the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Brandon Sanderson’ Category

The Emperor’s Soul, by Brandon Sanderson

published November 2012

where I got it: received ARC from the publisher












The story is interesting, the magic is thrilling, but it’s the characterization that turns this simple tale into a glowing story and had me asking myself who is Brandon Sanderson, and why aren’t I reading more of him?

Caught stealing in the palace, Shai is scheduled for execution.  You see, it’s perfectly fine for the licensed palace artists to forge and reforge ancient artwork that will beautify the palace. But what Shai does is illegal.  Beyond being guilty of changing her own soul and practicing pagan arts, she’s unlicensed.  But before they rid themselves of one more filthy forger who insists on using pagan magics, the powers that be will use her to their benefit.  I’m just as uppity as the Imperial Councillors in the story, for having preconceived notions about her, for misunderstanding how and why she does what she does.

To earn her life back, Shai is given an impossible task.  She’s to re-forge the soul of the Emperor, who has been in a coma since an attack on the palace. The Emperor is expected to be in seclusion for one hundred days to mourn the death of his wife.  If the Emperor fails to appear after that time period, if Shai isn’t successful in her task, the Empire will fall.  Well, maybe not the Empire, but at least the ruling faction.   Her skills are seen as an abomination by the ruling faction, but she’s just become their key to staying in power.

Forging isn’t as easy as you’d think, and this isn’t a magic that just happens because some powerful wizard wills it to.    The forger isn’t just making a painting, or a vase, or an ornamented table, they are convincing the materials to remember a different history, a more beautiful history. To turn an old, scratched up table into something beautiful, the wood itself must be convinced that it was cut from a healthy tree, was carefully carved and then polished and oiled weekly. Using uniquely carved soul stamps, a forger isn’t making a copy, or a fake, they are changing the soul of the item to believe it was always that way.  And if forging a painting or sculpture is that complicated, just imagine how complicated it would be to forge the soul of a person.

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About this redhead, etc.

Redhead is a snarky, non-politically correct 30-something who reviews mostly science fiction and fantasy and talks about all sorts of other fun scifi and fantasy geekery. She once wrote a haiku that included the word triskaidekaphobia.

This blog contains adult language and strong opinions. The best way to contact her outside of this blog is twitter, where she is @redhead5318 .

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