This is a cute little side story set during the climactic final scenes of the main Elantris storyline. Basically, it’s a story that Sanderson had originally in mind for Elantris but cut due to pacing or other issues.
Basically, it follows Matisse, an Elantrian who is charged with watching after the children and ends up saving them all with the help of Ashe the Seon.
If I hadn’t been told, at first I wouldn’t realize that The Emperor’s Soul takes place in a far away corner of the same world as Elantris. But as the story wears on, and the details of the magic system are revealed, it becomes more obvious that the worlds are one and the same. I really do love how Sanderson does magic systems. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, especially not at the same scale. Every system seems new, yet there’s a shared core to all of them. I love it.
Other than that, I did like the character of Shai. There’s something about an artist who works entirely to know that she did it, rather than for public acclaim that I enjoy. Sneaky and subtle. Excellent. I could see a few of the twists coming (that she wouldn’t escape until the last moment; the changes she made), but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable.
I have yet to find a Sanderson novel that I don’t particularly like and Elantris is no exception.
Basically, Elantris focuses around the titular city; once a place of wonder and magic which. Ten years ago, all that ended and now it’s populated by essentially zombies: those without heartbeats who cannot die and cannot heal. We follow a few different story lines–a princess from another land engaged to the prince who gets Elantrisified in the very beginning of the story; an attempted religious coup from multiple fronts; and the politics of a kingdom/city trying to heal after massive upheaval.