The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson [Review]

2013 World Fantasy Award Nominee for Best Novella  2013 Hugo Award Winner for Best Novella

2013 Hugo Award Winner for Best Novella


“It’s not imitating anything; it has become a better version of itself.”

Usually, when it comes to short stories and novellas I am rather skeptical and the Emperor’s Soul, published in 2012, was no exception to this feeling. Sometimes I find that there is not enough depth to the plot or the characters and leaves me feeling mildly disappointed. However, this was not the case with the Emperor’s Soul.

After reading it I was left with one thought to best summarize one of the ideas behind this novella: What if?

What if you made a different choice that changed who you are? What if an object’s or a person’s history took a different turn and changed its nature completely? I think that is how I can best sum up the magic system in this novella. I found it to be original and has such an impact in its ending.

I was intrigued by both characters, Shai and Gaotona and Gaotona’s lack of understanding for Shai to be compelling. Another theme I found in the book was based on perspectives; how a person’s rigid perspective can change and also change you as a person given the right set of circumstances. This novella’s ending I found to be fulfilling and making this novella one of my favorite reads! Sanderson does not disappoint! This is a short read so there’s not much more I can say without spoiling so I’ll just say…read it! 

5 out of 5 mortars




  1. This novella was fantastic, I remember really loving it when it came out. In fact, I think The Emperor’s Soul was the start of my love for novellas and short novels! Like you, I was very skeptical – how could an author cram an entire story into something so short? if you’re interested in trying another novella, All Systems Red by Martha Wells was just amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I find that Sanderson has a consistent knack for magic systems in particular. This seemed like a very interesting homage to the writing process in general, and how authors frequently create characters and then work their way backwards, unraveling the cause after the effect is already known.

    Liked by 1 person

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