Review: The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

May 10, 2013 5 stars, Book Review, Young Adult 8

Pabkin’s One Liner: A unique magic system like none I’ve seen before!


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.

Fist pumps and kudos to Brandon Sanderson because The Rithmatist was fan-freaking-tastic amazing! He continuously amazes me with his ability to create new and unique magic system that draw me in and leave me wanting to know more.  But why…why did The Rithmatist rock my socks off? Well if you read a lot of young adult fiction like I do, you might have noticed a certain formula that many of the books seem to follow. Young tortured youth meets boy or girl, instantly falls in love, or even worse the tired love triangle is thrown in.

Don’t get me wrong I still read and enjoy many of those, but after awhile those are so predictable! There was none of that in The Rithmatist. It was full of mystery and knowledge seeking. I do have to admit though in several ways it reminded me of the Harry Potter books.

Sure, the protagonist Joel has a bit of tragedy in his past in the form of a passed away father, but that was many years ago and many people lose a parent while they are young. In ways because of who his father was it helped shape his interests and put him in a position to both pursue them, and yet at the same time perhaps miss his chance at doing our being something he greatly desires. For those of you used to a romance element in your YA fiction you won’t really get that here.

What defines Joel and makes him stand out from so many other young characters I’ve read is that he is one major goal in life, to learn as much as he possibly can about Rithmatics. In this wonderfully realized alternate world to ours, there are some awesome similarities but crazy differences. All of what would have been the United States are islands! I loved the era they seemed to be in. Imagine stream punk but without the steam, just all of the gadgets, and no actual electronics. Fascinating thought right?

The magic system, Rithmatics, is based off of people imbued with the power to make their chalk drawings come to life. The lines they draw with chalk have power and this magic is used to fight off wild chalkling creatures that all originate from some tower on a central island. I’d you find this all hard to picture never fear, The Rithmatist comes chalker packed full of illustrations! This was one of my favorite parts.

At its heart, I consider this book a mystery fantasy. There were crimes that need investigating and solving. We see wonderful growth of character in Joel, and he has an excellent sporting cast of characters.


Tabitha the Pabkins

The Rithmatist

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• This final copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. Please note that this post also contains affiliate links. To view our full Blog Policy, click here.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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8 Responses to “Review: The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson”

  1. [email protected]

    All right, you had me with your one liner and the fact that you named Harry Potter 😀 I always love it when I read a book that follows another storyline. Unique stories are the best. I like that it’s a male POV. I’ll be checking this one soon!

      • April

        Yesss, Harry Potter you says *perks ears* yesss, yess, I may need to read this.. I love a good male POV as well, they seem so rare these days! And magics, I can’t get enough of the magics!

  2. Anya

    Huh, I hadn’t thought of that HP connection, good catch! I also have to admit I loved Melody, she was freaking hilarious, haha. Excellent review, I completely agree with all of it 😀

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I loved Melody as well! I had to cut myself off on my review rant of how awesome it was because personally I hate reading long reviews of books. I feel like after a handful of paragraphs why bother continue reading the review – if I’m interested enough by then I’ll just go get the book you know.

      • Tabitha the Pabkins

        Then you will like this one. Completely different kind of magic and of course not everyone can do magic. It’s so very elitist. Except Melody and the Professor they aren’t Elitist! Read it!

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I enjoyed the magic system but I didn’t feel it was the strongest one I’ve seen from him. Also I do believe this was middlegrade fiction so I didn’t fault him for that.