Minor Thoughts

In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.

Review: The Emperor’s Soul [★★★★☆]

The Emperor's Soul Cover Art

The Emperor’s Soul
by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: ★★★★☆
Read From: 27 January 2014 – 28 January 2014
Goal: Flotsam & Jetsam

I’m feeling lazy tonight, so I’ll borrow the Goodreads plot summary.

Shai is given an impossible task: to create—to Forge—a new soul for the emperor in less than one hundred days. But her soul-Forgery is considered an abomination by her captors. She is confined to a tiny, dirty chamber, guarded by a man who hates her, spied upon by politicians, and trapped behind a door sealed in her own blood. Shai’s only possible ally is the emperor’s most loyal councillor, Gaotona, who struggles to understand her true talent.

As I’ve grown to expect, Brandon Sanderson delivers the goods. The magic system in this novella, Forging, is innovative. Forger’s can transform raw materials or existing objects into something else. But they have to know the history and character of the object first. If they don’t get the soul of the object right, their Forgeries won’t last. A good Forger has to have a very close, very intimate knowledge of that which they would Forge. And that’s the soul of this novella: in order to Forge a new soul for the emperor, Shai will have to learn more about him than anyone else knows, even his closest friends. That developing relationship — between Shai and a brain dead ruler — is what drives this story.

This story won a Hugo award last year. I can see why. The magic system is interesting. As is usual in Brandon’s stories, the limitations of the magic system are more interesting than the magic system itself. But the magic takes a back seat to the relationships and that’s what makes this story good.