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:

Author: Jan

I love to read--especially mysteries, science fiction and fantasy. I also love blogging, photography, gardening, playing Mah Jonng, reading with a cat on my lap, throwing a ball for a dog, creating cards to send to family and friends, reading book blogs, using my computer.

15 thoughts on “Review: The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson”

  1. This sounds interesting. I generally avoid novellas by new authors for the same reasons you mention. It it’s a novella that’s part of a series it’s not a big deal because the stage is already set but on it’s own it tends not to work for me but this sounds like it’s complete enough. I never would’ve picked this up but now I’m curious to read it. Thanks for sharing!


  2. This is something I’d would not normally think of picking up because of the cover, and though is pretty I wouldn’t have known in what genre to place it. I’m now very curious.
    Thank you 🙂


    1. I really enjoyed this and since this was the first thing I’ve read by Brandon Sanderson it makes me want to read more!


  3. I have seen a lot of reviews of thsi and never realized it was an novella. Though it was one of the novels I missed pre Mistborn.


  4. Wow, no jeers. Guess this means I need to read something by Brandon Sanderson now! I’ve been meaning to start the Mistborn trilogy for a while now.


    1. This was very good, Danya. And I know lots of people really enjoy Sanderson’s books. I need to read some more of them.


  5. I liked this a lot too – I haven’t read a lot of Brandon Sanderson’s other books, only ELANTRIS and the Mistborn trilogy. I liked this best, I think – I thought the Mistborn books kind of fizzled out towards the end.

    I didn’t realise it was connected to ELANTRIS? I read that way back when it was first released though – like all his other books, an amazingly creative magic system, and I thought it left the door open for more stories in the world.


    1. I haven’t read Elantris, but on Goodreads it said this book is set in the same world. It’s certainly an interesting world based on this book.


  6. Ok I’ve read both and loved both. It is not necessary to read one with the other because they have completely different characters as they take place on different continents or countries. All of Brandon Sanderson’s epic fantasy or adult fantasy books take place in the same world but different places from my understanding. This is one of my favorite stories of his. I feel like he conveyed so much in such a short book.

    If this is only your first you should read MISTBORN trilogy! Or The Way of Kings with me (I just started) and your twitter link on the blog doesn’t take me to your profile I’m @pabkins we totally need to chat since I adore everything I see you reading haha.


    1. Yes, I keep hearing about how good all of Brandon Sanderson’s books are! Let’s see…I already have Elantris, The Way of Kings and Steelheart (all ebooks). And Legion and The Emperor’s Soul in Audio.

      I will try to figure out what’s wrong with my twitter link 😦 Thanks for telling me, Tabitha!


      1. I did fix my twitter link on the blog. Somehow I had put in the wrong name…thought I’d checked it…but couldn’t have. Fixed now


    1. Wow! You are very lucky, Tabitha! I haven’t met any authors except my brother-in-law (an SFF author) who doesn’t like to talk much about his writing…LOL.

      And we do seem to like a lot of the same books! I’ve found a number of my favorite books this year from your blog and few others I found in the last few months.


Comments are closed.