Legion and The Emperor's Soul is a very short book, its author is Brandon Sanderson. At 200 pages, this little book contains two novellas; Legion, and The Emperor's Soul. These two novellas are very different to each other in terms of themes, genre, and settings. I read this whole book in the space of one day. I was so impressed by this book, that I have decided to add it to my list of favorite books. Today, I would like to share some of my thoughts about this book in a review. Let me start this review, by providing a synopsis for this book:
Have you ever had experiences where you hallucinated? Are hallucinations results of unhelpful mental disorders, or can it bring positive benefit(s) to a person?
Stephen Leeds suffers from a unique mental condition, where it enables him to generate multiple personae in the form of hallucinations. Each of his hallucination has his/her own personal traits, but they also possess a spectrum of highly specialized skills. Stephen is nicknamed “Legion” for this unique condition he is in. However, because Stephen can access the unique skill sets possessed by his legion of hallucinations, he became a man who is highly skilled in virtually every field ever existed, making him a renowned detective with unparalleled problem solving ability.
One day, a client seek out Stephen's help. This client brought a mysterious photograph. The story behind this photograph, could open a window to new ways of accessing information that will rock and change the entire world...
The Emperor's Soul
An assassination attempt was made on Emperor Ashravan of the Rose Empire. The emperor suffered a head injury, leaving him without consciousness. Meanwhile, Shai, a master forger, failed an attempt to replace the Moon Scepter with her forgery. She was caught and subsequently imprisoned. For her crime, Shai was sentenced to execution. However, the emperor's arbiters offered Shai freedom, on the condition that she must complete an impossible task: Forging Emperor Ashravan's soul within 100 days.
Being confined to a tiny room, and spied by politicians from the imperial court, Shai embarked the monumental task to forge the emperor's soul, knowing that failing the task would mean her ultimate demise. What will be Shai's fate?
What I think about this book:
My first experience with Brandon Sanderson's works, was Mistborn trilogy. Although Mistborn wasn't my cup of tea, but I did like Sanderson's style of writing. However, I much prefer Legion and The Emperor's Soul instead. This is a short and sweet book. The writings are descriptive and clear. The story is full of energy, while the characters and scenery are portrayed in vivid details. The pace of story development in (both) novellas flowed at a good pace. The storytelling felt natural and not forced, with unexpected twists and turns which led to thought-provoking conclusions.
In my opinion, while Legion and The Emperor's Soul are equally as good. Yet, they are very different tales. Where The Emperor's Soul is a fantasy novella, set in a fantasy world that resembles the Asian culture, Legion is a detective/mystery thriller set in our world at the present time. I found Legion to be thought-provoking, because this 80 page novella explored a variety of themes; from mental disorder, politics, religious faith, to how technology impacts the human civilization. Sanderson managed to tell a full story that is packed with actions and thrills, while exploring the whole spectrum of thought-provoking subjects, all in the space of 80 pages! I think this is an impressive feat, Sanderson is very good at what he does.
On the other hand, The Emperor's Soul is a very unique fantasy novella. While most modern fantasy fictions are set in worlds resembling medieval Europe, The Emperor's Soul is set in a world that resembles the medieval, eastern Asia. This is a refreshing change. The invention of “stamps” played an important role in this story, and Sanderson shared that the inspiration for The Emperor's Soul came into his mind, when he visited National Museum of History in Taipei. I have visited this museum in the past. This museum has an immensely large collection, containing fascinating artifacts that spanned over thousands of years of Chinese history. If you ever visit Taiwan, I would strongly recommend that you stop by, and visit National Museum of History.
I was really impressed with The Emperor's Soul, because in a short space of 140 pages, Brandon Sanderson managed to successfully build an entire fantasy world, that is fully established with its own culture and history. At the same time, while the story is entertaining, but it is also embedded with interesting, philosophical subjects such as personal identity, and the meaning of art. Personally, I would really like to see Sanderson continue with the story from The Emperor's Soul, and write sequels in the future.
I had a great time reading Legion and The Emperor's Soul. This book proves that fictional novella is not dead. In fact, because the stories in this book are short and sweet, I can see myself re-reading this book in the days to come. In the world today where so many books appeared in the form of series, this one feels refreshing. If you are looking to read a book with an engaging story, but do not feel like picking up a whole series, then I recommend Legion and The Emperor's Soul to you. This book will not disappoint.