Chaos

Emperor's Soul General Reactions *spoilers*

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So, as we did with Alloy of Law, we're doing an Emperor's Soul pre-release board. However, since Emperor's Soul is widely available, we're letting anyone into it with no special permission required. Obviously this board will contain spoilers, so if you haven't read it, steer clear! :) We'll be moving topics in this board to the main Sel forum after November 1st.

Now for the people who have read it, what did you think? I personally thought Brandon nailed it. This book was awesome.

As a cosmere nerd, too, this book had so much awesome. Clear definitions of the Realms? Heck yes.

Thoughts you guys?

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It was just so awesome. I can't even really describe how all the little things that Brandon put into it fit just right. Gaotona burning Shai's book was just so right. Forgery is one of my new favorite magic systems, the ability reinvent oneself for certain situations was so awesome. I enjoyed the Derethi priest Shai bumped into and when she was taking down the skeletals as Shaizan it was amazing. I also enjoyed the Reo Shai carved on the wall.

All in all it was simply magnificent and I can't wait to really delve into all the things we found out here.

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I really enjoyed it. I'm not quite sure if I'd go as far as to say new favorite magic system, because some of the others are really awesome to read about, but Forgery is definitely the magic system of Brandon's I'd pick to use myself.

Aside from the story itself, which I thought was very nicely plotted, I also really liked the discussion on art and craftsmanship that was worked in there--the idea that good craftsmanship in itself is a sort of artistic merit. I just personally really appreciated that.

I'm annoyed that it was short only in that I'd like to read more of this part of the world, these characters. The plotting itself was about perfect, it didn't feel like it was cut short at all, nor did it seem any longer than it needed to be.

The forging-of-people aspect has given me a renewed interest in finishing Dollhouse ...

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The plotting and pacing of this one was perfect for the shorter format. I read Legion earlier this year and the pacing wasn't this good. I have high hopes for Brandon's shorter works in the future.

And thanks for generating a spoiler forum! I didn't want to dicuss stuff before the official release date.

Btw - My brother just read the first line of chapter 1 and...

Brother: "She counted forty-three kinds of stone? That's insane!"

Me: "It could be worse."

Bro: "How?"

Me: "She hasn't named them all yet."

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Just an immediate reaction is that its quite excellent. Superbly paced (I agree with the criticisms about Legion) and lean. I was satisfied when I finished it (not that I didn't want more) instead of feeling like I'd just barely begun.

Although I intentionally tried not to "over Cosmere" it, and so haven't thought many of the impacts of its Realmatics through, Murphy necessitates that I anticipate further thought resulting in terrible things happening to my pet Realmatic theory: but I'll try to forgive TES that flaw. :)

Edited by Kurkistan
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I agree that the pacing was just right, particularly in compared to Legion. When I finished Legion I didn't think I had actually finished it and kept looking for the other half...

The details of Forgery were amazing. The only other systems that contain near the same amount of possible detail are AonDor and possibly soulcasting, and we don't have as much detail (at least in some areas) on those.

The forging-of-people aspect has given me a renewed interest in finishing Dollhouse ...

DO IT. *ahem* Sorry, that was my compulsive need to share good stories coming through... Joss Whedon is one of my favorite storytellers behing Brandon Sanderson.

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As expected, the book was wonderful. Part of it was, of course, because Brandon is such an awesome writer, he can whip out a brilliant short story during a plane flight. The other part was a little more personal, I guess - this year has been very Chinese-influenced for me, at least as far as reading is concerned. A couple of the Ender books I read recently had a very strong Chinese character, World of Warcraft's new expansion has a strong Chinese theme in it, and now The Emperor's Soul feature what I understand is a mix between Chinese and Thai culture.

But personal stuff aside... Forgery is definitely a very interesting magic system. I love the scholarly approach required for it. I've always been a sucker for magic systems that rely more on knowledge than on innate talent. Shai's multi-level planning was also a very nice touch. I couldn't figure out her relationship with Gaotona (and his relationship with her) until the very end. Both of them look sincere and plotting at the same time. I half expected the Arbiter to turn out being a Forger himself (in fact, it looked like he has a little more knowledge about the subject that he admits...). All in all, I am happy I read it. Legion wasn't nearly enough Brandon in my system for this long year.

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Loved it! My friend handed it today in class and I didn't get any work done until I finished it. I really enjoyed the magic system, and it was interesting to have a smaller Sanderson book to read. I now have a bunch of ideas in my head, but I need to reread Elantris to figure out some of them.

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The first couple of chapters left me a little cold, not sure if I liked what was happening.

Then Shai had her first one-on-one conversation with Gaotona. Of course, their relationship is the meat of the story right there, so it shouldn't be a surprise that that's where things began zipping. I went through the end of the story, barely stopping.

Amazing.

At first, I though that forging was too powerful and didn't belong on Sel. Then I realized that Forging is, in many ways, like a limited application of AonDor. AonDor can turn garbage into food and sick people into healthy ones, with the change permanent and no need to leave the Aon standing. Forging can do essentially the same type of changes, but with the "Aon" permanent and the transformation limited to "plausible". Very interesting magic system. It's biggest limitation (the most important thing about it!) is that it is very time and study intensive. Because it shares that with Aon Dor, they really do belong together.

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I just read it today in my local Barnes and Noble, and I was very impressed. I love asian stuff, so the really cool cultural things were the highlight for me. TONS of easter eggs for the Cosmere aware, everything from country shape in magic, actual descriptions of Realmatic theory, The Imperial fool, and those rocks that fell from the sky.

Some really cool anecdotes on art and the ethics of magic, loved that. Forging is absolutely brilliant. I read the acknowledgments, and it seems like Brandon really did get the idea from ancient Chinese stamps, just like I thought. The one piece of art in it was beautiful, the symbols in the top looked like chinese characters do when used on a stamp.

Just a thought, are MaiPon and Jindo like China and Korea? It's interesting to get some tantalizing details about the larger cultural world. Maybe the Tull... something are like the Japanese? Strong warriors in a harsh culture? Or maybe i'm just extrapolating because i'm trying to fit Japan into this, just like usual. Anyway, I am a little peeved that this isn't longer. FAR more interesting than Elantris in my opinion, and I liked Elantris. I'd absolutely love some travel in the Elantris sequels.

,

Anyway, If Mistborn is 47/50 and Elantris is 40/50, this is 42/50. I hate novellas, because their too short, so a score this high from me is really quite amazing. I might have liked it as much as Mistborn if it had been a full size book. Kudos to Brandon for making me like Sel 500 times better.

Edited by Yamato
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I read it in the store, then bought it just to have. :lol: I just couldn't wait until I was at home, since my parents left me there for an hour, but I wanted a copy anyway.

Edited by Yamato
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I just finished, read it all in one sitting this evening. It was awesome! Some of my favorite moments:

"Walls can't think!"

"That doesn't stop them from caring."

Also, the Skeletals, particularly the fact that Brandon Sanderson created an awesome Cosmere magic system that can replicate the effects of necromancy and allow skeletons to attack people with swords.

I actually really enjoy the short length, because I can read the whole thing in one sitting without having to feel guilty about not getting anything else done that day. :)

Edited by LightReader
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Undoubtedly his best short novel so far.....The plot pacing was fantastic, on par with Jim Butcher atleast!! Finished the novel in a single sitting. And interesting tidbits on realmatic theory too. The magic system though seemed a mish-mash of other systems.....it had a bit of soulcasting, some awakening(the skeletons), some Elantrian Aon-Dor.

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i'm ridiculously happy that people on sel that arent hoid know about realmatics. although if it's set thirty years after elantris does that mean hoid travelled to and fro meanwhile (i can't see him sticking around in a place for too long) and i'm still intrigued about the sel/shadesmar flaw and how he overcomes it.

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I like the story in itself, and I rated it five stars on Goodreads, but one thing I felt could have been done better was Shai just did not seem written as a female character. Throughout, I felt the role was written for a male, and then changed to female without going back. Vin, Sarene, Vivenna, Siri, and Shalan were all much better written as female. I realize there isn't the amount of space in a shorter work, but it just did not feel right to me.

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I read it then I immediately read it again. As you said, Chaos, he *nailed* it.

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I enjoyed it.

I was surprised by how much it delved into Realmatics, explaining Soulstamping led to the most description we've gotten of the Spiritual Realm so far.

I'm not entirely sure about what has happened to the titular Emperor's soul. I don't believe in real world versions of things like souls and an afterlife, but the Cosmere versions of such things seem to be getting more defined as more books are written. So, did the Emperor go on to the afterlife after the assassination attempt, or is he trapped by his still-living body? I'd guess the former... So what happens, when 40-50 years down the line, after having his body stamped daily with the Soul Forgery, the body itself expires. Perhaps nothing? Then again, given Shai's thoughts about an imprint being left after the multitude of stampings, maybe a new Soul will have been created. Which means that in the afterlife, there will be two remarkably similar people.

I also keep wanting to compare and contrast Soulstamping with Soulcasting. To sum it up, Stamping has both more limitations and greater potential. The Stamping is much more easily reversible. Reversing Soulcasting appears to be impossible. Stamping requires great knowledge of subject, and can be described as "convincing the Spiritual aspect of a subject to temporarily behave differently." Casting requires very little to no knowledge of the subject, and can be described as "bribing the Cognitive aspect of a subject to permanently become different." So what happen if Soulcast a stone into a loaf of bread, and then try to Soulstamp that bread? Could you easily change it into a different type of rock? Or would it be as impossible as Forging an ordinary baked loaf of bread into stone? It seems to me that even if you change the Cognitive aspect, the Spiritual aspect should remain, at least in part.

Did Hoid cause the Emperor's attempted assassination in addition to Shai's imprisonment? Or was he merely making use of it? I have been giving him the benefit of the doubt and thinking of him as a neutral or helpful character, but maybe he actually has a "for the greater good" mentality.

She was getting close now. Close to understanding the emperor, close to having the puzzle come together. Whenever she neared the end of a project—a painting, a large-scale soul Forgery, a sculpture—there came a moment in the process where she could see the entire work, even if it was far from finished. When that moment came, in her mind’s eye, the work was complete; actually finishing it was almost a formality.
When I read this I wondered if these were Brandon's own thoughts on writing books.

“The changes aren’t—”

“Aren’t permanent,” he said. “Yes, so you keep saying.” He stretched out his arm for her to stamp. “However, it makes me wonder. One can cut the body, and it will heal—but do it over and over again in the same spot, and you will scar. The soul cannot be so different.”

“Except, of course, that it’s completely different,” Shai said, stamping his arm.

From earlier in the same chapter, this scene reminds me of Vivenna's conversations about Breaths and Drabs with Denth and Vasher in Warbreaker. Basically, the initiate makes some comment, which is dismissed by the adept. In the annotations and Q&As, Brandon reveals Vivenna was more right than she was being given credit for. I'm pretty sure it's the same here. It also ties in with Shai's later thoughts about what sort of Spiritual impression might be left after continuous stamping on the Emperor.
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It struck me that Shai seems to actually know what is going on with Realmantics to a major extent, although ironically she doesn't know as much about her own magic system as Raoden knows about his. For instance, she doesn't realize it's geographically based.

I also kind of have to wonder about the external interactions of Forging. Apparently, it rewrites the target's personal history. So does this have any ripple effects? We probably wouldn't notice any external effects from Shai's work, since anything that would be severely altered by her changes would cause the stamp to not take, but there's a lot of "rules" that could be overcome with raw power in Allomancy. If someone with Inquisitor brawl Vin power levels used Forging to change the entire palace by making an ancient siege successful, would they alter the historical records that say it hadn't been? Also, what physical changes, especially to people, revert? The Essence stamps revert, but would an "on fire" stamp revert?

This book also provides some more fuel for the power ranking of Cosmere magic systems. Forging can manage some pretty dramatic changes, but it's a lot of work to set up and the results can't defy physical laws, and even getting a very temporary change to take requires some degree of study. Plus, while Shai managed to pretty effectively take down an experienced guard and a batch of skeletals with the Shaizan stamp, any Mistborn could have swatted her aside even without Atium, and I wouldn't fancy her chances against a Thug. It seems to feed into a general pattern where most systems can do more versatile and possibly more effective things than Allomancy, but Allomancers can do stuff a whole lot more easily and faster, and can kill the users of other systems as long as they aren't walking into a trap or possibly even if they are.

I wonder if Forging is properly a distinct magic system from AonDor. We've got two Shards and had three magic systems, with Forging making four. It's based on physically drawn runes and appears to require devotion to percision and art, so I wonder if it's just the local region's AonDor. Shai says anyone can do it, but certainly no one in Kae that we know of does.

There is a gyorn in the palace. There is a gyorn in the palace. No one in the palace seems to realize the significance of a gyorn in the palace. Somehow, Elantris resurgent or not, I don't feel too confident Shai's effort to reform the empire via the stamp is going to have time to play out. Also, why is there a gyorn in the palace?

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It struck me that Shai seems to actually know what is going on with Realmantics to a major extent, although ironically she doesn't know as much about her own magic system as Raoden knows about his. For instance, she doesn't realize it's geographically based.

I also kind of have to wonder about the external interactions of Forging. Apparently, it rewrites the target's personal history. So does this have any ripple effects? We probably wouldn't notice any external effects from Shai's work, since anything that would be severely altered by her changes would cause the stamp to not take, but there's a lot of "rules" that could be overcome with raw power in Allomancy. If someone with Inquisitor brawl Vin power levels used Forging to change the entire palace by making an ancient siege successful, would they alter the historical records that say it hadn't been? Also, what physical changes, especially to people, revert? The Essence stamps revert, but would an "on fire" stamp revert?

My feeling from Shai's discussion was that Forging essentially convinces the object's spiritual aspect that it had a different history, which then changes its cognitive/physical aspect to match. Thus the effect occurs only on the targeted object, and only as long as the stamp holds. There is no paradox because history itself did not actually change; only the Forged objects memory of its own history. Thus there are absolutely no ripple effects at all.

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I'm a bit dubious of that because of the requirement that the test subject have known the emperor well. It seems that the cognitive or spiritual aspect of other objects alters how an object responds to a stamp. So if the cognitive aspects of other objects can cause a stamp to be rejected, could a sufficiently powerful and incompatible stamp cause backlash, forcing the related objects to change instead of being rejected due to them?

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I'm a bit dubious of that because of the requirement that the test subject have known the emperor well. It seems that the cognitive or spiritual aspect of other objects alters how an object responds to a stamp. So if the cognitive aspects of other objects can cause a stamp to be rejected, could a sufficiently powerful and incompatible stamp cause backlash, forcing the related objects to change instead of being rejected due to them?

I don't think that there is such a thing as a "powerful" stamp. The only differentiation we've seen has been plausibility. That plausibility has been somewhat dependent on complexity, but it seems that plausibility is really the only thing that matters at the end of the day. If a stamp that makes a desk shinier isn't "powerful" enough to change the world, then no stamp, no matter the complexity, will be any more powerful.

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I don't think that there is such a thing as a "powerful" stamp. The only differentiation we've seen has been plausibility. That plausibility has been somewhat dependent on complexity, but it seems that plausibility is really the only thing that matters at the end of the day. If a stamp that makes a desk shinier isn't "powerful" enough to change the world, then no stamp, no matter the complexity, will be any more powerful.

There may be such a thing as a powerful stamp, but in my opinion, the first barrier to break down would be the plausibility requirements, not the causality requirements. That is, if you somehow created a stamp that was much more powerful than the run-of-the-mill stamp, you could rewrite a palace into believing it had been sacked three hundred years ago. The key point of my argument is, that the only thing that would be affected is the palace (e.g. the unit people think of as being the palace, and thus how the palace views itself), not the people who live in it or things which are not generally viewed as being part of the palace.

I'm a bit dubious of that because of the requirement that the test subject have known the emperor well. It seems that the cognitive or spiritual aspect of other objects alters how an object responds to a stamp. So if the cognitive aspects of other objects can cause a stamp to be rejected, could a sufficiently powerful and incompatible stamp cause backlash, forcing the related objects to change instead of being rejected due to them?

When testing a stamp on people, the only thing that is changed is the person stamped. When Shai stamped Gaotona, Shai didn't suddenly start thinking that Gaotona really had been Emperor. Just Gaotona did. The fact that the changes took at all were caused by Gaotona's familiarity with the Emperor, but there is no indication from these that the effects flowed at all beyond the item (person) so stamped.

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I just finished and loved it! I agree with other people on here that the burning of the book at the end was very appropriate; and I also loved the comments from Brandon about the writing process at the end, which I think was especially fitting in this book, given the nature of Forgery. I was a bit confused throughout on how exactly she had forged her own soul (I thought perhaps this meant she had a dark moment in her backstory), but it made sense at the end. I could definitely stand to see more of this sort of story in the future--but only after we get the next Stormlight Archives book, because I'm going crazy waiting! ;)

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Just got the book this morning, and now finished with it. It was excellent, definitely a worthy addition to the rest of the cosmere.

Apart from describing the the realms and all that, the idea of forgery is intriguing. It gives something an alternate history, changing it... But unlike something like lightweaving, the change it effects is real and in the case of inanimate objects even permanent. And forging oneself temporarily has some interesting implications.

The restored and slightly improved emperor was a very satisfying conclusion.

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