Conspiracy, politics, and a difference of opinion over the Forgers craft. The Emperor's Soul is the first book that I've read by Brandon Sanderson and it is a good one. The back and forth debate between Shai and Gaotona, the longest serving Councillor/arbiter for the Emperor, really fleshes out the story for me as each scores points with the other. So does Shai's interactions with Frava - each knows where the other stands, after a fashion, although it may be more that Shai lets Frava keep her illusions. The story itself was a great read, but what made it a richer read for me was reading the inspiration for the story and how it came about.
Shai is a Forger and is caught trying to replace a work of art with a nearly perfect forgery. The Emperor's arbiters have a deal for her: Her life for her Forging the Emperor a new soul. The deal is not all it may seem, but then Shai is wilier than she lets on. She considers her craft an art, her captors consider it an abomination. In the end, who will come out the winner?
A heretic thief is the empire’s only hope in this fascinating tale that inhabits the same world as the popular novel, Elantis. Shai is a Forger, a foreigner who can flawlessly copy and re-create any item by rewriting its history with skillful magic. Condemned to death after trying to steal the emperor’s scepter, she is given one opportunity to save herself. Though her skill as a Forger is considered an abomination by her captors, Shai will attempt to create a new soul for the emperor, who is almost dead. Probing deeply into his life, she discovers Emperor Ashravan’s truest nature—and the opportunity to exploit it. Her only possible ally is one who is truly loyal to the emperor, but councilor Gaotona must overcome his prejudices to understand that Shai’s forgery is as much artistry as it is deception. Brimming with magic and political intrigue, this deftly woven fantasy delves into the essence of a living spirit.