Profile: Epic Fantasy, Short Story
Okay, I lied. There was one more Sanderson book. Sorry. The Emperor’s Soul is a short novella set in the same world as Elantris but removed from the events of that book by significant distance and an unspecified amount of time. It is a very different sort of work than Sanderson’s typical epic fantasy fare. As dictated by its size, it is a very focused story with only one protagonist and one storyline. But there is some surprising depth contained in this small package. At its heart, The Emperor’s Soul is about understanding people, and in a roundabout way, about the process of writing characters; creating people.
The central figure of The Emperor’s Soul is Wan ShaiLu, called Shai. With two minor exceptions, the entirety of the novella is told from her perspective. Betrayed by her partner in crime, a man known only as The Fool, Shai is coerced into undertaking the daunting task of magically recreating the personality of a brain dead emperor. Under the threat of death, and a rapidly approaching deadline, she must accomplish two impossible tasks: understanding another human being utterly and completely, and escaping the powerful forces that will kill her whether she succeeds or not.