Last night I finished reading The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson and I have to say before I write one more word that I loved it. This is only a short novella but wow, such a great story and the character building is excellent. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book and I will without a doubt be reading it again.
Firstly, a brief outline of the story. At the start of the story, Shai is being held prisoner with the threat of imminent execution hanging over her head. She’s a forger- similar to how we understand the concept except using magic Shai carves seals which when stamped onto an object change it’s appearance. It’s based on the concept of everything, every day objects, having a memory and being able to manipulate this to change the appearance of the object. Shai’s captors however have other plans. They offer Shai the opportunity to stay alive. In return however she needs to forge something that seems impossible. The Emperor lies unmoving in his rooms following an attempted assassination and his advisors have an unusual proposition for Shai. They want her to forge a soul. Never attempted before Shai has no idea if this will work and so as to add a little more stress the task must be completed in three months.
Why did I love this story. To be frank I can’t really pin it down. It’s not like there’s an epic story taking place here after all. But I just really enjoyed it and do we always need an epic story? Apparently not. Shai is wonderful to read about. Seeing her take on this task, watching her inner turmoil about whether to attempt to escape or see the task through to eventually becoming overtaken with the overwhelming desire to succeed. The other characters are also easy to imagine, Gaotang particularly was easy to get along with and Zu was absolutely awful, just as he was supposed to be. What I liked about the way Sanderson wrote Zu was the way he stayed true to his character. At the start I had that ‘hello’ feeling – I was assuming that Zu would eventually turn his feelings around from hate to love but he didn’t and I love that Sanderson didn’t fall into that particular cliche.
I think for a short story, clocking in at under two hundred pages, this is so beautifully self contained. It doesn’t feel as though anything is missing. Sometimes when you read a novella like this you feel unsatisfied but that definitely isn’t the case here. Obviously I could have continued to read about Shai because I was enjoying her story so much but as it is this doesn’t feel incomplete, it also doesn’t feel as though it’s been pared down. It’s a perfectly sized package. It’s well written, the world building is simple but effective and the ending is awesome.
In case it’s not obvious already, I did really love this. I’ve probably not given a very articulate review of exactly why but I hope that if you read this, in spite of my incoherent babble, you’ll go ahead and pick it up too.
I’m adding this to my Once Upon a Time event being hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings under the auspices of fantasy. Go and check out the event details here and I hope you can join in with the fun. Happy reading.
So today we finish the final chapters in Book Two of Sanderson’s Mistborn series. The previous week’s discussions have been hosted by Carl, Grace, Sue and Adam and their posts can be read as follows:
If you haven’t read the Well of Ascension the above discussions and next few chapters will contain spoilers so be aware!
I find it amazing how Sanderson seems to have managed to pack so much into these final few chapters. Sometimes I feel like the end of a book can have a rushed feel as though the author was in a hurry to finish. Not so here. We started the final chapters with Vin and Elend newly married and leaving the City under the premise of searching for the Well of Ascension. The remainder of the crew were left behind at Luthadel to figure out how to hold the City against what seemed like an impossible threat from the Koloss and Straff’s armies. There were a few surprises here – firstly that Tindwyl refused to go along with the party leaving and secondly Allrianne who seemed to be using this as a way of returning to her father to try and persuade him to help Luthadel (or to help Breezy!) I can’t help feeling now, given the eventual outcome that Sazed’s idea to send Vin and Elend away, whilst made with the best intentions, was a poor decision. The eventual war that the Koloss raged on the City was horrible and it was pretty grim reading about all the casualties not to mention it all seemed so overwhelming and helpless. I suppose a part of me can’t help wondering if Sazed made this decision also as a way of trying to save Tindwyl and yet in the end it seems like if Vin had been in the City from the beginning the deaths of so many may have been avoided. Hindsight hey! How did you feel about Sazed and the rest of the Crew planning to remove Vin and Elend from the City? Also, what did you make of Sazed actually getting involved in the fighting and no longer just standing back and witnessing events? It seems to me he did a remarkable job with very little resources.
Then we had Vin’s return and her discovery about the Koloss – I did think it was a pretty cool moment when Sazed, who finally thought his end had arrived, watched as the Koloss who approached went quiet and parted and Vin stepped out from amongst them! This tiny young girl stepping out of the middle of this group of huge monsters. On reflection I wonder why The Lord Ruler created the Koloss and the Kandra. He built in his little failsafes to keep them under control but given how he controlled the Skaa anyway he didn’t seem to need either as an army? In fact he didn’t seem to use them at all. Perhaps he created them by accident or just as experimentation that went wrong.
The final chapters seemed to reveal quite a bit and yet still leave so many unanswered questions. What was going on with Marsh – was he hearing the same voices that Zane had heard, or more to the point has he now been taken over by something – and is that something the same thing that has now been released from the Well?
What is this entity that has been released and why was it trapped there in the first place, and by who?
What was this mist creature – I can understand the reason why it attacked Elend at the end but who or what is it?
What was this piece of metal that Elend swallowed at the end that seemed to turn him into a mistborn – is that where the whole allomancy ‘thing’ began. Would this metal work on everyone?
And, why are the Steel Inquisitors now attacking the Terris people?
Oh dear, so many questions! I think I’ve finished the book with more queries than I started!!
Finally, how much did you enjoy this book and how does it compare to book number one?
Just finished reading the concluding chapters of Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson for the readalong being hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings. This has really been a great book choice for a readalong and has generated such a lot of discussion. Without further ado lets get to this week’s questions – if you haven’t read Final Empire and intend to do so then you might want to stop reading now as spoilers will be contained below.
1. So, what do you think of Kelsier’s plan now? Or his ‘plan within a plan’? How do you feel the late introduction of the kandra and how it fit into Kelsier’s plan?
I was really surprised by the introduction of the Kandra. I knew that Renoux was different and there had been a couple of hints along the way about this but I hadn’t really given it a lot of consideration. I truly never saw that coming at all and was genuinely surprised. Even more so because for one split second I actually thought Kelsier was alive again and was expecting some strange explanation of how this could be so. I must admit I found the fact that the Kandra had had to consume his body in order to become Kel a bit ‘icky’. I couldn’t believe that all along Kel had planned this? I just couldn’t help thinking surely you could have come up with a plan where you didn’t have to die. And now the Kandra is under Vin’s control? Interesting. I guess at the end Kel did become the martyr to the cause and the nudge to provoke the Skaa to uprise.
2. The final section of the book was very Vin-centric. How do you feel about the choices she made and did you have any worries/fears about what might happen to her before everything was resolved?
Well, at first she came across as a little rash just running into action without anything that seemed to resemble a plan. I didn’t blame her though in fact I admired her for it. I suppose for Vin she’d always figured that they would never pull this plan off and she was always anticipating her own death so in her eyes it wasn’t like she had anything to lose. I also felt that finally she had come to the conclusion that she was different and started to have some self belief – I thought that was a really good moment, a sort of turning point. I actually didn’t have any worries about what was going to happen to Vin, even when she was captured. Not because I had everything figured out, far from it, but it just seemed that with Kel dead if Vin followed suit then there would be very little left to take the story forward. I guess I was having one of those smug moments where you think that the hero can’t die when you’re watching a film, usually followed by the hero dying in some horrible way! Part of me was thinking ‘hold on, you didn’t think Kel was going to die’ and look how that ended but then the other part of me was thinking that if Vin died that would be the end because I can’t figure out who the story would then follow. Perhaps we’ll have some more characters introduced in the next book and who knows what will happen! I think all along I thought the Final Empire was going to be exactly that – the final empire – I know that’s rather simplistic but it’s what I always figured the title of the book referred to, although of course it could have two different interpretations. I never really thought that Kel would be the final hero (I didn’t think he would die) but it always felt like he was grooming Vin to be something more so I always thought she would come through in the end.
3. After all that we find out that the Lord Ruler wasn’t the prophesied one after all. Surprised? Had you figured it out? What thoughts do you have about the big reveal, including how it tied into Sazed’s people?
I was very surprised by the eventual reveal. I always thought that the Lord Ruler was not the prophesied one, I thought he was someone who had mistakenly applied the prophecy to himself – I was almost thinking that Vin might be the one the prophecy related to and that was why I was confident that she would defeat him at the end. It was also why I thought he was looking for her. I think during the discussions last week the point had arisen about the Lord Ruler not being the real prophesised one but this point was made in relation to the fact that that his chronicles had stopped abruptly – to be honest, I must admit that I never really thought about that. It just didn’t occur to me that his chronicles had stopped because someone else had taken his place. I thought his chronicles had stopped because he’d fundamentally changed somehow. I don’t know whether I’m just incredibly dense but I found so many surprises at the end of this novel, things that I hadn’t foreseen but I’m really pleased that Sanderson was able to do that. Sometimes I have no problem second guessing what’s going to happen in a book and whilst this might make me feel all pleased with myself momentarily to be honest it’s far preferable to have an ending that I didn’t suspect at all.
4. There was some back and forth about Elend throughout the story and we finally got to see him take a greater stand. Any predictions about what might happen in book two with Elend taking on leadership duties?
I think after all my answers to the above I might as well give up on making predications for the rest of this trilogy! I always liked Elend and I hoped that he would have a chance to prove himself which I think he finally did at the end. I don’t know how he will cope with leadership. He never particularly struck me as someone with leadership abilities but I’m prepared to be surprised by him. And he comes from a house used to running things so maybe some of that leadership will have rubbed off on him.
5. Lastly, provide a little wrap up of your experience with the book. What do you think Sanderson’s strengths are? How does this book stack up against other fantasies you’ve read?
This is my first Sanderson novel. He’s an author that I’ve heard lots of good things about but for some reason have never got into reading. I don’t think this is anything more than a desire on my part not to get into any more lengthy series of ‘BIG’ books. However, I’m really pleased that I’ve had the opportunity to read this as part of a readalong – it makes the whole experience so much more rewarding. I’ve twisted and turned with my opinions on this novel more than a twisty turny thing. Basically this is an excellent book for a group discussion. There are so many elements to it but Sanderson manages to introduce them in a way that is easy to come to grips with and doesn’t come across as a major expo dump. I also love the way that he anticipates what you’re thinking as a reader. I found that I’d be reading some element and thinking ‘but why did such a thing happen?’ and within a couple of paragraphs I usually got the answer. On top of this he’s managed to come up with such a wonderful story, a strange place that we’ve yet got so much to learn about, a well thought out magical system that is unique to anything I’ve read about before and new races of people with amazing abilities. You kind of expect dwarves and elves in fantasy these days and you also kind of feel as though the world in which the fantasy will be set will be earth – none of that is true of this novel. I’m eagerly awaiting our readalong for number 2 and would like to thank Carl for hosting this readalong.
Just finished reading the fourth instalment of the first book in the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson for the readalong challenge being hosted by Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings. Check out the discussions here and although it’s probably a bit late to join in reading this book we are also going to be reading books No.2 and 3 so it’s never too late to join us.
This week’s reading has been so exciting – only one more week before I find out the conclusion! Onto this week’s questions: (Whoops! Forgot to draw your attention to spoilers!!)
1. Well, we finally got our long awaited view of the Lord Ruler, firstly just a brief glimpse during the executions and then during the fight with Kelsier. What do you now think about him and the myth’s surrounding him? And, given his strength do you think he can be beaten?
I’m not sure that I ever really understood that the Lord Ruler was such a very powerful allomancer (or whatever magic it is he’s using). Working his magic over all those people in the crowd during the executions – most peculiar, not to mention extremely demonstrative! Also, he finally did put in an appearance – unfortunately – and he does seem fairly invincible. I was racking my brains for something, some similarity to anything that might give me a clue as to what he is. The nearest I can come to is a book I recently read about immortals who also couldn’t be killed without a great deal of effort. I was also intrigued about the Inquisitors interest in Vin. They are very keen to locate her – clearly the Lord Ruler has something to fear from her but I really don’t know what. Perhaps she will be the one who can use the eleventh metal. Anyway, if I didn’t already think he deserved to die (which I did), executing all those people and then killing Kelsier has certainly not improved my mood towards him at all! Do I think he’s invincible – last week I said I thought he could be beaten and so foolish consistency it may be but I’m going to stick with that theory.
2. We seemed to suffer a number of set backs to the plans this week. The army had already been all but destroyed and following a bit of a rethink/regroup/coming up with a Plan B things still have gone disastrously astray. What do you think the Crew will do now??
Well, the crew already seemed to be losing their will to stick together. But, I can’t help wondering whether Kel’s sacrifice might provoke other people to rise up. Perhaps he will become a martyr. I think Vin is going to have to step up and be tested now and hopefully she’ll be able to hold everyone together.
3. What was your reaction to Kelsier’s response to finding Marsh dead? I can’t help feeling that there are going to be some serious economic repercussions to destroying the crystals – what sort of impact do you think this will have, not just on the nobles but on the Skaa?
I could totally understand his reaction and to a certain extent I was thinking good (in fact I had a bit of a punch the air type of moment) – now he’s going to get some payback! (Which he did by striking out at what would hurt the Lord Ruler most). That being said, I’ve got a bad feeling about this plus the Skaa then got it in the neck again. I think somewhere deep inside I can’t help wondering what the Lord Ruler is using all that Atrium for? He doesn’t come out of his lair very often so surely he can’t be using it all for magic – I can only think he’s using it somehow to keep the mists and the darkness at bay. We might regret not having the atrium. It will certainly have an effect on the nobility – particularly House Venture. I’m not sure about the Skaa – at least they won’t have to work down the mines again?
4. Finally, each week we learn a little bit more of the Lord Ruler’s history. And each week it has a different impact. This week’s snippets had the same impact – I was really interested in the excerpt when he mentions that the Darkness is not as oppressive when higher up in the mountains – do you have any more ideas about the Darkness?
I find these little stories fascinating and fluctuate between thinking the Lord Ruler really did change as a result of his role and the length of time he’s endured and reverting back to thinking he’s a raging monster. Did he really start out relatively normal and become like this or was he always just a raging ego maniac. I wonder why he seems to fear Vin and can’t help thinking maybe there was something in the prophecy that he is trying to hide.
5. (I did have another query – but it might be too much??) I was wondering about Elend and Vin – they’ve also had their ups and downs this week but seem determined to work round them – can you see anything of a future for these two or is there too much history between the nobles and Skaa and too much difference and prejudice between the two?
I was really surprised at first when Elend gave Vin the big elbow – then I remembered he’d been having her followed and thought she was spying on him – even so though I was really shocked – and he was sitting at his family’s table. What the hell is wrong with his dad? What a rat! Anyway, back to the point. I liked the way that Elend then came around to thinking he didn’t mind too much if Vin was just trying to rob him. I also thought it was an eye opening moment when he was trying to help Vin – when he thought she was part of the captured Skaa being taken for execution. I hope they can find a way to make it work and because I like to have a happy ending I’m going to imagine that this is the case! Time will tell.
This week we’ve been reading Chapters 16 to 25 for our group readalong hosted by Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings. Check out the details here and it’s probably not too late to take part or to join in with the discussions if you’ve already read the novel. Questions this week were provided by Grace and be warned not to read further if you don’t want any spoilers.
I’ve really enjoyed this week’s reading and can’t wait for the discussion this week.
1. During the past week there’s been a lot of speculation as to the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. Now that we finally know the answer, does it change anyone’s opinions of the Lord Ruler?
It’s very intriguing. At the start of the readalong I was actually reading the quotes but not really giving them a great deal of attention to be honest. I only went back to check them out because there was speculation about who the quotes were from – at that point I hadn’t even considered that they were from one of the characters we were reading about. I think this is a great way of incorporating another storyline. I’ve had to go back to the beginning to reread the quotes and piece together the little story that’s taking shape. What a great idea. We’re not getting to see the Lord Ruler and so far he’s a big mystery which all adds to the speculation about him but now we have this story within the story it’s really very interesting. I wouldn’t say that learning a little more of the Lord Ruler’s story is making me like him anymore but perhaps it starts to give him a bit more of an identity – you can see that he didn’t start this way and maybe living for two thousand years would be enough to make anybody a bit jaded (no, still don’t like him)!. I certainly want to find out what actually took place and I’m interested by these mists/shadows that are mentioned. Perhaps, the Lord Ruler was the first person to be born a mistborn but without direction he didn’t know how to use his powers or perhaps he found this ‘eleventh’ metal that nobody else seems to know of and has used that to become immortal. It feels to me like Sanderson is now taking us down the path of ‘can we really trust Kelsier’? The Lord Ruler didn’t seem to always be the monster he is now known as and so will Kelsier’s inevitable saviour status corrupt him also. I’m not sure that I believe that at the moment. I can see that Kelsier is becoming a little bit enamoured with his new ‘celebrity’ status but he still seems to listen to the rest of his crew. Anyway, I’m eager to find out – I wonder whether the recently discovered book that Sazed is translating will reveal something important or essential about the Lord Ruler??
2. What did you think of Elend’s group of subversive nobles? Do you think that Kelsier is right to dismiss people who could be potential allies, or is this another case of his anti-nobility biases showing?
I suppose to a certain extent I can’t help thinking Kelsier is not in a strong enough position to dismiss any potential allies, but, saying that is easier said than done. It would be incredibly difficult to relay your plans about overthrowing the Lord Ruler to a bunch of the nobility – they’re his little favourites after all and even though they might have squabbling between themselves they have very easy and indulgent lives (at the Lord Ruler’s whim) and they have a lot to lose. Plus the skaa are nothing to them. There are a few with consciences (or so it appears) but are they going to get on board with a situation which potentially loses them their workforce or their lives? Despite that, I do like Elend, I’m not totally sure he’s going to be a man of action – maybe he’s going to uncover something important with all his reading. I can’t help thinking that reading is going to play a part her somewhere – we keep being told about all Elend’s reading and now Sazed with his translation of this all mysterious book!
3. What’s your favorite part of the book so far?
Well, this is a really difficult one to answer! Every week I’m totally surprised to find I’ve liked this week’s chapters more than the last – even though I really liked the earlier parts as well! I’m particularly enjoying watching Vin’s development. Not only is she becoming more confident in her own abilities but she’s actually starting to enjoy the company of the rest of the crew and to feel like a part of something. She even had a brief spell of reflecting about her brother and wishing he’d had a chance to experience something similar. I like the fact that she likes Elend and wants to think the best of him and will actually come straight to the point and ask her questions. But, I like the most the interaction with her and Sazed. Their discussion in the library was good to read and I also liked that she actually asked Sazed before she used her allomancy when following Elend at the last Ball she attended – they both seem to be developing a mutual trust and it’s good to see.
4. Now that Kelsier’s plan has hit some major stumbling blocks, what do you think will happen next? Do you think he can still succeed in defeating the Lord Ruler?
I actually do think that the Lord Ruler will be defeated and Kelsier and his crew are just going to have to come up with a Plan B – quickly. But, the only reason I feel so confident about this is because of the name of the book ‘Final Empire’ which is probably a bit goofy of me but there it is!
Bonus: For anyone who has read “The Way of Kings,” were you surprised at all to see Hoid pop up? What do you think of his role here? Unfortunately I haven’t yet read The Way of Kings so can’t comment on this one.
Good questions Grace, thanks.