and Sanderson is able to write characters like nobody’s business. While Shai is a criminal, we are able to really gleam why her motivations, passions, and fears drive her to any specific action or thought. She is overseen by a magistrate named Gaotona, who is loyal to the Emperor, though with his own agenda and distrustful of Forgeries. Finally, there is the Emperor himself, who we glimpse through the research of Shai. I couldn’t believe the depth that was obtainable in these 170-odd pages. This book was extremely satisfying, a quick read, and intriguing the entire way through.

Overall, 4/5 moose


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