The Emperor’s Soul

When Shai is caught replacing the Moon Scepter with her nearly flawless forgery, she must bargain for her life. An assassin has left the Emperor Ashravan without consciousness, a circumstance concealed only by the death of his wife. If the emperor does not emerge after his hundred-day mourning period, the rule of the Heritage Faction will be forfeit and the empire will fall into chaos.

Shai is given an impossible task: to create—to Forge—a new soul for the emperor in less than one hundred days. But her soul-Forgery is considered an abomination by her captors. She is confined to a tiny, dirty chamber, guarded by a man who hates her, spied upon by politicians, and trapped behind a door sealed in her own blood. Shai’s only possible ally is the emperor’s most loyal councillor, Gaotona, who struggles to understand her true talent.

Time is running out for Shai. Forging, while deducing the motivations of her captors, she needs a perfect plan to escape…


“Sanderson, the best-selling author of the “Mistborn Trilogy” and The Way of Kings, has set this novella in the same world as Elantris, one of his earlier novels, but it is totally independent. Fantasy fans will love both the compelling story and the creative magical setting.”

Library Journal

“Sanderson delivers a thoughtful yet exciting read that is difficult to put down and save for later.”

Strange Horizons

“[B]etween the commissioned volumes drawing Robert Jordan’s Wheel Of Time series to a close, [Sanderson]’s taken a break to pen THE EMPEROR’S SOUL, a novella that shows off his impressive ability to build worlds and characters […] Sanderson is a pro at creating magic systems.”

The Onion/A.V. Club

“Sanderson proves to be an exceptionally talented writer […] we learn everything we need seamlessly as the story unfolds. His prose is lyrical without ever getting in its own way [...] His characters are fascinating and fully realized. So here is an exception to what seems to have become the rule: THE EMPEROR’S SOUL is one of those rare high fantasies that feels fresh and is filled with a sense of wonder.”

Fantasy & Science Fiction

“Sanderson has a unique, well thought out magical system, thoughtful worldbuilding, and interesting characters […] and if you are not familiar with him, I think this novella would make a great starting place.”

Fantasy Literature (Ruth Arnell)

“[U]nique and fascinating detailed magic systems, interesting settings, likeable characters, and the perfect amount of truly funny humor […] I can heartily recommend.”

Fantasy Literature (Kat Hooper)

“THE EMPEROR’S SOUL is a great example of riveting story and enthralling fantasy, a perfect example of why Sanderson is one of our best fantasy writers writing today.”

Book Banter

”THE EMPEROR’S SOUL has everything that Sanderson is known for: brilliant magic system, moral issues, strong characters, and an action-packed conclusion. It’s fairly short and easy to pick up, yet it is mind-blowing to see how much Sanderson manages to cram into it.”

The Ranting Dragon

“If you’ve wanted to give Brandon Sanderson’s writing a try, but have been given pause by the sheer size of his novels, I highly recommend you track this novella down. I enjoyed this quite a bit.”

Civilian Reader

“Brandon Sanderson continually amazes me with his ability to create utterly unique magic systems and THE EMPEROR’S SOUL was no different […] It was such a well done story even as short as it was. I think it would make an excellent movie too. I highly recommend it to any fantasy fan.”

My Shelf Confessions

“It contains all of Sanderson’s trademarks like an original magic system and great world building with wonderful characters. In the dialogues and the self-reflections you can also find his passion for religion and art.”

Fantastical Imaginations

“This was a fantastic novella […] The magic was absolutely fascinating, and really well thought out […] Sanderson’s writing style was unnoticeable – that is to say, perfect.”

The Cannonball Read

“[A] great, great story that is short, but doesn’t feel short. Nothing is wasted, nothing is lost. A beautiful, wonderful read. Everyone who likes good fantasy should seek this one out.”

The Artolater

“Wow, what a lovely well written novella, I loved it! […] I highly recommend this book for young adults and to anyone who enjoys the Fantasy genre and magic.”

Open Book Society

“THE EMPEROR’S SOUL should keep fans ticking over nicely and is a good ‘stepping on’ point for people like me who have yet to read the bulk of Sanderson’s work.”

Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review

“The strengths of the novella first are ones that readers of Sanderson will come to expect: worldbuilding and magic […] The magic system of forging is new, layered, different, detailed and intriguing. Fans of Sanderson’s work are of course not surprised, as this is a hallmark of his work.”

Functional Nerds

“The most perfect novella I have ever read.”

Oh Magic Hour

“THE EMPEROR’S SOUL is a delightful read.”

Geeks Under Grace

“This story is beautifully balanced. It’s thrilling. It’s poignant. It’s a countdown to an execution, a heist story, and an essay on art. It’s both character-driven and plot-driven […] Everything is packed perfectly into one small space.”

Rachel Koppendrayer Reviews

“The perfect little summary of how wonderful [Sanderson] is at magic systems and character development and making you think deeply about yourself.”

Stuck in the Stacks

“I highly recommend it, and I suspect it will go on my award ballots this year.”

Brenda Cooper, author of The Creative Fire

Awards & Accolades


Winner 2013 Hugo Award: “Best Novella”


2013 World Fantasy Award Finalist: “Best Novella”


#1 Locus Magazine Bestseller List


Fantastical Imaginations: “Best of 2012”


Oh Magic Hour: “Top Ten Tuesday”