Brandon Sanderson – The Emperor’s Soul
131. The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson (2012)
Length: 192 pages
Started/Finished: 22 November 2012
Where did it come from? From the awesome folks at Tachyon Press for review.
Why do I have it? Sanderson’s one of my favorite authors.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 24 September 2012.
Forging a painting’s
hard, but faking a person’s
soul is *much* harder.
Summary: Shai is an exquisitely talented forger, imprisioned for attempting to replace the imperial scepter with a forgery. Rather than the usual punishment of execution, however, she is offered a deal. A failed assassination attempt has left the emperor alive, but essentially brain-dead. The ministers of the empire have been able to keep this secret thus far, but are now requiring that Shai create a forgery of the emperor’s soul. A forgery that complex would typically take years to prepare, if it can be done at all, but Shai has only 100 days. And if she fails, not only her life, but also the entire kingdom may be forfeit.
Review: Well, Legion suggested it, but The Emperor’s Soul confirmed it: Brandon Sanderson can do fantasy just as well in 150 pages as he can in 1000 pages. This little novella really highlight’s Sanderson’s skill at worldbuilding, especially in terms of creating a magical system that’s logical and internally consistent but still incredibly inventive. In this case, the world’s not particularly broad – we barely get to see outside the imperial residence, but the real focus is on the construction and use of the soulstamps. Technically, The Emperor’s Soul is set in the same world as Elantris, but it’s been many years since I’ve read Elantris, and while I can see the similarities – magic through symbols/drawings – it’s perfectly understandable on its own. Sanderson keeps the story moving along pretty quickly, adding in plenty of scheming and escape plans and interesting character development as he goes. It’s a short book, and fast reading (I read it in less than two hours, on Thanksgiving morning), but it’s the perfect length to fit the story it has to tell. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Recommended to Sanderson fans, for sure, but this would also be a fine (and quick) introduction to his work and his worldbuilding for a fantasy reader who hasn’t read Sanderson yet. (Although, if you’re a fantasy reader who hasn’t read Sanderson yet, get on that! You’re missing out.)
First Line: 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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