Review: The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson

The Emperor's Soul--audiobook
The Emperor’s Soul–audiobook


The Emperor’s Soul (novella)
by Brandon Sanderson
Narrated by Angela Lin
Series: Set in same world as Elantris
Genre: Fantasy
Published by Tachyon Publications, 2012
Audible Audiobook, Purchased
175 pages
Grade: B+
Narrator Grade: B+
Synopsis: 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.

However a man who was honest and clever was always, ALWAYS more difficult to scam than someone who was both dishonest and clever. Sincerity. It was so difficult, by definition, to fake.


  • Very original story.
  • The idea of forgery is very different from what I think of forgery. Very clever and original ideas.
  • First book I’ve read by Brandon Sanderson, but I plan to read more.
  • I’m not always fond of novellas since it’s hard to tell a complete story in a small number of pages. The Emperor’s Soul succeeds!
  • Shai is an interesting character. She’s coerced into this job after she’s captured and sentenced to death. She’s not sure she can recreate the emperor’s soul, but it’s a challenge she’s interested in–and one she has to try to do to keep living! The story hints at many other stories in Shai’s background. I’d like to read more about her!
  • It’s fascinating to watch Shai rebuild a soul.
  • The interactions between Shai and councilor Gaotona are intriguing. During the course of this story we find out more about each of these people. They start as enemies, but by the end they understand and respect each other. This is a vignette…a short time in these characters lives.
  • I don’t know if I had read Elantris if that might have enriched this story. Has anyone read both?
  • I really like this cover!
  • I enjoy the narrator. She has a cool, dispassionate narration for this story which goes well with these characters.
  • We don’t learn very much about the background of the characters. That works with this novella though. It’s a short form so each word counts. We don’t need to know anymore than what we learn for this story.


  • None

And a few thoughts . . .

  • The Emperor’s Soul won the Hugo Award for Best Novella 2013. Well deserved!
  • This is a very good book and I’m so glad I listened to it.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

I’m participating in the following reading challenges for this book: