The Emperor's Soul

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The Emperor's Soul
The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson cover.png
Cover showing artwork by Alexander Nanitchkov.
Author Brandon Sanderson
Audio read byAngela Lin
Cover artistAlexander Nanitchkov
CountryUnited States
Series The Cosmere
Genre Fantasy
Set inSel (same world as Elantris )
Published2012 (Tachyon Publications)
Media typeTrade paperback
Awards Hugo Award for Best Novella (2013)
ISBN 978-1-61696-092-6
OCLC 793575540
Website The Emperor's Soul

The Emperor's Soul is a fantasy novella written by American author Brandon Sanderson. It was first published in November 2012 by Tachyon Publications. It won the 2013 Hugo Award for best novella. [1] The novella is included in the 2016 Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection .

Fantasy genre of literature, film, television and other artforms

Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction set in a fictional universe, often without any locations, events, or people referencing the real world. Its roots are in oral traditions, which then became literature and drama. From the twentieth century it has expanded further into various media, including film, television, graphic novels and video games.

Novella written, fictional, prose narrative normally longer than a short story but shorter than a novel

A novella is a text of written, fictional, narrative prose normally longer than a short story but shorter than a novel, somewhere between 17,500 and 40,000 words.

Brandon Sanderson American fantasy writer

Brandon Sanderson is an American fantasy and science fiction writer. He is best known for the Cosmere universe, in which most of his fantasy novels are set. He is also known for finishing Robert Jordan's epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time.



Shai is a thief and practitioner of magical forgery who has been arrested and sentenced to death. The Emperor's corrupt advisors offer to free her if she agrees to forge a new soul for the Emperor, who has been left brain dead by an assassination attempt. She agrees, but plans to escape. She is given 100 days to forge the soul, given only official histories, the Emperor's diary, and Gaotona, the only non-corrupt advisor, a task even she deems impossible. As the two research the Emperor's past together, Gaotona learns more about forgery, a generally detested practice, and the two develop a grudging respect for each other. During this task, Shai realizes the Emperor had once been idealistic, but a life of leisure resulted in his recent indulgence, and resolves to create and tweak the soul as her masterpiece, setting him on a better path. Though many opportunities present themselves, Shai puts off escaping until the work is done, whereupon Gaotona helps her win her freedom against his colleagues' treachery. The Emperor, with the forged soul, resumes his rule.

Forgery is a white-collar crime that generally refers to the false making or material alteration of a legal instrument with the specific intent to defraud anyone. Tampering with a certain legal instrument may be forbidden by law in some jurisdictions but such an offense is not related to forgery unless the tampered legal instrument was actually used in the course of the crime to defraud another person or entity. Copies, studio replicas, and reproductions are not considered forgeries, though they may later become forgeries through knowing and willful misrepresentations.

Brain death is the complete loss of brain function. It differs from persistent vegetative state, in which the person is alive and some autonomic functions remain. It is also distinct from an ordinary coma, whether induced medically or caused by injury and/or illness, even if it is very deep, as long as some brain and bodily activity and function remains; and it is also not the same as the condition known as locked-in syndrome. A differential diagnosis can medically distinguish these differing conditions.


The Emperor's Soul is set in the Rose Empire, a nation on the shardworld of Sel. This is the same world in which Elantris was set, though few connections are made to that book within The Emperor's Soul. In the postscript, Sanderson explains that he was inspired to write this story after visiting the National Palace Museum in Taiwan and also by memories from the two years he spent in Korea as an LDS missionary.

<i>Elantris</i> novel by Brandon Sanderson

Elantris is a fantasy novel written by American fantasy and science fiction writer Brandon Sanderson. The book was first published on April 21, 2005 by Tor Books, which is based in New York City, and was Sanderson's first published book.

National Palace Museum National museum in Taipei, Taiwan

The National Palace Museum, located in Taipei and Taibao, Chiayi County, Taiwan, has a permanent collection of nearly 700,000 pieces of ancient Chinese imperial artifacts and artworks, making it one of the largest of its type in the world. The collection encompasses 8,000 years of history of Chinese art from the Neolithic age to the modern. Most of the collection are high quality pieces collected by China's emperors. The National Palace Museum shares its roots with the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City, whose extensive collection of artwork and artifacts were built upon the imperial collections of the Ming and Qing dynasties.

Taiwan state in East Asia

Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a state in East Asia. Neighbouring states include the People's Republic of China (PRC) to the west, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the south. Taiwan is the most populous state and largest economy that is not a member of the United Nations (UN).


An audiobook version of the book was released on November 2, 2012 by, read by narrator Angela Lin. [2]


The Emperor's Soul won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novella. [1] Strange Horizons called it "thoughtful yet exciting" and "difficult to put down," and judged that it deserved its award because of the questions it raises about the nature of art. [3]

The Hugo Award for Best Novella is one of the Hugo Awards given each year for science fiction or fantasy stories published or translated into English during the previous calendar year. The novella award is available for works of fiction of between 17,500 and 40,000 words; awards are also given out in the short story, novelette and novel categories. The Hugo Awards have been described as "a fine showcase for speculative fiction" and "the best known literary award for science fiction writing".

Strange Horizons is an online speculative fiction magazine. It also features speculative poetry in every issue.

Art diverse range of human activities

Art is a diverse range of human activities in creating visual, auditory or performing artifacts (artworks), expressing the author's imaginative, conceptual ideas, or technical skill, intended to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power. In their most general form these activities include the production of works of art, the criticism of art, the study of the history of art, and the aesthetic dissemination of art.

The A.V. Club described Forgery as "one of (the) more intriguing (magical systems that Sanderson has created)", but noted that the magic is "far more developed than any of the characters" — while conceding that "the tale is never dull". [4] similarly described the work as "enjoyable" and "a worthy addition to Sanderson’s bibliography", and recommended it to "readers who enjoy getting into the intricacies of a magic system", but faulted it as "abbreviated and a bit unbalanced", positing that it would have worked better as a full-length novel. [5]

<i>The A.V. Club</i> Online newspaper and entertainment website

The A.V. Club is an online newspaper and entertainment website featuring reviews, interviews, and other articles that examine films, music, television, books, games, and other elements of pop culture media. The A.V. Club was created in 1993 as a supplement to The Onion, despite having a minimal presence on its website in its early years. A 2005 website redesign placed The A.V. Club in a more prominent position, allowing its online identity to grow. Unlike its parent publication, The A.V. Club is not satirical. is an online science fiction and fantasy magazine published by Tor Books, as well as an imprint of Tor Books.

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Tachyon Publications

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  1. 1 2 "2013 Hugo Winners". The Hugo Awards. 2 September 2013.
  2. "The Emperor's Soul [Unabridged][Audible Audio Edition]". . Retrieved 28 December 2013.
  3. Moser, A.O. (9 August 2013). "Review: The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson". Strange Horizons.
  4. Brandon Sanderson: The Emperor’s Soul, reviewed by Samantha Nelson, at the A.V. Club ; published November 26, 2012; retrieved September 18, 2017
  5. Sanderson on a Smaller Scale: The Emperor’s Soul, by Brandon Sanderson, reviewed by Stefan Raets, at; published November 20, 2012; retrieved September 18, 2017