The Emperor's Soul
Cover showing artwork by Alexander Nanitchkov.
|Audio read by||Angela Lin|
|Cover artist||Alexander Nanitchkov|
|Set in||Sel (same world as Elantris)|
|Published||2012 (Tachyon Publications)|
|Media type||Trade paperback|
|Awards||Hugo Award for Best Novella (2013)|
|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. The novella is included in the 2016 Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection.
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.
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.
The Emperor's Soul won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novella.  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.
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". Tor.com 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.
- "2013 Hugo Winners". The Hugo Awards. 2 September 2013.
- "The Emperor's Soul [Unabridged] [Audible Audio Edition]". Amazon.com. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
- Moser, A.O. (9 August 2013). "Review: The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson". Strange Horizons.
- Brandon Sanderson: The Emperor’s Soul, reviewed by Samantha Nelson, at the A.V. Club; published November 26, 2012; retrieved September 18, 2017
- Sanderson on a Smaller Scale: The Emperor’s Soul, by Brandon Sanderson, reviewed by Stefan Raets, at Tor.com; published November 20, 2012; retrieved September 18, 2017