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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars


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on 23 July 2017
Concept, execution, emotive force - loved it. Sanderson explores some fundamental realities of being human and mixes in some solid, kickass fantasy action. I didn't think short stories were worth much. I was wrong.
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on 28 June 2016
Interesting short read. Introduces the magic of forgery, rewriting the history of something to change it. An engaging female main character and plot. Nice addition to the cosmere books.
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on 24 July 2017
I don't think I've come across a Sanderson book that I don't like. His world building is amazing, his imagination and magic system fresh and new and his stuttering captivating... I only come back wanting more...
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on 16 June 2013
I do like Brandon Sanderson's books and this one didn't disappoint, although I would have liked it to be longer. Fantasy needs to explore different ways of thinking - not just dragons, fighting with swords and magic. This story has an enigmatic heroine, a plot that keeps the reader guessing and a satisfying ending.
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on 21 January 2016
Sanderson is the king of fantasy literature. Anything he has written has been superb. This no less so even tho its a short.
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on 5 June 2015
Excellent fantasy. Well written. Well worth buying.
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Brandon Sanderson is one of the few living fantasy authors who can actually come up with new, unique magical systems.

And his novella "The Emperor's Soul" introduces a fasincating new kind of magic -- Forging, in which a person can overwrite reality with what might have been. It's only a novella, but Sanderson proves that he doesn't need a 400-page tome to write a powerful, action-packed story with a well-developed heroine.

The expert Forger Shai is in prison, awaiting execution by the Rose Empire, when she's offered a chance to earn her freedom. The Emperor has been assassinated, and while they were able to fix his body, his mind is now gone. His advisors have bought some time by claiming that he's grieving for his wife, but that will only last ninety days.

They need Shai to do something terrible: Forge a new soul for the Emperor. Not only is it considered an abomination, but it's incredibly difficult.

Shai has no choice, so she begins learning everything she can in order to create a soulstamp for the Emperor -- which is no easy task, since she has to know what kind of person he truly was. But the hardest task may be planning her escape, especially since she's now enmeshed in a deadly political scheme.

Brandon Sanderson is a master of the doorstopper fantasy epic, but "The Emperor's Soul" proves that he's just as good in shorter works. And while the action rarely even moves outside of Shai's room, he manages to give the feeling that we've dropped into a rich, well-developed world that is just begging for exploration.

He also creates a really fascinating magic system -- it can turn any item/person into what it MIGHT have been. For instance, a broken window can be turned into the stained-glass masterpiece it once was, by suggesting to it that it was repaired by a skilled artisan.

But as he sketches that out, Sanderson weaves around lots of political intrigue and scheming, so that Shai has to constantly be two steps ahead of people who want to harm her. Not only does she have to grapple with the malevolent Frava, who wants Shai dead and the Emperor as a puppet, but a bone-and-blood-sorcerer who can track her down if she escapes.

And as the ninety-day period twists down to its end, Sanderson ramps up the tension. The climax is an eruption of action-packed martial arts, traps and grotesque sorcery, in which we see Shai using her skills on herself.

Shai is a truly likable heroine -- she's clever, tricky and knows plenty about human psychology, but she also has a kind heart. Her appreciation for the art of Forgery, and in making things better through it, has some intriguing implication for the new Emperor. And Gaotona is a fascinating foil for Shai -- an elderly, rather fussy man who sees Forgery as an abomination, but is clear-sighted and honest enough to learn about it from Shai.

"The Emperor's Soul" is a beautiful, rich little piece that shows Brandon Sanderson's skill, and introduces us to a new world that I hope he will revisit. Definitely a must read.
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on 12 December 2016
Sanderson is really great at crafting completely original and surprising worlds. His characters have depth and logic and a weight given by their perfectly common-sensical motivations. His worlds are like nothing you've ever seen before. This story describes the work of a detective seeking to profile a dead king beyond historical glamor and idealization. She's trying to capture the man's soul so perfectly that she would be able to make a copy of it, despite the difficulty of the task, and seal it back inside him. But the story has twists and turns and it's surprising and clever like a good robbery movie.
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on 26 February 2014
I was slightly dubious going into this Brandon Sanderson short story. I'm not entirely sure why as I've never been disappointed by anything he's written, but often it's the epics and series that really hook me, and perhaps I was afraid that I'd get too invested and be disappointed by something that was so short.

As I read the first couple of chapters I thought that my fears had been realised, but then I got completely hooked. It's the tale of a Forger - someone skilled in manipulating reality to change something into something else that it could have been. It's a fascinating new magic system again that builds another world for Sanderson to play in, showing off what is probably his greatest skill.

Although there is a close focus on one main character, the others that fill the world are enriched with depth that the reader is allowed glances into, particularly through the way that we learn about them from a single insightful point of view.

As always with Sanderson's work, I was left wanting more, and felt that this short story was certainly worth reading.
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on 20 July 2017
Although short the story is amazing and well written. The magic of forgery is unique and something i look forward to seeing more of in the elantris sequels. Don't let the size bother you where it lacks in pages it makes up in a interesting story.
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