Publication Date: October 2012
Number of Pages: 175
Series Notes: One Shot
Reason for Discovery: Friend's Recommendation
From GoodReads' The Emperor's Soul site:
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.
The Emperor's Soul has a ton of elements I like in a good story: female protagonist, crime/thieving (I love a good mystery, whether it is told from the investigator's point of view or the criminal's), and believable, quiet magic. In this world, the main character Shai is able to make changes to the soul of objects (and people) to reshape them. For example, she can make an old, battered table into a beautiful and cared-for table. Because The Emperor's Soul is a novella, you are left with more questions than answers about Shai's art. Normally this would be frustrating for me; however, I think knowing too much could break the magic. As I write this review, my thoughts return to the Myst books by Rand Miller. In those stories, the characters can create livable and fantastical worlds simply by describing them in empty journals.
I wish Brandon Sanderson had written more about Shai. I would have liked to know what had happened to her after this story ended. This story could have easily been extending into a second book or just a longer book (instead of a novella).
4 out of 5 pens