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I just finished Brandon Sanderson's novella The Emperor's Soul and have been trying to place its setting in relation to Elantris. In terms of location, we can figure out that it's set in the northwest of Opelon as the story talks about the Teod peninsula in the south.

However, I'm having trouble figuring out when the story is set in relation to the events in Elantris. There are references to the regions of JinDo, Svorden and Teod, so at least these nations seem to exist at the time. There is also mention of a "southern red priest" which I assume is a reference to the Shu-Dereth religion from Elantris. So at least it can't take place more than a few hundred years before Elantris because the religion wasn't that old.

One thing I've noted is that the map of Sycla/Opelon that was contained in Elantris denotes the region northwest of Teod as "Rose Barbarians?". However, what we see in The Emperor's Soul is far from a Barbarian nation (and calls itself the "Rose Empire"). The map itself does acknowledge:

This map has severe deficiencies especially in the northwest, [...]

But this could also refer to the geography. If the Rose Barbarians were really barbarians at the time that have "evolved" into the Rose Empire by the time of The Emperor's Soul at least (on the order of) a thousand years must have passed, because Ashravan is the 49th emperor. Then again, this map is from Fjorden, and I wouldn't put it past them to call any nation barbaric that doesn't believe in Jaddeth.

So... did I miss any clues that can give a definite answer to when The Emperor's Soul is set? Or did Sanderson ever address this outside of the text?

  • there was originally some wondering in the fandom about TES taking place about 20 years after Elantris iirc, but I seem to remember it either being debunked by Brandon/Peter or there just never being any good WoB about it – fbstj Mar 17 '17 at 14:17
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There is no official timeline to relate one Cosmere story to another. In most cases, publication order for each setting/storyline is the rough order of events. The author has typically gone on record when exceptions are made - Sixth of the Dusk was noted as being far in the future compared to other works - and he has not made any further timing details available for The Emperor's Soul.

To try and get a better idea, there are a few things we can work with...

Arcanum Unbounded, in Khriss's summary of the world of Sel, states -

Central to this system is the planet of Sel - home to multiple empires that, uniquely, have remained somewhat ignorant of one another. It is a willful kind of ignorance, with each of the three great domains pretending that the others are mere blips on the map, barely worth notice.

So the maps of Fjorden treating the Rose Empire as "barbarians" is entirely within character and not a factor in timing, and it can be assumed that Elantris takes place in the same era. The table that Shai has, the abandoned splintering one she fixes, is even briefly implied as being from Fjorden.

Second, Hoid has a presence in both stories. He only briefly appears as someone working with Sarene in Elantris, and he's only present by implication in The Emperor's Soul (a deleted scene reveals him as the Imperial Fool), but so far as we know that man can't be in two places at once. So that eliminates the two stories happening at exactly the same time.

There is a scene added to the latest edition of Elantris (hidden, actually, well after all the extras and deleted scenes, credit to @TrustedInSci) that shows Hoid leaving the world through Elantris' mountain pool, right after the city is restored. This makes it rather harder to draw any implications as to what happened when - it's possible he left and came back later or through another route for the events of Emperor's Soul, or it's possible the antics in the Rose Empire happened first and this new scene is him departing for a good long while. The only thing we can estimate is that the two tales are probably only some years apart, and since the only other thing we can rely on is assuming the usual publication order rule applies, probably Soul happens later.


Credit to our questioner @Martin Ender, there is also a fan transcript of a HalCon Q&A session with the creator Brandon Sanderson, posted online in 2012, which contains the following...

Can you tell us the timeline of TES in comparison to Elantris?
It happens shortly after Elantris

So unless Word of God changes, that's likely to be a final answer.

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  • It should be noted that the Perpendicularity near the city of Elantris is the pool in the mountains near the city (Devotion's Shardpool). Hoid can be seen entering the pool and disappearing in the last chapter of the new 10th Anniversary Edition of Elantris. – TrustedInSci Mar 23 '17 at 14:15
  • @TrustedInSci how stupid of me. I was never terribly interested in the deleted scenes, so it never occurred to me the author would hide a story segment after everything else, extras, afterword, and all, like some Marvel stinger. – Radhil Mar 24 '17 at 1:51
  • @TrustedInSci - edited in. Thank you for the heads up. – Radhil Mar 24 '17 at 10:26
  • No problem. With Brandon there's always another secret. – TrustedInSci Mar 24 '17 at 15:44
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    I just stumbled over a WoB by accident: "It happens shortly after Elantris" 17thshard.com/forum/topic/2422-hal-con/#comment-44676 You wanna edit your answer accordingly so that I don't have to make a competing and much less extensive one? – Martin Ender Sep 11 '17 at 15:21

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