The Emperor’s Soul – Brandon Sanderson
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’ve noticed time and again that I’ve still so many good authors to read. Before this novella I’d never even read anything by Brandon Sanderson, though his Mistborn books have been standing on my shelf for over a year, begging me to be read. There’s just so much to read! But finally I managed to read something by him and I have to say that all my expectations were met. I’ve heard from a lot of people that Brandon Sanderson is an extremely talented writer and based on this novella I have to join them in saying that he is very, very good.
‘The Emperor’s Soul’ tells the story of Shai, a Forger who has been caught stealing an important artefact from the palace of the Emperor. Shai is special, she is really talented in telling the history and the soul behind things and people alike. With this she can create stamps that can change the objects or persons history, making it into something it could have been or making an exact copy of it. But this art is frowned upon in the Empire and Forgers are captured and sentenced to death. Except Shai is extremely good in what she does and the Palace has a little problem no one else can solve for them…
I was really fascinated by the magic system Sanderson created here. Crafting stamps that are linked to the soul and history of things or people, changing their history and how they perceive themselves to make them into something that could have been or making an exact copy of for example, a painting, with them. Brilliant! Sanderson also explained this craft beautifully through his character Shai and her experiences. Bit by bit we get to know why she likes making her stamps so much and while she demonstrates all that is possible with them the reader starts to admire her talent more and more.
I loved the way Sanderson made his characters come to life on the pages. The feisty but deep inside still vulnerable Shai and the wise and curious Gaotona were my two favourites. I especially liked the interaction between these two and seeing their mutual understanding and appreciation grow with every day Shai spends in captivity. Their dialogue was really fun to read, hearing the two sides and how they perceive each other’s life, culture and actions.
The ending wasn’t what I had expected. It was explosive and full of action, a surprise after the steady but calm pace of the rest of the novella. But it worked out great, it was actually the perfect ending to this story, tying every loose end. The relationship between the characters that was slowly blossoming throughout the story came to a satisfying end, the ending I’d hoped for them.
‘The Emperor’s Soul’ is a captivating story that I read in a few hours. The perfect story for in between the heavy tomes, a fast read and a fascinating read. I’m on the Brandon Sanderson bandwagon now and I can’t wait to read his other novels .