Summary:The Emperor's Soul
This page contains a chapter by chapter summary of The Emperor's Soul. We hope this summary will make it easier to find specific areas of the book, as well as providing a quick plot refresher for anyone who doesn't want to take the time to reread the entire book.
Frava, and three other arbiters of the Rose Empire debate whether they should use the Forger Wan ShaiLu in their plan to maintain their power. Meanwhile Gaotona, the last of the arbiters, examines a painting forged by Shai that is almost identical to the original, a famous painting. He wonders why someone with such talent would choose to become a Forger instead of a "real" artist. He ends up deciding to agree with Frava, a rare occurrence, in hopes of finding out.
Shai identifies the last piece of stone in her prison walls, when she is escorted to a meeting with the arbiters by Zu, a Striker, who had captured her. He tells her that one day he will kill her. On the way to the arbiters Shai remarks to herself that the only part of Forgery that is technically illegal is Soul Forgery. Shai declares she was close to escaping. While listening to Frava recount her crimes, Shai deduces that the arbiters want her to do something for them and begins to discuss payment. It is agreed that she would be paid with her Essence Marks.
The arbiters show Shai that Emperor Ashravan had been injured in an attack by assassins that also killed his wife. His body had been healed with Resealing but his mind was gone. The arbiters task Shai with Forging him a new soul in the ninety-eight days the emperor could remain in mourning for his wife.
Gaotona presents Shai with a number of blank Soulstamps made of Soulstone. He notices a vase from the hall in her room and asks her about it. She says she wanted to determine the skill of the Heritage Faction's Forgers. Gaotona insists they are not Forgers but instead Rememberers. He also points out the flaw in the escape plan she had told to the arbiters. The circumstances of her imprisonment are discussed and it is revealed that the arbiters employ a Bloodsealer that will ensure Shai does not escape her room.
Shai thinks that creating a realistic Forgery in such a short time is impossible but decides to use the research required as a front while she plans her escape.
Shai Forges her table. Gaotona asks her what the design is based off, thinking it must be based on some historical artefact like Remembering. Shai says it is just a better version of itself, and gives Gaotona a lesson in Forgery and Realmatic Theory. She also gives him some ideas on how to keep the emperor's condition secret.
Shai continues to examine Ashravan's personal journal when Frava comes to speak with her. She reminds the arbiter the she needs someone to test stamps on. Frava attempts to bribe Shai with a position controlling the city's smuggling operations. She also mentions the possibility of putting a back-door to control the emperor in the stamp. Shai had intended to use the full hundred days to plan her escape, but now she realized that her sudden extermination could come at any time.
Gaotona points out the new stained-glass window then submits himself as Shai's test subject. She tests a number of stamps on him, such as the relationship Ashravan had with his brother. The stamp she made for why he became emperor fails and Gaotona reveals to her what he thinks is the real reason.
Gaotona asks Shai why she didn't become a real artist. She insists that she is. Gaotona realizes that the painting that Shai was caught trying to swap is a fake. Shai reveals that she burned the original prompting Gaotona to leave in anger.
Shai thinks about the book she is writing while doing all of her research and how it is a true history of Ashravan's life. She begins to doubt her ability to Forge his soul accurately and contemplates creating a puppet but she finds that she doesn't want to. She thinks about her plans for escape and decides creating a new Essence Mark for herself is out of the question.
Frava arrives and remarks on the changes to the room made by Shai. They then discuss how Shai will create the emperor's Essence Mark. Frava then takes Shai's notes to be “copied” but in reality it is so that her Forger can assess Shai's progress and determine if she can be killed.
Shai has trouble sleeping. She thinks about how her book of notes is a Forgery of tone, telling the other Forger to "stay away." She turns to research to occupy her and figures out why Ashravan lost his idealism. Frava returns the book of notes.
Gaotona shows some talent in reading soulstamps. The stamp for why Ashravan became emperor finally takes; it depended on his relationship with Gaotona. Shai points out that the reason Gaotona wanted her to do the Forgery was to get Ashravan back. Gaotona says that they have underestimated her. Shai replies that she understands people.
Shai discovers the letters the Bloodsealer receives are from a woman and scares the Bloodsealer when she asks about her. She considers starting her escape plan but puts it off so she can finish the Essence Mark even though Frava has continued to find reasons to borrow Shai's notes. To help relax Shai Forges the wall into being painted. Gaotona points out that it shouldn't have taken but Shai says the wall wants to be beautiful. After an accusation from Shai, Gaotona reveals he has been practising reading Shai's Essence Marks. They then discuss the five stamps and Shai's escape plan. Shai tells Gaotona she destroyed the painting at the behest of the painter, who trained her when she was younger. Shai reaches the final stage in the Forging of the emperor's soul, melding all of her previous stamps into one.
Shai discovers that the emperor's first love was from a storybook and shared his wife, Kurshina's, red hair. She fears that she isn't as close to finishing as she had believed. She examines her escape and resolves to finish the soul in one week and then escape.
Hurli picks up a letter, forged by Shai, that the Bloodsealer appeared to have dropped. It begins Shai's escape plan. She thinks about how she needs one more day to finish the soul and how luckily her escape plan requires one more day of waiting.
Shai finishes the Essence Mark. Zu comes in and dismisses the other guards. He then tries to kill Shai but falls into the trap she had set as part of her escape plan. The Bloodsealer's mark fails and Shai is free to leave her room. She makes her way to the emperor's chambers and stamps the emperor. The Essence Mark takes and Ashravan tells her to escape while she can. During her flight from the emperor's chambers, Shai almost collides with a gyorn ambassador. The Bloodsealer begins to track Shai but she waits for Gaotona in the hallway leading to the emperor's rooms. Gaotona arrives and Shai tells him the Mark worked. Gaotona gives Shai her Essence Marks and realizes he has been manipulated. Shai says she manipulated him by being genuine. She gives Gaotona a book and says she will change her last Mark to include a kindly grandfather.
Shai uses one of her Essence Marks to become Shaizan. She quickly disables Zu and then moves on to the Bloodsealer's Skeletals. She destroys them in quick succession. She tells the Bloodsealer to go back home to the girl who loves him and then takes some of his blood as insurance.
Gaotona meets the new Ashravan who asks why the arbiters needed a MaiPon Forger but quickly figures out the real reason.
Epilogue: Day 101
Ashravan talks to the assembled Factions. Gaotona remarks to Frava that it is something the old Ashravan would have done. Frava finds out the forged painting was stolen from her office.
Shai reveals she left a Reo rune in its frame. She then stamps herself with her survivalist Essence Mark.
Gaotona reads the book Shai gave him; it is a copy of the emperor's Essence Mark. It reveals that Shai added certain aspects that will help nudge him into becoming the emperor he had originally planned on becoming. Gaotona then burns the book.
|The Emperor's Soul (Sel)|
|Characters||Wan ShaiLu · Gaotona · Ashravan · Frava · Zu · Han ShuXen · Kurshina · Imperial Fool|
|Places||Rose Empire · Mulla'dil · MaiPon · Dzhamar · Ukurgi · Sogdian Forest · Rose Palace · Imperial Seat|
|Magic||Forgery · Bloodsealing · Soulstamp · Soulstone · Skeletal · Essence Mark|