Review: The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

“More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Chosen by the Master in a mysterious inception ceremony, Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings — merciless creatures that leave mangled corpses in their wake. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.

As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students study the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing — kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery — one that will change Rithmatics — and their world — forever.

Bestselling author Brandon Sanderson brings his unique brand of epic storytelling to the teen audience with an engrossing tale of danger and suspense—the first of a series. With his trademark skills in world-building, Sanderson has created a magic system that is so inventive and detailed that that readers who appreciate games of strategy and tactics just may want to bring Rithmatics to life in our world.” Goodreads Description

I loved the new style of magic that Sanderson has incorporated here. Magic in fantasy often gets old, then an author comes along with a totally new idea and writes a book about it – this is that book. Chalklings! Rithmatics! I’ll admit, the technical aspect of Rithmatics went over my head (way too mathematical for me), but Chalklings! I wish there was more of them in the book! Maybe in the next one? Please? 

The worldbuilding was good. It’s set in a sort of alternative USA, I guess. But it feels real and believable; it doesn’t feel like a rip-off of what we know – it feels like a genuine fantasy world.

Characters… Joel is very naive in some ways and felt a bit dull at times, but at other times, he was the sharpest knife in the box. I loved his unique perspective on the problems with Rithmatics students etc. I loved how the author used that perspective to write the book. Very clever! Joel is invaluable to the Rithmatists for this very reason. Melody provides comic relief, although she has a deeper side and I completely adore her. A novella from her POV please! The not-so-nice professor was where the book fell down for me. I needed more not-so-niceness from him, if he was to be someone the protagonist didn’t like. I can’t even remember his name, and I have read books where the villains and/or perceived villains have stood out so much I couldn’t forget them if I tried. If I’m reading a book from Joel’s POV, and Joel dislikes this one person and thinks he’s the square root of evil, then I need to think he’s the square root of evil too. With a book this good, with characters so well done and so fantastic, and a world that’s totally incredible… there is no excuse for the author not to have written the not-so-nice professor better. Sanderson is clearly more than capable of great things!

The book did feel like a set-up novel, as many first books in a series are, but I am not complaining – it was a great book and I loved being given the chance to bed myself into a new fantasy world before all the things happen! The world is that good – you want to explore it and get to know it before actual story happens. (There is a plot too; you won’t get bored; it just feels like a set-up book. Albeit a brilliant one!) 

Time invested in this book; in this series – will be time well spent.

My Rating: 4/5 – I’m frantic for the next one in the series!


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