The Emporer's Soul
Shai is a "Forger," a re-creator of objects by strategically changing their history. Caught using her skills for criminal means, Shai is to be executed unless she can perfectly accomplish an impossible task: forge a new soul for the brain-dead emperor.
This book is very clean. No distasteful imagery or themes, and if there was any swearing, it was so scarce I don’t remember it. Brandon Sanderson makes a point of keeping his works relatively safe for readers.
The Book in a Nutshell (No Spoilers):
Brandon Sanderson feeds us another plateful of his imagination in the form of The Emperor’s Soul, a Hugo-award-winning novella. In it, our heroine, Shai, is apprehended for trying to replace a treasured artifact with one of her “Forgeries,” or items modified by the rewriting of their history and origins. All the while, the emperor has been rendered brain-dead by a recent assassination attempt. With no heir or claim to the throne, his advisers and the powers-that-be present Shai with a choice: face execution, or desperately try to piece together a new soul for the emperor before anybody notices his absence. Obviously, Shai takes up the offer, starting her on the daunting task of learning and recreating decades of memories and personality, all the while on a time-limit and trying to navigate her way through the judgment and agendas of her captors.
Being that this is a novella, there isn’t much fluff to be found. Every page is lean and crisp, driving you forward into the next part of the story. Many stories of this length suffer from an excess of good plot, sucking life out of the character developments, but that’s not the case here. Sanderson has established a good balance between his characters and setting, providing rich personalities and a rich magic system to work with. In the midst of Shai’s reckoning, we are also given clashing views and insights on the truth and maturity of art in its many forms, which, in hand, lends itself to a brave level of wisdom–a wisdom not often seen or heard in other stories. Not because it is some sort of vexing or socially compromising wisdom, but simply because the unique way of thinking that each of these characters is forced to undertake isn’t something easily designed to talk about with prose.
In short, The Emperor’s Soul is a delightful read. If you’d like something a little different, the audiobook is quite good, too. Just prepare yourself to listen, or you’ll miss out on something that you may potentially love. Keep up the good work, Sanderson.
God bless, paint a picture, and always remember to smile.
VERSE OF THE DAY:
Isaiah 64:8 – “Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”
SONG OF THE DAY:
“Praise You In This Storm” – Casting Crowns https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5bLvVjJ4MA
(A song of transparent worship, unafraid to take a darker tone for the purpose of remembering that we are not the only ones fighting our battles.)
+ Clean and reader friendly
+ Short and concise
+ Unique view on artistic expression
- Setting takes place almost entirely in one room.
- Small cast of characters (might double as a positive)