The Rithmatist is a YA novel by Brandon Sanderson. The story is set in a steam-punk alternative United States, called the United Isles, where magic-wielding rithmatists protect the people from creatures called chalklings. I will admit, seeing that past sentence in letters on the page makes the book sound super nerdy. Any I suppose it is.
Here are my thoughts, spoiler free as always, on The Rithmatist:
Geometry — I love the magic in the books. It’s based off of geometry and drawing specific shapes and figures for different magical effects. Each chapter begins with a set of diagrams and notes explaining rithmatics. For this reason, I wish that I had read the book, rather than listening to it as an audiobook. That being said, the audiobook did a good job describing the diagrams, and I didn’t feel lost without the diagrams. I just wish I had been able to look at them and go back to them as I worked my way through the story. You can actually find the drawing online here, if you are interested.
Pacing — I thought that the story was very well paced. Each chapter had a new bit of information to keep the story exciting, and I changed my opinion of how the story would end three or four times. I was, of course, wrong in the end with all of my guesses, which was extremely satisfying. My wife, who also listened to the book with me, enjoyed the story, but she felt it lagged a little in the middle. I didn’t feel like that, but a third opinion on the table doesn’t hurt.
Melody Muns — The character Melody Muns was a little bit off. I enjoyed her personality, but her general behavior did not match her given age in the story. She is supposed to be a teenager, but she acts like she is eleven or twelve. I didn’t mind it too much, but the discrepency was large enough, that I felt it was worth mentioning. If you are extremely sensative to that kind of thing, it might get on your nerves, but it is not a reason not to read the book.
Overall, I give The Rithmatist a 4.4 out of 5 stars rating. It was fun and witty and I loved the magic and the world. What’s not to love with stick figure duels and mysterious chalk drawings that come to life? I recommend this book for middle school readers on up. There were a few tense scenes, but very little violence and no swearing or adult themes. If you are a fan of Percy Jackson or Harry Potter, The Rithmatist is a great book to read to scratch your fantasy itch.
When the next Rithmatist book comes out, I will definitely be in line to read it. Did you read the book? What do you think about it?