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. Quoted from Goodreads
Seriously, I really did enjoy this book. It's one of those that are thought provoking, but at the same time has enough action and political intrigue that it isn't just about exploring an idea. The magic system, once again, is amazing. It's creative and complex, while being utterly believable.
The same goes for the world building. Despite the short length it's rich and detailed. 90% of it takes place in one room, and still you can't stop reading. It's set in the same world as Elantris, and while I've read that book, it's been a few years, so I honestly didn't make that connection until the author stated that in the end. I see the similarities, now, but you absolutely dont' have to have read Elantris to enjoy this book. Even the magic system, while similar to Elantris, comes at it from a completely different angle. Plus it takes place in a different kingdom, far from the events of that book.
As for the characters, I loved them. Shai is more than just a forger, she's an artist. It's interesting watching the way she handles different situations. She's brilliant, complicated, and extremely competent with everything she does. I love cleaver main characters, and she is pretty much exactly the kind I love reading about best. Gaotona is also great. He's well drawn and complex and balances Shai and the story perfectly. Shai and Gaotona both grow throughout the story as they come to understand each other. As for the emperor . . . well, the story is about his soul, and I really love how that whole element was handled.
In the end, this is just a great book. It's not the world or the magic system that sells it, though they are both wonderful, but the story itself and the ideas it explores that keeps you reading. It's an excellent 4.5 stars for me. It's short, and part of me wanted it to be longer, but at the same time, it was the exact length it needed to be.