Published: 2012 by Tachyon
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While updating my review indexes, I realized that somehow I’d forgotten to review “The Emperor’s Soul” by Brandon Sanderson, which was hands down one of my favorite books of 2012.
Brandon Sanderson is one of my all-time favorite authors, and I’m a shameless fangirl. Most of the novels that he writes are 1000-page chunksters. The Emperor’s Soul is different. It’s a standalone fantasy novel that manages to tell a compelling story in less than 200 pages. The protagonist, Shai, is a thief. She gets caught in the act of replacing the Moon Scepter with a Forgery. Forgery is a form of magic, and is viewed as an abomination. However, instead of executing her, her captors ask for her help. You see, the Emperor Ashvaran survived an assassination attempt, but he is in a coma. Shai must use her powers to forge the emperor a new soul. Every day she must show progress, otherwise her life is forfeit. Shai realizes that she will also likely be killed the moment that she succeeds in her task, and so she spends her days stalling and desperately searching for a way to escape.
One of the things that I love about Brandon Sanderson is his worldbuilding. In The Emperor’s Soul, he does a fantastic job of creating a believable world, even though the majority of the plot takes place in Shai’s cell. She develops a tenuous relationship with her captor Gaotona, and through him begins to understand the political climate surrounding her task. In order to rebuild the emperor’s soul, she has to learn more about him, and she has to come to terms with the fact that his rule hasn’t always been perfect.
The Emperor’s Soul is a beautiful story and has my utmost praise. It’s one of Sanderson’s best.