Being that this is a novella, there isn’t much fluff to be found. Every page is lean and crisp, driving you forward into the next part of the story. Many stories of this length suffer from an excess of good plot, sucking life out of the character developments, but that’s not the case here. Sanderson has established a good balance between his characters and setting, providing rich personalities and a rich magic system to work with. In the midst of Shai’s reckoning, we are also given clashing views and insights on the truth and maturity of art in its many forms, which, in hand, lends itself to a brave level of wisdom–a wisdom not often seen or heard in other stories. Not because it is some sort of vexing or socially compromising wisdom, but simply because the unique way of thinking that each of these characters is forced to undertake isn’t something easily designed to talk about with prose.
In short, The Emperor’s Soul is a delightful read. If you’d like something a little different, the audiobook is quite good, too. Just prepare yourself to listen, or you’ll miss out on something that you may potentially love. Keep up the good work, Sanderson.
Read the rest of Barham’s review at Geeks Under Grace.
For more on The Emperor’s Soul, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art © 2009 by Alexander Nanitchkov. Design by Elizabeth Story.