The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson
The Emperor's Soul is another amazing story by Brandon Sanderson. We are introduced to characters that evolve before our eyes in the short timeframe of the events of the story. Another new intriguing magic system, Forging, is revealed by Brandon that brings a freshness to the story. There is a depth to The Emperor's Soul that demonstrates Brandon's mastery of storytelling, whether it is 1000 page novel or a short story as this.
The story starts off in what seems to be the last moments of Shai's life, but she is given a second chance in exchange for services to the Emperor's advisors. The Emperor has been attacked and his life and soul hang in the balance. Shai is brought in to save the Emperor's soul. Shai is a Forger with a gift for changing the nature of things for the better. The majority of the story is how Shai is locked in a room and tasked to recreate the Emperor's soul, however there is so much more going on than this.
The Emperor's Soul is one of those stories that as you're reading you come to realize something more is going on than what is being revealed. There are different levels of planning by Shai going on, not only are we privy to what all the characters know is going on, but we are also "let in" on what Shai is planning to do in her head. However, there is another level to the story that is not revealed to us until the end. Breadcrumbs are left throughout the story and hints are dropped. Towards the latter end of the story, we are able to realize something else is going on, but not until the last scenes do we see it come to fruition.
The concept of Forging and the art that it is as presented in the story is a very interesting concept for a "magic system" in the story. Although a little difficult to understand at first, Brandon does a great job at providing small examples throughout the story that reveal more about the art and solidify it's believability in the story.
Although not part of the story, there is a Postscript at the end of the book that discusses how Brandon came up with the idea of Forging that was personable and great insight to Forging. The Postscript also mentions that this story takes place in the same world as Elantris, Sel. There are no direct links from the story to the events in the story Elantris or it's characters.
The Emperor's Soul is a great story that is told with depth and complexity, in both characterization and plot. I felt that Shai's character, as well as all the characters were well developed and were believable in their emotions and motivations. The plot was very well thought out and contained many twists and turns, that were amazingly well carried out for the length of the story. The angst that existed throughout the story was very well done and existed in many different forms. While reading, I often found myself becoming anxious for Shai and her predicament and that she only had a certain amount of time to complete her task. As time ran down and her plans were put into motion, it was very fulfilling to see it all come together.
One of Brandon's strength's in my mind has been his ability to put several story lines in motion and to bring them all to fulfillment in a fast paced and believable manner. That strength combined with his fighting/battle scenes, are always amazing and fun to read. There is a little bit of fighting at the end of the story.
I wholeheartedly recommend The Emperor's Soul for everyone. There are no inappropriate scenes of sex, sensuality or violence. A core aspect of the story is being genuine and learning to trust. A good lesson to learn for anyone. The Emperor's Soul is entertaining and will hold up well to multiple readings.