New York Times best-selling author Brandon Sanderson is widely celebrated for his Mistborn Trilogy and contribution to the final three books of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. In The Emperor's Soul, a Forger named Shai can copy and re-create any item by using magic to rewrite its history. After being condemned to death for attempting to steal the emperor's scepter, Shai is given one final chance. She' ll be allowed to live if she can create a new soul for the emperor, who hovers near death.
©2012 Dragonsteel Entertainment, LLC (P)2012 Recorded Books
Epic fantasy junkie but I love a good mystery.
I absolutely loved this story. The narration wasn't my favorite but it didn't take much from the story. I would love to here more about these characters.
Instead, it's another masterpiece from Sanderson. As always, expect cool magic, interesting characters, and an undercurrent of thoughtful moral questions typical of his later works.
This Fantasy novella is a treat for anyone who loves character based fiction.
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.
HIGHLIGHTS / CAUTIONS:
--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 CAUTIONS(?): 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.
This story was so well written. So imaginatively brilliant. Both the writer and the narrator are awesome story tellers. Angela Lin brought the story to life. This one is a keeper, one to re-read and listen to again.
one of the best stories in the cosemere sorry section. I still wish it would get is own full book, but Brandon hasn't learned how to split himself into 6 people to do everything his fans want him to do. not yet anyway.
I love all Brandon's books, but this one is such a sweet pearl. I've listened to it about ten times over the last couple years, and I'll probably listen to it that many again over the next few.
excellent story, we'll thought out magic system, strong characters, bit shorter than I would light but it made for a very pleasant read. one of Brandon's better books
My favorite Sanderson, a tiny treasure that burrowed into my own soul and has remained part of me for years. The narrator is wonderful. She's the very best I've yet heard, and I love that she's making a way for talented women in the field.
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