This month, we'll be reading The Emperor's Soul (http://www.amazon.com/The-Emperors-Soul-Brandon-Sanderson/dp/1616960922) by Brandon Sanderson. These days, Sanderson is probably best known as the writer picked to finish Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, but he's an enormously gifted author in his own right.
Winner of the 2013 Hugo for best novella, and nominated for a 2013 World Fantasy Award, The Emperor's Soul is the short work Sanderson is most proud of. Here's the back cover blurb:
"When Shai is caught replacing the Moon Scepter with her nearly flawless forgery, she must bargain for her life. An assassin has left the Emperor Ashravan without consciousness, a circumstance concealed only by the death of his wife. If the emperor does not emerge after his hundred-day mourning period, the rule of the Heritage Faction will be forfeit and the empire will fall into chaos.
Shai is given an impossible task: to create—to Forge—a new soul for the emperor in less than one hundred days. But her soul-Forgery is considered an abomination by her captors. She is confined to a tiny, dirty chamber, guarded by a man who hates her, spied upon by politicians, and trapped behind a door sealed in her own blood. Shai’s only possible ally is the emperor’s most loyal councillor, Gaotona, who struggles to understand her true talent.
Time is running out for Shai. Forging, while deducing the motivations of her captors, she needs a perfect plan to escape . . ."
Brandon Sanderson is a wonderful world builder, and in particular always comes up with clever and interesting magic systems, so this one should be a lot of fun to talk about. Hope everyone can make it!