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The Emperor's Soul (Elantris)

4.31  ·  Rating Details  ·  29,846 Ratings  ·  2,400 Reviews
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 skil
Paperback, 175 pages
Published October 11th 2012 by Tachyon Publications
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Eon ♒Windrunner♒ & part-time Warder ☯ All the books you mention have stories that take place on different planets, but are part of the same universe - The Cosmere. Elantris and the…moreAll the books you mention have stories that take place on different planets, but are part of the same universe - The Cosmere. Elantris and the Emperor's Soul are set on the same planet though.

Way of Kings, Elantris, Emperor's Soul are all part of the Cosmere and are thus connected. From what I remember, the planet way WOK takes place on (Roshar) is a very different place to the one Elantris & TES takes place on (Sel)

Why does the connection between WOK & TES feel stronger to you ?
Squeak No you do not need to read Elantris first. The Emperor's Soul can be read as a stand alone. You actually wouldn't even realize they were connected at…moreNo you do not need to read Elantris first. The Emperor's Soul can be read as a stand alone. You actually wouldn't even realize they were connected at all but for the mention of one or two names.(less)
The Way of Kings by Brandon SandersonMistborn by Brandon SandersonWords of Radiance by Brandon SandersonThe Hero of Ages by Brandon SandersonThe Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson
Best Brandon Sanderson Books
11th out of 35 books — 423 voters
Mistborn by Brandon SandersonThe Name of the Wind by Patrick RothfussHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingThe Way of Kings by Brandon SandersonThe Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Most Interesting Magic System
104th out of 1,676 books — 6,307 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Eric Allen
Sep 27, 2013 Eric Allen rated it it was amazing
The Emperor's Soul
By Brandon Sanderson

A Review by Eric Allen

Due to his work on The Wheel of Time, Brandon Sanderson has not had much time over the last few years for working on his own books. As such, he has elected to write several novellas as sequels to his already published works to tide his fans over until he is freed up from his obligations to the Wheel of Time, and can put his focus entirely back into his own works. The Emperor's Soul is one of these books. Though not actually a sequel, it
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Mar 30, 2015 Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, library-has
Wow--this was a marvelous short novel. I absolutely loved it. Wan ShaiLu, a magical forger, is captured and put under sentence of death for her crimes. But Shai is given an opportunity to escape her sentence: she is charged with magically forging a new soul for the kingdom's assassinated emperor, whose body had been repaired but whose mind was destroyed by the attack. Shai is given only a hundred days to accomplish this near-impossible task. And there are those waiting to kill her if she makes a ...more
May 24, 2014 Armina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Armina by: Gavin


“I wish that I could know you. Not your soul, but you. I’ve read about you; I’ve seen into your heart. I’ve rebuilt your soul, as best I could. But that isn’t the same. It isn’t knowing someone, is it? That’s knowing about someone.”

Yet Shai completed her task perfectly! This story is mostly about two persons. Shai - a Forger, a con artist - caught replacing an important empire relic with her nearly flawless forgery, now she must bargain for her life. And Gaotona - an elderly politicia
Sep 30, 2015 Phrynne rated it it was amazing
This is Brandon Sanderson at his best even though as a novella it is much, much too short! Within only 175 pages he manages to build a new world with previously unexplored magic and introduces characters we can care about. His major skill is that he never stops to explain anything. No info dumps from this author! Nevertheless he manages to explain and inform as the story progresses so that the reader is always able to be part of the action. I loved every short minute of it. Did I mention it shou ...more
Jan 09, 2016 Kelly rated it it was amazing
You know I'm going to Love this because it's from Sanderson right? Right!!!

Nothing but

~Going to read Legion Now~
May 09, 2015 Leah rated it it was amazing
With less than 200 pages, THE EMPEROR'S SOUL was able to tell a fully developed and highly interesting story. Brandon Sanderson is clearly a freaking master of fantastic fantasy, and while I’m pretty new to his writing, I’ve been extremely impressed by his stories so far.

Shai is the main character, and as the blurb says, she’s a Forger. Forger’s in this society aren’t regarded very highly, but when the Empire needs her, Shai is given the incredible task of saving the Emperor by using her skills
Oct 31, 2015 Carolyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, novella
The Emperor's soul is a wonderful short novel, complete in itself. Shai is a master forger who has been caught trying to steal a priceless artefact in the emperor's palace. Expecting to be put to death she is instead made an offer she can't turn down in exchange for her life. She is given 100 days to construct a new soul for the emperor who is comatose following brain injury sustained in an attack on his life. She has only 100 days to do something that has never been done before if she wishes a ...more
Jun 01, 2015 Rob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, read-2015, own
Executive Summary: I'd say a "surprisingly" good novella, but this is Brandon Sanderson we're talking about, and there is very little he's written that I haven't enjoyed. Plus there is the whole Hugo Award thing..

Full Review
I'm not really a fan of Novellas and short stories. It seems like the world building and character depth is always lacking. Often times things seem to end just as they are getting good. Plus, they always feel overpriced for me.

Given the accolades for this (not to mention r
Robin (Bridge Four)
Buddy read with fellow Sandersonitis afflicted friends Athena & Alexa, and newly wrangled in buddy reader Katie

4.5 Soulful Stars

Just a reminder that Brandon Sanderson is probably my favorite fantasy writer I’ve read 9 full length books by him and 2 novellas, he consistently never disappoints so I might be a little biased, but deservedly so. His worlds, his imagination, his magic systems, his surprise twists always amaze me. The Emperors Soul was no different, it is a complete story with anot
Aug 06, 2014 Alexa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: awesome, fantasy
Buddy read with my two partners in crime: Robin and Athena; and introducing Katie our new addition to the Sanderson marathon!

Before I start this review let me tell you something: this is my favorite Sanderson book. And considering how good his other books are, that's a freaking huge statement right there.

It's almost impossible for me to explain all the things I love about this book without ranting, so I'll do a short version first:

This is shorter tha
Eon ♒Windrunner♒ & part-time Warder ☯

Just realized I never wrote a review on this one, but I am not going to either as my friend Alexa's thoughts on this one mirror my own perfectly. Check it out here

Addition as posted on Brandon's website.

The Emperor’s Soul Deleted Prologue: Imperial Fool

Note: It’s best if you have read The Emperor’s Soul before you read this deleted prologue.

Shai pressed her fingernail into one of the stone blocks of her prison cell. The stone gave way slightly. She rubbed the dust between her fingers, frowning.
J.L.   Sutton
Dec 13, 2015 J.L. Sutton rated it really liked it
Short but wonderfully crafted and satisfying novella. Very much liked the main character, Shai. More later!
Jan 06, 2016 Amar rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
Dvoumio sam se između trojke i četvorke . Ipak , ima par stvari koji mi se nisu dopale , pa joj dajem trojku .

Šta imamo ovdje ? (Kao i uvijek ) Odličan i zanimljiv magijski sistem , pa i zanimljivu priču o krivotvoriteljki (hmm... ) Shai , koja je dobila zadatak da napravi novu dušu za cara , koji je na samrti , da bi sama spasila svoj život .

Ali , nije mi se dopala ta nadmoć od Shai u čitanju drugih osoba i to što je uspjela predvidit svaku sljedeću situaciju , te mi se nije dopao previše sreta
Apr 18, 2015 Krbo rated it it was amazing
Izvrsna novela, Sanderson na maksimumu.

Dvoumio se oko 4 i 5, vuklo mi na četvorku jer je kratko - no to nije pošteno s moje strane - namjera i je bila takva zato petica. (da ima 540 stranica vjerovatno bih grintao kako ima 100 viška :) )

Neko vrijeme razmišljam bi li se usudio ovdje uporabljeni termin Forger prevesti kao "krivotvoritelj" hm?

A dopao mi se i Orwellovo "Who controls the past controls the future" (vidjet ćete kako kada pročitate)

svakako preporuka

Dopao mi se i Sandersonov pogovor nove
I've been saving this treat for a time when I really needed a quick shot of Sanderson goodness, and he delivered once again!

It's amazing how satisfying this novella is. Easily as satisfying as a full-length novel, but a tasty snack instead of a three course meal. It takes place mostly in one room, but everything is so fleshed out. The magic system is yet again intriguing, fully developed, and fun. The characters have depth, and the world is surprisingly clear in such a short time. And the story
"The Emperor's Soul" is a really marvelous fantasy story, a study of three splendid characters amid a life-and-death debate about the nature of "art".

Shai is a Forger, a con artist who uses complex magical transformations to duplicate other works, anything from clothing to paintings to statues. She uses this talent for deception as a thief and con artist. Gaotona is an elderly politician who finds Shai's work simultaneously a heretical abomination, a crime, and a waste of what he sees as true or
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
I got this as a late Christmas present today and read the whole thing in one go (it's only like 160 pages). Before this, the only Brandon Sanderson book I'd tried was Steelheart, which I wasn't too enthusiastic about––but I've been told by numerous people that the Mistborn series is much better, and after reading this book I might give that series a shot.

I really enjoyed The Emperor's Soul. The concept is fresh and interesting––it takes place in a fantasy world where people can "forge" souls, an
Nov 18, 2012 Liviu rated it really liked it
Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson was a quick read at a BN - it was ok and with some interesting stuff but not worth the 15$ cover price in any shape or form unless you are a true fan.

The usual obsession of the author with minutiae of invented magical systems takes most of the novella's space leaving stock indistinct characters no real time to shine, while the action as is is also predictable.

Still no one today does magical systems as Brandon Sanderson and sometimes it is fascinating to read
Mar 25, 2016 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, uno2016
I loved this so much more than Calamity - it was a pleasure to read. The magic system combined with artistry is really fun to think about.
TS Chan
Upgraded to 5-stars upon re-read. Initial read probably suffered from my post-Words of Radiance hangover.

Little wonder why this novella won the Hugo Award, so beautifully written and delivered, this story speaks to your soul - pun entirely intended.

Sanderson created yet again another imaginative magic system, Forgery, which is in short, imitation of the highest degree that requires a rewriting of history of the target. And what could be more complicated and masterful than that of the forgery o
Jul 26, 2014 Katie.g rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Buddy read with fellow Sanderson fans Robin, Athena and Alexa.

This is easily one of the best novellas I have read in a long time. Despite its length I actually felt as though I was reading a full length novel. In so few pages I felt as though I really came to know Shai and Gaotona. There was also surprising depth to the magic system, which as usual intrigued me very much. The gist of it is that certain people, Forgers, can create near perfect copies of an object through rewriting its history.

Dec 09, 2015 Mimi rated it really liked it
Brandon Sanderson continues to amaze with his characterization . I find that he's much better at it than many of his peers, and he does it so seamlessly that you don't notice the pieces of the puzzle coming together until they start falling into place. I still find myself surprised that he can tell a story of such depth in so few pages.

This is a story of a forger who has been hired--coerced--to "fix" an injured emperor and, to an extent, (view spoiler)
Feb 18, 2016 Filipa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I must confess that I feel kind of shocked right now.
Shocked because I'm not close to understand how one simply writes such a complex, complete and amazing story in 130 pages.
I haven't seen any author like Brandon Sanderson ever before, he takes writing and world building to a whole new level.
I cannot recommend his works enough. He's a genius, an outstanding intelligent mind-blowing storyteller.
This was beautiful.
Dec 20, 2014 C.W. rated it it was amazing
4.5. This is my first Brandon Sanderson novella and, for me, this story and this idea work really well as a novella. I do kind of wish this had a bit more detail to it - maybe a better understanding of the connection Shai feels to the emperor as she's piecing together his soul/personality, or some more detail about Shai's life - but overall I think he did a good job keeping it to what we needed to know, while still managing to give some depth to some of the characters. The magic system Forgery i ...more
May 11, 2015 Chant rated it really liked it
Surprisingly tight, compelling, and some of his best work yet! Works as a standalone, in fact if I were to introduce a new reader to Sanderson, this is the one I would recommend.
It's not secret that I believe Brandon Sanderson is a God among fantasy literature writers. Every time I finish one of his novels I think "to live inside his brain for like 5 minutes...just to see how he comes up with these things..." His magic systems are always unique and complex, his characters are well layered and interesting and the worlds he creates are always detailed and rich. So it should be no surprise to you that all of those things are present here in the Emperor's Soul.

The one thin
Paulo "paper books always" Carvalho
What a terrific book. After a day of reading it I am still thinking about it. This book remembered me why do I keep reading and the thrill it gives me. A deep philosophical book with an depth descriptions of two characters and an interesting and unique magical system.

For what I could understand this book is set on the same world as Elantris but which doesn't need any previous notion.

The poscript of this novel Sanderson talks about how he conceived the magical system and it gave me something mor

I'd love to rate this higher. On a pure technical level this may be the best thing Brandon Sanderson has written, which makes me question whether the shorter format forces him to better express himself. However, on an emotional level I didn't sense the potency of this work as I did with longer works. I felt that I needed a little longer to get into the characters and really appreciate them. With only 175 pages it was over before I knew who the main protagonist was and why I should care. You see,
Mar 24, 2015 Giovanna rated it really liked it

“A person was like a dense forest thicket, overgrown with a twisting mess of vines, weeds, shrubs, saplings, and flowers. No person was one single emotion; no person had only one desire. They had many, and usually those desires conflicted with one another like two rosebushes fighting for the same patch of ground.”

One word: MINDBLOWN.

After a couple of disappointing reads The emperor's soul is exactly what I needed. If you're a fan of Brandon Sanderson you can't miss this one. It has a cool, am
Oct 19, 2012 Laurel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
I think this may be my most favourite of Sanderson's books. It is a conversation between two people, the exploration of three souls, and one of the most reverential works I've ever read for the terrific beauty humans can create. It's a quiet but stunning read!
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Year of Cosmere : Day 97, Day 98, Epilogue: Day 101 13 50 May 30, 2015 11:11AM  
Year of Cosmere : Day 59, Day 70, Day 76, Day 85 2 25 May 30, 2015 09:23AM  
Year of Cosmere : Day 17, Day 30, Day 42, Day 58 2 23 May 30, 2015 07:28AM  
Year of Cosmere : Prologue, Day 2, Day 3, Day 5, Day 12 14 49 May 29, 2015 01:37PM  
Sci-fi and Heroic...: The Emperor's Soul 11 119 Sep 09, 2013 09:23PM  
  • The Girl of Hrusch Avenue (Powder Mage, #0.5)
  • The Camelot Papers
  • Percepliquis (The Riyria Revelations, part #6)
  • The King's Blood (The Dagger and the Coin, #2)
  • The Providence of Fire (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, #2)
  • Fade to White (Clarkesworld, Issue 71, August 2012)
  • Spirit Walker (Serpent Catch, #1)
  • The Blinding Knife (Lightbringer, #2)
  • On a Red Station, Drifting
  • The Shadowed Sun (Dreamblood, #2)
  • Glamour in Glass (Glamourist Histories, #2)
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Brandon’s major books for the beginning of 2016 are The Bands of Mourning , the sixth Mistborn novel, and Calamity , the finale of the Reckoners trilogy.

He also released his longest novella yet, Mistborn: Secret History , which explores behind the scenes of the original Mistborn Trilogy and thus is filled with spoilers for those three books; it also has some spoilers for The Bands of Mourning.

More about Brandon Sanderson...

Other Books in the Series

Elantris (3 books)
  • Elantris (Elantris, #1)
  • Untitled (Elantris, #2)
  • Untitled (Elantris, #3)

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“There was rarely an obvious branching point in a person's life. People changed slowly, over time. You didn't take on step, then find yourself in a completely new location. You first took a little step off a path to avoid some rocks. For a while, you walked alongside the path, but then you wandered out a little way to step on softer soil. Then you stopped paying attention as you drifted farther and farther away. Finally, you found yourself in the wrong city, wondering why the signs on the roadway hadn't led you better.” 39 likes
“Her aunt Sol had once told Shai to smile at the worst insults and snap at the minor ones. That way, no man would know your heart.” 24 likes
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