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Publisher's Summary

When Shai is caught replacing the Moon Scepter with her nearly flawless forgery, she must bargain for her life. An assassin has left the Emperor Ashravan without consciousness, a circumstance concealed only by the death of his wife. If the emperor does not emerge after his hundred-day mourning period, the rule of the Heritage Faction will be forfeit and the empire will fall into chaos.

Shai is given an impossible task: to create—to Forge—a new soul for the emperor in less than one hundred days. But her soul-Forgery is considered an abomination by her captors. She is confined to a tiny, dirty chamber, guarded by a man who hates her, spied upon by politicians, and trapped behind a door sealed in her own blood. Shai's only possible ally is the emperor's most loyal counselor, Gaotona, who struggles to understand her true talent.

Time is running out for Shai. Forging, while deducing the motivations of her captors, she needs a perfect plan to escape...

©2012 Dragonsteel Entertainment, LLC (P)2012 Recorded Books

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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • debbie
  • corona, CA, United States
  • 11-02-12

A Great Short Novella that is Long in Story

At three hours and fifty five minutes The Emperor’s Soul is a fairly quick listen, especially since it is written by Brandon Sanderson, but has the depth usually only found in epic novels.
It is set in the world of Elantris, Brandon’s first published novel, but The Emperor’s Soul is a completely different story with a new magic system called Forgery. Shai, a Forger, can copy and re-create any item by using magic to rewrite its history. Now she must create a new soul for the emperor or be put to death.
Even though most of the action happens toward the end Sanderson’s wit and writing skills never lets the story lag and I thought the narrator, Angela Lin, gave a good performance. This story should please Sanderson fans or anyone else who enjoys this type of genre. I’m a huge Sanderson fan and thoroughly enjoyed this Audio book.

69 of 79 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Pure Genius!


Some people collect ceramic figurines or salt & pepper shakers -- I collect anything written by Brandon Sanderson.

I win.

No spoilers: I went into this one without knowing anything about it -- and I LOVED it -- so my lips are sealed.

Just know that this is a fantastic story that reads like a full length novel, despite being only 4 hours long. But you won't notice the length -- the book is so rich and detailed, and satisfying, that I found it far more entertaining and engaging than some of the 20 hour plus fantasy novels I usually seek out. It's spare and brilliant and complete, the kind of prose that wins awards. I'm very impressed.

Just goes to show that you don't need to write long tales to create an amazing world -- you just have to be Brandon Sanderson.

The reader, Angela Lin, is new to me, and she was well worthy of this book. Can't wait to hear more from her.


HIghly Recommended: This was so good that I'm now reading Warbreaker, a book I've been saving for a rainy day. It's also pure genius, and with a premise so wild I can't wait to see where it goes.


(Thank you Brandon! I really needed that!)

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

I liked it, but fantasy fans will probably love it

STORY (fantasy) - I occasionally listen to fantasies that catch my eye, but it's not one of my usual genres. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. As one reviewer put it, it's "fresh." Shai, a professional forger of art and other articles, is given the task of forging the soul of an emperor who has been mortally wounded and is in a vegetative state. She is imprisoned and given only a fraction of the time needed to attempt this never-done-before task.

It's fascinating to hear how she goes about analyzing the emperor's previous soul, then building and testing her forgery bit by bit. She also must plan her escape which - surprise - will use forgery. During her imprisonment she is threatened by interesting characters and befriends others. Loved the ending.

PERFORMANCE - Good job. There is one evil female character whose voice is purposefully nasally and unpleasant, but thankfully she doesn't speak a lot.

OVERALL - This book contains no sex or cursing and only a touch of bloody action. If you like contemporary fantasy, you will probably love this book. Men have given this book positive reviews, but I would actually recommend it more for women.

22 of 27 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A great short story, but not a sequel to Elantris

I purchased this story immediately after listening to Elantris. I don't regret it at all, but for the life of me I can't find the tiniest shred of evidence that these stories take place in the same universe, let alone the same planet. Perhaps it's set thousands of years later when the names of all the places and empires have long since changed. The book doesn't make any of this clear.

There is a common narrative theme with Elantris, though. Both have a main character capable of genuine magic who is antagonized and labeled a heretic by an oppressive, religious empire.

The magic system here is creative and interesting, being based on the notion of all objects having souls. Properties of anything can be rewritten, limited only by plausibility. It's a fitting metaphor for the process of writing and editing a story as an author. Even a fantasy story must remain plausible after the initial deviations from reality have been explained to the reader, otherwise it will fall apart.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A fantastic standalone

I never trusted the 'novela....' Always seemed like a way to eek out money from fans of a writer, without supplying a fully realized story. Something always sounded like it had to be missing.

Sanderson has changed my mind completely. I've been a huge fan of his work for years now, and chased through his various writings with abandon. I've seen his successes, and had to put down at least one of his less stellar works. I also tend to read series, excessively long series, such as Wheel of Time. I like character development, and completeness. I like the plot to move, and to see what came before, and after, and the motivations behind action. And all of that, can be found in this book. It was an amazing 3ish hours.

Don't connect this with any of his other works. Just start up, knowing it's going to be short, and love the ride.

38 of 48 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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YOU KNOW YOUR HORSEFLESH

WALLS CAN'T THINK, BUT THAT DOESN'T KEEP THEM FROM CARING.
Four hours was the perfect length for this novella and for Sanderson's genius. If you have not read Sanderson before (and I don't know what rock you have been living under) then this is a great place to start. Sanderson has practically rewritten the fantasy genre. He has set new, higher standards. Fantasy is no longer just Dragons and Sorcerers, it is stories with depth and characters.

AS GOOD AS YOU ARE, SOMEONE ELSE COULD BE BETTER
Sanderson has not yet replaced Robin Hobb as my favorite fantasy writer, but he is getting close. He can write the long stuff, (The Way of Kings) and he can write the short stuff, like this. What is most amazing, is his abilities to come up with different magic and make them as interesting as the last totally different magic he wrote about. The Way of Kings, Elantris, The Rithmatist, The Emperor's Soul and Mistborn are all different, but great. He is not stuck in one universe. I will have to mention that I was not a fan of Steelheart or Warbreaker, but they were not terrible either.

BOREDOM MADE PEOPLE EASY TO MANIPULATE
Did I mention that this guy is a genius?

66 of 84 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Janice
  • Sugar Land, TX, United States
  • 01-29-18

Prisoner of Zenda with it's own twist

The bare bones of this story are those of The Prisoner of Zenda – King (Emperor in this case) incapacitated by opposing faction, concealed by supporting faction, and in need of a plan to prevent exposing the Emperor’s inability to serve. From there Sanderson blazes his own trail. No mere fake double will do – a complete reconstruction of the real Emperor must be accomplished through forgery by illegal means.

The realization of this plan is a complex fantasy, somewhat short on world building in the physical sense, but long on creation of the magical world of forgers who understand and manipulate the reality of anything from a table or wall to the personality and character of an Emperor. This must be done by the prisoner Shai within 100 days or the kingdom as it stands will fall apart and she will be executed. She also realizes that to protect the secret, she is likely to be executed anyway once her services are no longer needed. Her progress is supervised by an arch enemy, Gaotona, who surprisingly is openly curious about Shai’s magic and what makes her tick.

The fascination comes from the magical realism of forgery and also the exploration of what goes into developing a person’s personality, character and responses. By extension, the characters of Shai and Gaotona are explored and changed by each other. For me this was the most interesting part of the story, and kept me moving forward to the climactic action of the end where Shai decides her own fate. A very satisfying and complete story that also hints that there may be openings for a sequel.

Sadly, I did not really like the narration, finding it oddly mechanical and lacking true connection to the characters. Still, did not reduce my enjoyment of Sanderson’s world. Can recommend, but listen to the sample first.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ellenaeddy
  • Chesterton, IN, United States
  • 03-10-14

Lovely and unexpected

I loved this book for several reasons. It looks into an artist's soul in a way that is illuminating. It looks into who we could have been if we were someone else. And it's a look at court life that is probably quite accurate if distasteful. It made me wish the world worked the way that the writer described.

13 of 17 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Tiffany
  • Williston, VT, United States
  • 04-01-13

Another excellent novella!

I really enjoyed this book. The environment was completely new to me, yet well explained in the limited time. I felt I was there observing the main character, Shai, as she worked towards her salvation. Her motivations were well-described and although she's not technically a "good guy", I wanted her to succeed anyway. Excellent read and strongly recommend it if you're a fan of fantasy fiction.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Really enjoyed this!

I found this to be one of the most enjoyable short stories I have encountered in recent years. A beautiful, thoughtful piece, and excellently performed. I originally chose it because of its connections to Brandon Sanderson's Cosmere books, and specifically to Elantris, which takes place on the same world. However, there seemed to be very little connection to either in the story itself: the story is essentially self-contained. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed it , and I recommend it highly.

10 of 14 people found this review helpful