The Emperor’s Soul is the only Sanderson story to win a Hugo (as of yet), and it deserves it. It’s an excellent story playing very well to Sanderson’s strengths, but it also feels more literary than his regular fare, with the worldbuilding very much serving the themes of the story rather than something developed for its own right.
This is probably the best prose Sanderson has written; it flows, it serves the themes well, and there’s no (well, a lot less than usual) clunky insertions of worldbuilding explanations.
The story works so well as a self-contained tale; it really breaks from the genre standard of setting up sequels and series’ by simply telling a single story as well as it can be told. While it is set in the same world as Elantris (and the wider Cosmere universe), it’s completely self-contained.
The worldbuilding is fascinating but not a distraction, the characterisation is simple but strong, the prose serves the story well, and everything is cohesive and focused on telling a damn good story. A joy to read.
I give it four soulforged tables, and a “fake” painting.