[Book Review] The Emperor's Soul

The Emperor's Soul / Brandon Sanderson

The Emperor's Soul is a novella about a thief and a Forger, her last operation betrayed, now awaiting execution for her crimes.  Then instead she is offered the challenge of a lifetime, re-Forge the Emperor's soul, re-imbuing cognizant life into the damaged vessel of the Emperor's body.  A challenge beyond most Masters, even with the proper time and equipment, Shai must complete her project in an impossible amount of time and figure out how to escape before her use to those otherwise in power comes to an end.

I went into reading this with no knowledge or familiarity with Sanderson's Elantris.  I obtained a copy several years ago through an ebook bundle (either via Humble Bundle or StoryBundle), but never got around to reading it.  I was finally prompted to read it when a friend recommended it as a book club pick, so I slotted it in as a short end of year read.  I'm going to assume that were I familiar with the larger world setting there would be little details I'd notice in connection, but The Emperor's Soul stands out as its own story.  Definitely worth reading, and a good pick for the often chaotic end of the year.

Discussion Fodder
  • What are the connections between soul and creation in this book?  Between art and Forging?
  • What is the role of history in the present?
  • There are several types of practicioners, Forgers, Bloodsealers, Remembers.  How do they differ, how are they similar?  Is a Forger "an artist who painted with human perception"?
  • Who does a work of art belong to?  Who has the right to destroy it?
  • Shai refuses to give a backdoor to controlling the Emperor, but changes him on her own.  Did she do the right thing, regardless of the intent and outcome?
  • Have you read anything else in the world setting by Sanderson?  How does this fit in, how does it differ?  If you haven't, do you think you will?

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