The Emperor’s Soul
by Brandon Sanderson
Available Format(s): Trade Paperback and Limited Hardcover
From the best-selling author of the Mistborn Trilogy and the co-author of the final three books of the Wheel of Time series comes the tale of a heretic thief who is the only hope for the survival of an empire.
Shai is a Forger, a foreigner who can flawlessly copy and re-create any item by rewriting its history with skillful magic. Although condemned to death after trying to steal the emperor’s scepter, she is given one opportunity to save herself. Despite the fact that 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 from the attack of assassins.
Delving 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 her forgery is as much artistry as it is deception.
Skillfully deducing the machinations of her captors, Shai needs a perfect plan to escape. The fate of the kingdom lies in one impossible task. Is it possible to create a forgery of a soul so convincing that it is better than the soul itself?
Praise for The Emperor’s Soul
“The forgery was a masterpiece, an almost perfect replica of a priceless work of art. The minor inconsistencies were all but impossible for even an expert to detect. However, Shai had been betrayed. Now awaiting execution, Shai would be reprieved if she could do the impossible. As a Forger, Shai is a skillful artist who can apply complex magical glyphs to rewrite the history of the item to change it completely. Although Forgers are despised, the Empire needs Shai to accomplish the unthinkable: to Forge a new soul for the Emperor.
Verdict: Sanderson, the best-selling author of the Mistborn Trilogy and The Way of Kings, has set this novella in the same world as Elantris, one of his earlier novels, but it is totally independent. Fantasy fans will love both the compelling story and the creative magical setting.”
“Sanderson proves to be an exceptionally talented writer in the pages of this book…. The Emperor’s Soul is one of those rare high fantasies that feels fresh and is filled with a sense of wonder.”
—Charles de Lint, Fantasy &Science Fiction
“The Emperor’s Soul is a worthy addition to Sanderson’s bibliography: a new magic system with some interesting implications, a couple of fascinating characters, a focused plot, and a subtle link to the much larger picture he’s been painting for years.”
“With a fascinating study of clashing beliefs, another inventive magic system, and highly entertaining action sequence, The Emperor’s Soul is the book I would recommend to anyone who wants to find out for the first time what Sanderson is all about.”
—Fantasy Book Review
“This story had such a wonderful balance with the world, characters, and magic building, that I truly hope the author will explore it more….”
—Open Book Society, five-star review
“The Emperor’s Soul is fast-paced, clever, and fun….”
—Fantasy Book Critic
“This is a fantastic novella set in the Elantris world. Despite it’s short length this story was complex, intriguing, and just absolutely magical and engaging.”
—Hidden in Pages
“An excellent fast read, highly recommended for readers looking for unique story worlds and magic systems. It won the 2013 Hugo Award for a Novella, and that really says it all.”
—Flight of the Dragon
“It truly is a work of art.”
“If you’re going to pick up one book by Brandon Sanderson, this should be it.”
—The Illustrated Page
About the Author
Brandon Sanderson is the New York Times best-selling author of Elantris and the Mistborn Trilogy. In 2007, he was chosen by Robert Jordan’s widow to complete Jordan’s epic Wheel of Time series. The final volume was published in three novels: The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight, and A Memory of Light. Sanderson received his Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Brigham Young University (where he was a college roommate of Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings). He participates in the weekly podcast Writing Excuses.
Praise for the works of Brandon Sanderson
“Elantris is the finest novel of fantasy to be written in many years. Brandon Sanderson has created a truly original world of magic and intrigue, and with the rigor of the best science-fiction writers he has made it real at every level.”
—Orson Scott Card, author of Ender’s Game
On The Towers of Midnight, with Robert Jordan
“Jordan’s epic is coming to its long awaited conclusion in the next book, so this installment (Book 13) exquisitely ratchets up the suspense.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
Visit the Brandon Sanderson website.
Excerpt from The Emperor's Soul
Gaotona ran his fingers across the thick canvas, inspecting one of the greatest works of art he had ever seen. Unfortunately, it was a lie.
“The woman is a danger.” Hissed voices came from behind him. “What she does is an abomination.”
Gaotona tipped the canvas toward the hearth’s orange-red light, squinting. In his old age, his eyes weren’t what they had once been. Such precision, he thought, inspecting the brush strokes, feeling the layers of thick oils. Exactly like those in the original.
He would never have spotted the mistakes on his own. A blossom slightly out of position. A moon that was just a sliver too low in the sky. It had taken their experts days of detailed inspection to find the errors.
“She is one of the best Forgers alive.” The voices belonged to Gaotona’s fellow arbiters, the empire’s most important bureaucrats. “She has a reputation as wide as the empire. We need to execute her as an example.”
“No.” Frava, leader of the arbiters, had a sharp, nasal voice. “She is a valuable tool. This woman can save us. We must use her.”
Why? Gaotona thought again. Why would someone capable of this artistry, this majesty, turn to forgery? Why not create original paintings? Why not be a true artist? I must understand.
“Yes,” Frava continued, “the woman is a thief, and she practices a horrid art. But I can control her, and with her talents we can fix this mess we have found ourselves in.”
The others murmured worried objections. The woman they spoke of, Wan ShaiLu, was more than a simple con artist. So much more. She could change the nature of reality itself. That raised another question.
Why would she bother learning to paint? Wasn’t ordinary art mundane compared to her mystical talents?
So many questions. Gaotona looked up from his seat beside the hearth. The others stood in a conspiratorial clump around Frava’s desk, their long, colorful robes shimmering in the firelight. “I agree with Frava,” Gaotona said.
The others glanced at him. Their scowls indicated they cared little for what he said, but their postures told a different tale. Their respect for him was buried deep, but it was remembered.
“Send for the Forger,” Gaotona said, rising. “I would hear what she has to say. I suspect she will be more difficult to control than Frava claims, but we have no choice. We either use this woman’s skill, or we give up control of the empire.”
The murmurs ceased. How many years had it been since Frava and Gaotona had agreed on anything at all, let alone on something so divisive as making use of the Forger?
One by one, the other three arbiters nodded.
“Let it be done,” Frava said softly.