Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson

The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson

Book Review by Sharon Powers.

I don't always tell you why I've selected a particular book to review, but today I want you to know that I've selected one of my favorite author's books for a very good reason. Earlier this month Brandon Sanderson won the Hugo Award for The Emperor's Soul. My congratulations go out to Brandon Sanderson for the award on this fine story.

This book was released on November 1, 2012, but I wasn't able to get it and finish reading it until January 26, 2013 [FYI: I keep a reading log of all the books I've read, just so I will have access to information, like this.].

Photo by Eddie Schneider from
Brandon Sanderson's blog.
Brandon Sanderson with the two Hugo's
he won earlier this month for his fantasy
novella, The Emperor's Soul, and for his
work on the podcast, Writing Excuses.
    Brandon Sanderson actually won two Hugo's this month, one for Writing Excuses, a podcast done in episodes of fifteen minute increments on various topics of writing, and the second Hugo for The Emperor's Soul.

    I love Brandon Sanderson's work and am thrilled to be able to let you know about this wonderful novella. I'm telling you right now, up front, at the top of the book review, if you haven't read it, go get it and read it. Now that I've given you the bottom line, so to speak, at the beginning of the book review, let's take a closer look at why this wonderful little novella is so good that it garnered a Hugo award.

    First, I don't pretend to know what the Hugo panel use as standards for their selection and elimination process, so I cannot speak for them. That simple. I can only tell you what I think about Sanderson's story. We see...

Shai's dungeon cell was dark with the
door set into the ceiling--she had to
exit it by climbing a ladder. Sanderson's story opens, Shaizan (called Shai in the story), is a forger who is facing a death sentence and is locked away in a deep dark dungeon. She is frantically searching every rock, every corner of her cell for a way out when an emissary suddenly arrives to take her for questioning before the emperor's "arbiters." 

    To obtain her cooperation, they threaten Shai. First, they show her her five precious "soulstamps" in Shai's storage box, taken from her when she was arrested. The stones, magically attuned to only her, can only be used by her to rewrite  her history, her personality, her very soul for a time. The arbiters threaten to destroy them. But then, just as suddenly, they arbiters offer them back to her as payment for her cooperation in creating a master forgery...hmmm...but a master forgery of what? When she also demands a lot of gold, the arbiters readily agree. Realizing it is all just too easy, she knows that when she finishes doing their bidding, she will not get her "soulstamps" back; she knows they are still going to kill her. Thus, begins the story of Shai, master forger.

Shai planned out her escape (not altogether different than
this little cartoon), but I doubt she used a crayon.
    Shai has only 100 days to create her greatest work and figure out a way to get out of the situation she is in, still alive. To complicate matters, she is constantly watched by one of the arbiters, a man by the name of Gaotona. Gaotona seeks to understand Shai as he watches her work...and plot. In a real turn of events, through complications, plot and intrigue Shai comes to the brink of failure. Shai has made good plans for her escape, but decides to complete the forgery before the "deadline," and escape before she can be executed. For her to succeed she may have to pull off a "Forgery" greater than the near impossible one she bargained to complete, she may have to pull off the "greatest Forgery of all."

    I was so tempted to tell you more, but to do so would really spoil the read for you. The journey into Shai's world is magical. Sanderson has created another wonderfully strong woman character and set her in an absolutely innovative and magical setting. Sanderson excels at taking a mundane, ordinary thing and redefining it making it something extra-ordinary (like forgery, or colors).

    The worlds Sanderson creates are nothing short of magical (pun intended). Once he has his concept firmly in mind, he structures the story to unfold in such a way as to not give everything away at once, but still keep the reader interested in what is happening. The conclusions are always satisfying, and in the case of The Emperor's Soul, I think that the successful ending could only have been successfully written in "The Way of Sanderson." (Pardon my small literary allusion to Sanderson's, The Way of Kings.)

I love the novella so much, I too, had to think about
what to do first! Twitter? Blog? Twitter? Blog? I'll tell
you what I would do...first go get the novella and read it!
What do I think about this book?

   ...Well, you've already had the bottom line about this book up at the top of the blog post. Buy it. Read it. Enjoy it. That simple.

    I love Sanderson's writing, as I indicated above, he is already one of my favorite authors. The work he did on rounding out The Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan was nothing short of masterful. He deserves kudos galore for that alone. Undoubtedly, I will review for you at a later date, The Way of Kings, The Stormlight Archive, Book 1, sometime soon because book 2 of the new series comes out January 24, 2014 (if the release date doesn't change). I can't wait for it! 

    Most of all, I suppose I should wind up by saying that this wonderful novella, The Emperor's Soul, is just that, wonderful. Sanderson's writing is superb and I look forward to reading new material penned by this wonderful writer. I should think that we will be seeing more awards for Brandon Sanderson in the future. 

My Rating for this book:

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

4.6 Stars--Amazon (458 Reviewers)
4.78 Stars--Barnes & Noble (58 Reviewers)
4.31 Stars--Goodreads (984 Reviewers)

Information about this book:

Link to purchase the hardcover edition of The Emperor's Soul:
ISBN: 1616960922
Publisher: Dragonsteel Entertainment, LLC
Pages: 177
Award(s): Hugo Award: 2013, Best Novella

This book is available as an e-book from Amazon on Kindle, on the Nook, iBookstore, Kobo and from Dragonmount. It also available in paperback from Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or IndieBound. It is available from Audible as an audio book (unabridged). And, according to Brandon's newsletter, a small number of the hardcover edition of The Emperor's Soul, is available (via Tachyon) from The Brandon Sanderson Store (the last time I looked, $20.00 for an autographed copy.). This information is the best I have as of the time of posting.

Until next time...

...many enjoyable pages of reading.


____________________________________________________ - Barnes & Noble Reviews; - Cartoon about an escape; - Cartoon about what to do first; - 4.5 Stars out of 5; - Hardcover edition image of The Emperor's Soul - White Rose.