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Why this story is the best

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I find that some of Brandon’s books don’t receive the recognition they should, merely because they are shorter and less involved than the Stormlight Archives. Don't get me wrong, I love that series, but lots of people ignore everything else. I’d like to try to remedy that, for the Emperor's Soul at least.
I'm not sure about other readers, but for me reading is all about the characters. I don't often try my hand at writing, but when I do I find that I can't plan my characters, because when I do they no longer fit the plot. They feel forced, because that's what they end up being. I have to take a different approach. I allow my subconsciousness to create the character that will react correctly to the plot; Instead of having the character do certain things, I set up a situation and write down their reaction to that- all without consciously knowing the character. The strange part of it all is, it works. The correct character sets up a story for either success or failure. The plot itself is important, but not nearly as. Stories are centered around characters. The stories are told through them, focused around other people, and the viewpoint character's feelings influence the reader's perception of events and people. A good writer can saturate a book with hints of a character's personality without even a sentence describing it.
When I read the Emperor's Soul, I was immediately captured by the magic system. Not only is it artistic in nature- something I imagine most readers would enjoy, as writing is itself an art- it's very focus is centered around souls and the ability to understand them. That is, in effect, the very essence of reading as well- at least to me. The connection I felt with Shai was instantaneous, and only continued to grow as she was required to search for the personality not just of people around her, but through words the person had written in description of events in their life. The parallel between our situations was not lost to me, as I began to feel a bond deeper to Shai than any I had ever felt with anyone. Through that, I felt a bond with Brandon- I will probably never know him, but I’ve always held that a writer's books can often tell you as much or more about them than it can about the characters. The most amazing scene, however, was of course when Gaotona held the book in his arms. The connection with him, though not as complete as the one with Shai, was magnified because of the one with Shai as both I and Gaotona sat marveling at the book. Meanwhile, the more removed part of my brain sat marveling at the book I held in my arms. In other words, it was a double whammy.
I found it ironic, then, when I turned to the postscript and read the words written there. Write what you know. I'm sure by now you'll understand the types of thoughts that were running through my mind at this time. Brandon, however, wasn't referring to how similar forgery was to writing characters. The point of all this is, of course, to try to help you realize that internal struggle is what makes a story. The plotline itself may have been boring, with the viewpoint character locked in a single room. But to connect so deeply… that's the mark of a truly amazing story. I can't change your personality with these words, so you might still find the Emperor's Soul to be boring, but I hope that I've been able to nudge you towards having a certain, more favorable, attitude toward this book. Thank you for your time. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to explain this all that well.

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You've pretty much summed up why people who like the story, well, like it.

I was reading it earlier today in my copy of Arcanum Unbounded.  It really is a three-way character study (Shai, Gaotona, and the emperor) and I think it works beautifully.

Incidentally, if you want to learn more about what Brandon thinks about all of this (plot vs. character) you should totally check out the writing excuses podcast.  They talk about different authors approaches to creating stories and what works and doesn't work for different people.

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I'd argue about Emperor's Soul being his best book -wrote my own essay on that subject- but I can definitely understand the appeal of Emperor's Soul; I certainly wouldn't consider what you wrote here to be a waste of time, either. I love heaaring different perspective on things!

Nothing much else to say. Upvotes, though, because I do like what you have to say on the subject.

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Emperor's Soul is one of my favorites as well, pretty much for the very reasons you've explained. I didn't find it boring at all though, honestly. If I had to put my top three favorite cosmere series' in order, they would be

1: Misborn Series

2: Stormlight Archive

3: The Emperor's Soul

It's this story that I absolutely love and highly recommend to others, not just because it's a cosmere novella or because it was written by Brandon Sanderson, but because it's an absolutely beautiful story with some of the most real characters I've ever found in any book. I kind of agree with you in the opinion that this story is the best.

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