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The Emperor's Soul


4.32  ·  Rating details ·  69,511 ratings  ·  4,736 reviews
Also available in Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection.

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, s
Paperback, 175 pages
Published October 11th 2012 by Tachyon Publications
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Eon ♒Windrunner♒ 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 Emperor…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)

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Oct 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
(I read this in Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection)

Absolutely incredible. Apparently, 105 pages are sufficient for Sanderson to craft a fantastic story with a strong beginning, wonderful characterizations, memorable climax scene, and a satisfying conclusion.The Emperor's Soul has become my favorite novella of all time; it has qualities that surpassed a lot of other fantasy novels I’ve read.

I won’t go into any details on what the plot is, it’s only 100 pages long, try to jump into this sto
Muhtasin Oyshik
Nov 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson
Complex, unique, and interesting. Sanderson formed a very interesting and unique world which was surprisingly complex for its length with various related threads of ethical issues, political maneuvering, diverse character motivations, and engaging character interactions. Fast-paced. Excellent world-building. Well developed, and enjoyable characters. And the most interesting part was that there was tension building as the plot revealed. The ending was very,
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
What if you could create anything?
Or more specifically, what if you could change the history of an object and essentially recreate what it believes it is?
All you need is a little Titanium White...


Ok. Maybe not.
Shai is a Forger who got pinched by the Imperial po-po while trying to steal some of their shit, and now, in exchange for her freedom, she's been tasked with recreating the Emperor's Soul!
Which, in case you were wondering is why the book is titled, The Emperor's Soul.
Now, she's got to do
Iryna *Book and Sword*
Second read. Just as amazing.

"The Emperor's Soul" deserves all of the stars. All of the praise.

“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. Then you stopped paying attention as you drifted farther and farther away. ”

You know what this book's only flaw is? It's way too short.
Oh, don't worry, the story is all perfectly wrapp
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
so i fell into the sandersonhole for the fun of it

and now i'm trapped whoops
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Feb 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-has, fantasy
This is a marvelous short fantasy novel - I absolutely loved it!! Very possibly my favorite of all of Sanderson's works that I've read.

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 nea
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My only complaint about this book is that it should have been longer!

Shai is a forger, meaning that she can rewrite an object's history, thus making it into a new object. Such magic is considered taboo within the Empire, that is until they find themselves enlisting Shai's help to try and forge the soul of their fallen Emperor, Ashravan.

I don't know why I loved this so much, I think I was just completely entranced by the magic system. It depends wholly on the plausibility of any given thing to b
Robin (Bridge Four)
Audible Daily Deal Sale until 28Jan18 $1.99

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 diff
Dana Ilie
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Too damn short. Sanderson what is wrong with you? I want more~!!!
Eon ♒Windrunner♒


This is storytelling.

I can count with one finger the number of novellas I have felt compelled to own, and in hardcover nonetheless, and The Emperor’s Soul is that book.

“It would be the greatest Forgery of all”

I will abstain from describing anything regarding the plot as I would love for new readers to experience it without any knowledge, in fact, if you can avoid the blurb, even better. Capturing everything I love about fantasy in the diminutive form of a novella shorter than 130 pages, it
May 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned, favorites, reread
I read this novella in the Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection along with my fellow brigdemen (and bridgewomen?) : Celeste, Petrik, Sarah and Mary

No matter how good you were, someone was better. Live by that knowledge, and you would never grow so confident that you became sloppy.

This is a re-read of the Emperor's Soul and while it was just good the first time I read it, this time I found it to be an exceptional masterpiece!! I'm truly speechless and I never experienced this fee
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This little book is Brandon Sanderson's true masterpiece.

She was nearly there with this project. The emperor’s soul spread out before her, with only some few corners still shadowed. She wanted to see it through; she longed to find out if she could make him live again.

Shai is a Forger, an artist who can copy and recreate almost anything through the use of forbidden magic. Sentenced to death for the theft of a sacred imperial relic, she grasps her final chance to live, and to perform the great
Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller
[4.5/5 stars] Mini Review: As my second time through this novella by Sanderson (this time experienced via graphic audio for a professional review), I liked the reread just as much. The basic premise is rife with authentic Sanderson creativity and world-building – a magic system using detailed stamps to reforge items into something new. I love reading about any magic element that requires a lot of skill, so the craft descriptions throughout the story were my favorite sections. I also thought the ...more
Lena K.
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fantasy, hugo
I loved everything that I've read so far by Sanderson; The Stormlight Archive, Warbreaker, Elantris and Mistborn (Cosmere is a vast place with amazing stories). So I knew I won't be disappointed here as well. Which I was not indeed. But, WHY was this so short? It was Such a unique story, and I would have loved to hear more about Shai and Gaotana and the emperor. Where does Sanderson get these ideas? :) (He actually explains in the postscript if you're interested).

One of my favorite quotes was t
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Original review can be found on Booknest.

I am an unapologetic Sandersonite. I’m completely in love with the Cosmere Brandon Sanderson has created, and so far I’ve adored every story he’s crafted that is part of that greater whole.

One of the things I love so much about his writing is the size of the books, and the knowledge that he’s a prolific writer, so I never have to wait too terribly long for more of the story. And yet, somehow, this tiny novella is now one of my favorite things he’s writte
Eric Allen
Nov 29, 2012 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
Lady Luna. ✨

“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.”

I know this quote is so over-used however it is my favorite quote from this book and quite possibly one of my favorite book quotes ever.

One of my favorite short stories by Brandon Sanderson. It's literally only 105 pages long so it is very short. I can remember reading it for the first time and loving every second of it, on the reread I noticed a few
Deborah Obida
Each person was a puzzle.

My first official read of 2018, read this first cause I know I'll love it and I wanted to start the year with something I'll love.

This book is perfect, am still marveled by the fact that its even a novella, the way the plot unravels, and that ending, I did not see that coming, then again its Brandon Sanderson, I shouldn't be surprise, he is a genius.

World building and Writing
Once again Brandon Sanderson wowed me, the world is so well depicted even though its a novel
Nimrod Daniel
Jun 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Rating this book would be difficult, especially because it's a short novel so I'll go through some points:

Characterization – the book is focused on two main characters, and that's probably what made it possible to portray them so well. The characterization in this book is superb, sanderson even managed to develop these two characters throughout the book in a very believable way, and considering the length of the book he did an excellent job.
Just don't look for humor, as there's no funny characte
Jan 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Exquisitely lovely!!! I did not expect anything else!!!

*** 5 ***

This story is "The Emperor's Soul " from the World of Elantris and is about a master craftsmen forger, Shai, who can meticulously copy and re-create any item by rewriting its history with skillful magic, knowledge and will. The concept is that an object can be "persuaded" do believe ti is different to the point that it changes itself and could even become something completely different. However, that something has to be believable t
“There are times when one must accept the aid of darkness
in order to contain a greater darkness.”

Brandon Sanderson has done it again!!
“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.”

Well, shit.

*flips a desk*
*karate chops the air*
*flips another desk because why not*

I just

The Emperor's Soul, has been on my radar for quite awhile AND I thought it'd be a great idea to pick it up during the most crucial time of my life : Exam week. I'm 1000000% sure I'm going to complain about why I did this to myself BUT you know what ??? I have no
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing

What a brilliant imagination Brandon Sanderson has!!! This book was AMAZING!

Wan ShaiLu, was more than a simple con artist. So much more. She could change the nature of reality itself.

Imagine a world where there are Forgers who can change/rewrite the nature of objects and even of a person by using a Soulstamp.

Wan ShaiLu is such a forger, one of the best there is. And when she’s caught replacing a famous painting with her almost flawless forgery, instead of being executed she’s offered a d

Valliya Rennell
4.25 stars

"We may feel in control, but we never truly are unless we understand people. Controlling our environment is no longer about blocking the wind, it’s about knowing why the serving lady was crying last night, or why a particular guard always loses at cards. Or why your employer hired you in the first place."

This is definitely my favorite Cosmere work so far. Unlike the others I have read, this one takes a step back and focuses more on the magic system and characters... not plot at all
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I buddy read this with Maggie!

I’ve heard good things about Brandon Sanderson for years and it’s been a while since I’ve read any good fantasy, so I decided to give this a try. Needless to say it hit the spot. Not immediately. It took about 6 or 7 pages.

The premise in a nutshell: Shai (incidentally one of my favourite protagonists in recent years) is a Forger, capable of rewriting the history of an object (provided the new history is plausible and shares some common branching off point from the o
Feb 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: YA and Adult fantasy fans.
“True art was more than beauty; it was more than technique. It was not just imitation.”

As someone who was wary of all the five-star ratings I saw given for this novella, I’m very surprised to know that I am now one of them.


I absolutely loved this story about Shai, a talented Forger who is tasked with forging the soul of the emperor on threat of death. I loved it more than Elantris (clearly).

The entire concept of forgery, along with the lack of limitation as to what can b
Layla ✷ Praise the sun ✷
Nov 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
Wow. Just wow.

Where does this man get all his fancy ideas from,
and how can he fit them, like in this case, on not even 200 pages?
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
Alex ☣ Deranged KittyCat ☣
The Emperor's Soul is a nice, short book.

Shai is a Forger, a person who can copy and recreate anything with magical seals. While trying to steal an imperial relic, she was caught and sentenced to death. She was promised her freedom in exchange for recreating the emperor's soul (as he was left catatonic after an assassination attempt).

The book follows her imprisonment days as she creates the seal required for the emperor's soul.

I liked Shai's intelligence and intuition. She is fully aware that s
Scott  Hitchcock
Read as part of Arcanum Unbounded.

What amazes me in Sanderson's shorter works is how quickly and simply he creates a world. There's nothing superfluous or verbose about it yet it is engrossing and thought provoking. Definitely worth the read.

The postscript in Arcanum Unbounded about how the idea came about was very interesting after having the story just unfold.
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Brandon’s major books for the second half of 2016 are The Dark Talent, the final volume in Alcatraz Smedry’s autobiographical account of his battle against the Evil Librarians who secretly rule our world, and Arcanum Unbounded, the collection of short fiction in the Cosmere universe that includes the Mistborn series and the Stormlight
Archive, among others. This collection features The Emperor’s S

Other books in the series

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

Articles featuring this book

And just like that, the year is almost over! But it's not quite time to stop adding books to your 2019 Goodreads Reading Challenge. There's...
71 likes · 33 comments
“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.” 109 likes
“Control yourself, she told herself forcibly. Become someone who can deal with this. She took a deep breath and let herself become someone else. An imitation of herself who was calm, even in a situation like this. It was a crude forgery, just a trick of the mind, but it worked.” 55 likes
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