The Unknown Novel

Emperor's Soul, Good or Amazing?

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What did you think of Emperor's Soul? Does anyone dislike it? Why? If you liked/loved it, any particular reason?

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2 hours ago, The Unknown Order said:

What did you think of Emperor's Soul? Does anyone dislike it? Why? If you liked/loved it, any particular reason?

I liked it, despite its short length. the magic system was interesting, the characters made creative and logical decisions based on their motives, the plot was simple but had interesting moments. it's certainly a strong piece of work.

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I really enjoyed the unique nature of the soul stamps and intrigue 

It was great I thought. I might be hesitant to say "amazing" as I would reserve that for other things, but it was great IMO

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I thought it was great and was a different format than other books 

but 

spoilers

Spoiler

In the beginning shai stresses that creating a stamp in 100 days in nigh impossible 

and then out of seemingly nowhere ( and a time skip) she accomplishes her task in outstanding fashion 

I guess I just felt lied to about the timeline

 

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I enjoyed it overall. I'm interested in learning more about Soul Stamping in future books, so I would say that's a positive. However, it did skip a lot, and the short length made it feel...hurried at times. I would definitely read more though.

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I like it a lot! As for criticisms of Emperor's Soul, I think this guy has some good points:

 

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Emperor's Soul has the most interesting Cosmere magic system so far, in my opinion. I would definitely go with amazing. I may be all alone, but I'm sticking to it!

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I think it's Brandon's best work that's not Stormlight or Mistborn Era 1. The way it tackles its themes (like the nature of art) is very thought-provoking, and it also makes them matter - because these themes (and the disagreements about them) mean a lot to the characters and their relationships (Gaotona and Shai, in particular). Shai is also one of Brandon's most nuanced characters. She feels very human to me.

It's also just a well-rounded story and shows that great fantasy with outstanding world-building and interesting magic doesn't have to be huge and epic - you can accomplish all of that with just one room, if you're really good at it. Also, while I adore Brandon's twists, I really enjoyed reading a story of his that's suspenseful while not relying on reveals as much as most of his other work. It was kind of refreshing.

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I think it's amazing. Gaotona's part of the epilogue always gets me.

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I like it, its really good, even though I'm a fast reader and it was really short I'd say it was amazing

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For me, it was whatever you'd call better than amazing. The ideas about art and forgery; the trustworthiness of diaries and history books; and the formation of a personality were all fascinating to me. 

For me the length was just right, too.

And with that final line, a shiver shot right down my spine.

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ES was fine.

Nothing extrodinary about it though.

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I have a lot of love for Emperor's Soul, in large part because it was how I got my wife and two of my three sisters invested in Brandon Sanderson. Its short length and standalone nature makes it less intimidating than Brandon's other works, its prose is a bit stronger than most of his work, and the magic system showcases one of his major strengths as an author.

Then once you've got them in for a penny...! *evil laughter*

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On 2/3/2021 at 2:36 PM, The Unknown Order said:

What did you think of Emperor's Soul? Does anyone dislike it? Why? If you liked/loved it, any particular reason?

It is one of my favorite books. It matches the magic theme of the planet where communication is the medium for it. I loved the interplay and ultimately the artistry of the story and hope to see more interactions on the planet.

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I just finished rereading Emperor's Soul this weekend and I think it is among Brandon's finest works.  In a short story, Brandon is able to deeply develop three or four different characters (Shai, Gaotona, Ashravan, and Frava).  He weaves in this interesting magic system, and explains it well in the context of the story.  He does a lot of philosophizing on the nature of art and artistry.  And all throughout it's a story with some real stakes and tensions as well.  It doesn't hit the same emotional notes for me that Stormlight or Mistborn do, but in terms of just sheer quality it might be his finest work for how much it is able to pack into such a small package.

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Having worked on a screenplay adaptation of this story, I've spent a lot of time with it - which tends to make both its good qualities and its flaws stand out more to me. However in my opinion, the books attributes definitely outweigh its issues. Oh, and before you read more... spoiler alert.

The biggest flaw for me is the fact that despite Shai arguing at the start that the project is essentially impossible, we don't really feel her struggling to complete her work on time. While it could definitely be argued that that isn't what the story is really about, I do feel like it still results in a slight lack of forward momentum and tension. I also find that people tend to complain that the primary antagonists - Frava, the Bloodsealer, and Zu - feel rather flat (though I personally love the Bloodsealer), and while the Bloodsealer and Zu do get their showdowns at the end, Frava and her counter-forger unfortunately just sort of fade into the background without ever really becoming true threats.

Those issues all presented interesting challenges when trying to adapt the story. However, one of the advantages of stretching a novella to fill a full 2 hours is that it lets you take time to flesh things out, letting me do things like flesh out the Arbiters and the Emperor a bit and try to add more urgency to the constructing of the Emperor's soulstamp. I also realized early on that the story also lends itself to being told in an interesting non-linear style, which was a blast to write!

As to whether the story is "Good" or "Amazing". I don't know what exactly the qualifiers are for either status, but in my opinion The Emperor's Soul stands as one of Brandon's masterpieces and definitely worthy of standing with the original Mistborn trilogy and TWOK. The deftness with which he weaves its unique themes and magic system are deeply compelling and makes it a great tour de force of what Brandon can do when he's bringing his "A" game. And as a sucker for plot design, I really love how beautiful the story's symmetry is, with lots of powerful moments like Shai's burning of the painting being mirrored by Gaotona's burning of her journal.

So I guess that makes it "Amazing" in my book.

Edited by Quoth
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On 24/12/2021 at 1:40 PM, Quoth said:

Having worked on a screenplay adaptation of this story, I've spent a lot of time with it - which tends to make both its good qualities and its flaws stand out more to me. However in my opinion, the books attributes definitely outweigh its issues. Oh, and before you read more... spoiler alert.

Spoiler

The biggest flaw for me is the fact that despite Shai arguing at the start that the project is essentially impossible, we don't really feel her struggling to complete her work on time. While it could definitely be argued that that isn't what the story is really about, I do feel like it still results in a slight lack of forward momentum and tension. I also find that people tend to complain that the primary antagonists - Frava, the Bloodsealer, and Zu - feel rather flat (though I personally love the Bloodsealer), and while the Bloodsealer and Zu do get their showdowns at the end, Frava and her counter-forger unfortunately just sort of fade into the background without ever really becoming true threats.

Those issues all presented interesting challenges when trying to adapt the story. However, one of the advantages of stretching a novella to fill a full 2 hours is that it lets you take time to flesh things out, letting me do things like flesh out the Arbiters and the Emperor a bit and try to add more urgency to the constructing of the Emperor's soulstamp. I also realized early on that the story also lends itself to being told in an interesting non-linear style, which was a blast to write!

As to whether the story is "Good" or "Amazing". I don't know what exactly the qualifiers are for either status, but in my opinion The Emperor's Soul stands as one of Brandon's masterpieces and definitely worthy of standing with the original Mistborn trilogy and TWOK. The deftness with which he weaves its unique themes and magic system are deeply compelling and makes it a great tour de force of what Brandon can do when he's bringing his "A" game. And as a sucker for plot design, I really love how beautiful the story's symmetry is, with lots of powerful moments like Shai's burning of the painting being mirrored by Gaotona's burning of her journal.

 

So I guess that makes it "Amazing" in my book.

Wow... you took the words out of my mouth. Exactly this is my thinking about TES, although I will add this:

While the rewrite of the prologue was the correct move (and it's amazing that the story begins and ends with Gaotona), it really makes me sad that Brandon didn't include the scene of Hoid talking to Shai in her prison. Literally because of Hoid it is that Shai is incarcerated (and therefore, the story happens), so it is a bit empty that in the official history there is talk about the Fool and Moon Scepter but nothing else.

But let's look at the bright side, even without Hoid showing up, the novella is amazing. Hopefully Brandon will write about Shai again—I think I'm much more excited about a TES sequel than Elantris (which I love, but I think it should stay as a stand-alone book.)

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Rashekin said:

Wow... you took the words out of my mouth. Exactly this is my thinking about TES, although I will add this:

While the rewrite of the prologue was the correct move (and it's amazing that the story begins and ends with Gaotona), it really makes me sad that Brandon didn't include the scene of Hoid talking to Shai in her prison. Literally because of Hoid it is that Shai is incarcerated (and therefore, the story happens), so it is a bit empty that in the official history there is talk about the Fool and Moon Scepter but nothing else.

But let's look at the bright side, even without Hoid showing up, the novella is amazing. Hopefully Brandon will write about Shai again—I think I'm much more excited about a TES sequel than Elantris (which I love, but I think it should stay as a stand-alone book.)

Yeah I really loved the scene between Shai and Hoid, and while I think it makes sense not to start with it, I do think it could make for a good "after credits scene" in the film. That's actually why I have Hoid in a jester mask in the screenplay, so that we could have a face reveal in the after credits. 

Edited by Quoth
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The Emporer's Soul is in my opinion one of the best Brandon Sanderson stories. The magic system is so complex and so simple at the same time. The characters are fleshed-out and have believable motives. I read it in Arcanum Unbounded, and it was my second favourite part, only behind Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell.

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On 1/14/2022 at 0:51 PM, The Sibling said:

The Emporer's Soul is in my opinion one of the best Brandon Sanderson stories. The magic system is so complex and so simple at the same time. The characters are fleshed-out and have believable motives. I read it in Arcanum Unbounded, and it was my second favourite part, only behind Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell.

Yeah and I would like to see him revisit the world of Shadows for Silence. Because shadows minimal coverage I think it might be ripe for fan fics.

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I really liked it. Mostly because it was such a good example of Brandon's abilities. No other author could pull off writing a book with 5-6 characters that takes place in basically 1 room over the course of 100 days. It's fascinating. 

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I haven't read it in a while, but from what I do remember it was really good! Like most of Brandon's stuff, I found it very unique, but this one especially. Every aspect of it was really well done; the plot, the characters, the magic. I found it incredibly interesting and I would really like to see more stories take place on this part of Sel and with the magic system of the soulstamps.

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I think after I read Emperor's Soul, it made me wonder more and more what it was like for Brandon to finish The Wheel of Time. Shai delving into Ashravan's past, figuring out why he did what he did, reading his personal notes, then trying to recreate Ashravan as best she could and then tweaking things here and there to make her work into a better whole... that seems pretty similar to what Brandon did by looking through Robert Jordan's notes and trying to recreate an entire cast and world to match how people remembered The Wheel of Time. He probably took character sketches or snippets to Jordan's associates to see if what he wrote was familiar to the original work. For me, that added layer made Emperor's Soul a remarkable book. It's also ironically a commentary for the writer attempting to create realistic characters, but we probably don't think about that because Shai and Gaotona feel real. There's so many layers to how you can look at the book, and even down to the way that Shai perceives the world and considers the ramifications of everything happening outside of her little room to genuine wisdom in how you treat people or think of people, all of those make it an amazing book in my opinion. 

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6 hours ago, Duxredux said:

I think after I read Emperor's Soul, it made me wonder more and more what it was like for Brandon to finish The Wheel of Time. Shai delving into Ashravan's past, figuring out why he did what he did, reading his personal notes, then trying to recreate Ashravan as best she could and then tweaking things here and there to make her work into a better whole... that seems pretty similar to what Brandon did by looking through Robert Jordan's notes and trying to recreate an entire cast and world to match how people remembered The Wheel of Time. He probably took character sketches or snippets to Jordan's associates to see if what he wrote was familiar to the original work. For me, that added layer made Emperor's Soul a remarkable book. It's also ironically a commentary for the writer attempting to create realistic characters, but we probably don't think about that because Shai and Gaotona feel real. There's so many layers to how you can look at the book, and even down to the way that Shai perceives the world and considers the ramifications of everything happening outside of her little room to genuine wisdom in how you treat people or think of people, all of those make it an amazing book in my opinion. 

Wow. I never noticed that before, but you're totally right.

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@Duxredux really cool conecction

My friends and I are doing a book club this summer, and this is going to be the book for my pick. Hopefully I can get some people interested in the Cosmere.

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