Review: The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: ★★★★★


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.


Touted as Brandon Sanderson’s best novella to date and the winner of the Hugo Award for Best Novella, The Emperor’s Soul definitely lived up to the hype. I don’t usually expect much from novellas. Typically going into one, I expect a fun story that I will enjoy, but not really get attached to, remember much, or want more of that particular world. This was not the case with Emperor’s Soul.

This book was excellent. The story, though slightly slow to get going as compared to its length, really picked up at about the 50 page mark. This is not to say that it wasn’t interesting before that. It just took me until around that time until I was fully invested. 

The magic systems were both fascinating and explained with enough detail to understand but enough vagueness to keep you wanting more. This is a novella so I did not expect a full fledged, Mistborn like magic system, so I was not disappointed in the least about not learning more. The potential and possibilities for the uses of the magic were incredible and I want to know more.

Shai was very compelling as the main character and I really enjoyed seeing through her eyes for most of the story and getting to know her. Her humor was also a nice offset to the oftentimes very serious tone of the story. 

I haven’t read many novellas in my life. In fact, I just started reading them this year. However, I can tell you that this is the best one yet. I would love to dig more into this world, its magic system, and its people. I would love to see a sequel come from this amazing world.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. One of my favorite books ever! Sanderson stories are brilliant, whether they’re 100 pages or 1000 pages!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. David S says:

      It was so great! I want more! I’ve been reading Sanderson for a while, but this one surprised me.


  2. I’m with you on a sequel! I also don’t usually read novellas, but damn was The Emperor’s Soul ever a tour de force.


    1. David S says:

      Wasn’t it? I’ve read a good bit of Sanderson’s work and this still managed to surprise me in how good it was(silly me). The magic system especially was fascinating!

      Liked by 1 person

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