Summary Sanderson

What we enjoyed about the book:

  • unique magic system, “nothing like I’ve read before”
  • forging fascinating
  • Shai a really cool character
  • interesting world
  • story economic: good pacing, story flows well, not too fast-paced (especially in the beginning of the story)
  • structure nice: first “beyond confused”, pacing well done
  • how you get to know the Emperor even though he is not actually there –> fascinating
  • Emperor is a character even though he is dead
  • Shai says that she never really got to meet the emperor, relatable sadness
  • Shai starts of quite critical, but she later understands him more, she needs to understand him thoroughly, fascinating
  • quite postmodern novelette: cut up technique, putting pieces together or the discussion about the painting (“basically Roland Barthes […] in a fantasy setting”)
  • very smart novella
  • what makes us us? What makes a person? Complex take on identity, can one forge a person?
  • alludes to all the ‘big questions’, unique take
  • What makes people good? How much influence does Shai have?
  • Great ending!
  • Novel had “twists which I did not see coming”, e.g. painting, revelation bit by bit satisfying, always nice
  • Sanderson manages to surprise
  • Shai cannot leave before her work is finished, made us nervous
  • Smooth and satisfying ending
  • 90% of the plot takes place in one room, works perfectly, almost like a play in theatre that takes place in one place, just two actors, “very well done”
  • Shai is very passionate, delightful to read about
  • Philosophically intriguing
  • Art vs. Forgery debate fascinating, “you’re not an artist, you’re just a forger”; Shai simply cannot let go of her project –> hallmark of an artist, passionate about her work
  • Shai was improving her room all the time, delightful little details, vivid transformation of the room –> also a great example to expand the magic system further
  • relatable book: working towards a deadline, procrastinating along the way
  • Shai pays a lot of attention, she invests a lot of time to learn everything she can about everyone
  • well written, well crafted, great attention to details, little jokes
  • no romance, quite nice!
  • unique
  • very well crafted
  • reminded one of us a bit of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Uncle Iroh & Zuko vibes

What we discussed:

  • very economic, but some parts are weak, e.g. world-building has information gaps: why are the court officials corrupt? World-building could be expanded
  • sleek novella, but more detail always nice
  • info drop at the beginning a bit much, confusing, overwhelming
  • Criminal artist cool but also a bit hard to position Shai between criminal vs. artist, social environment of Shai left open, what is her life usually like? Bit missing
  • Shai never really meets the emperor, kinda sad
  • Gaps in the world-building: political system could have been explained more, “Heritage Faction”, remained unclear, “my brain couldn’t fill the gaps so easily”, curiosity remained, “left in the shadows”
  • one member does not really like high fantasy and this felt like high fantasy, too much world-building and too little story –> Sanderson is a plot-writer, much more about the philosophy, comes from the high fantasy angle, clever take on high fantasy

How we rated the book:

  • 5/5 soul stamps, “read it fast” which is a good sign, “very much enjoyed it”, “first Sanderson book I actually finished”
  • 5/10 stars, “not deeply impressed”, “right in the middle”
  • 5/5 “one of my favourite books”, “so short, you can just read it whenever”
  • 5/5 soul stamps, “I really liked this book and I have literally nothing to criticise”
  • 5/5, “I love Sanderson in general”, “I am looking forward to rereading it every now and again”
  • 4/5 because it did not have the same “wow effect” as the first Mistborn book, “lacked the oomph factor”, “I really enjoyed it”
  • 5/5, peak philosophy content, “my brain could not shut up” thinking about it
  • “I just got home from work and have to check out the blog immediately after typing this, but here are my thoughts on The Emperor’s Soul (feel free to add it to the blog post!): As usual with Branderson, I absolutely love the magic system. Shai as a character was immediately likable to me and I loved how the magic system and everything concerning to seals and stamps was slowly revealed over the course of the narrative. Big bonus point in my book was that it was inspired by Asian art and I absolutely loved that inspiration and connection. It was an easy book to read, I loved the connection with the Cosmere (HOID!) and the ending was perfect, it was well-rounded but still left room for more story in the future. And it’s an easy book to reread because it’s relatively short (very short for Branderson standards) and is not part of a series but still ties into the Cosmere as a whole. 4.5 / 5 soul stamps because I prefer other Branderson works over this one but it’s still top tier reading material!”

Other books we talked about:

  • Deleted prologe for “The Emperor’s Soul” featuring Hoid: https://www.brandonsanderson.com/the-emperors-soul-deleted-prologue-imperial-fool/
  • If you like to read more Sanderson and are not afraid of big books: Stormlight Archive (brilliant!)+ Mistborn are both set in the Cosmere (universe) and are connected; YA scifi Cytoverse is very enjoyable, Reckoner’s is Sanderson’s take on superheroes, free Sanderson, “Warbreaker”: https://www.brandonsanderson.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Warbreaker_hardcover_1st_ed.pdf; “Elantris” set in the same world as “The Emperor’s Soul” (but not the best Sanderson), overall Sanderson recommendation
  • Sanderson annotations, “director’s cut” for “Warbreaker”, “Way of Kings”, etc.: https://www.brandonsanderson.com/annotation-mistborn-introduction/
  • Sanderson podcast: https://writingexcuses.com/ (parts with Mary Robinette Kowal!)
  • Dreamer Trilogy by Stiefvater (same universe as Raven Cycle), also deals with forgery & art
  • “The Night Circus” by Morgenstein: dreamy, colourful, wonderful Circus
  • Thomas Ligotti short stories, famous for inspiring the “True Detective” series: weird fiction, horror writer, following HP Lovecraft, but modern. Builts upon Lovecraftian horror but modernises it. “He inherited the baroque language, the pessimistic view on humanity”
  • Kingfisher: “Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking”: like a Diana Wynne Jones novel, funny, more middle grade
  • Douglas Adams: “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, very funny, “perfect escapism when you’re stressed”
  • Related recommendation for a series based on Douglas Adams (the books are not that good): “Dirk Gently” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TNXaCBAjpo (has Corgis in it!!!)
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