The Rithmatist

Posted: February 8, 2014 in Book Reviews


The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

Chalk drawings come to life. Some get away and become wild chalkings that will eat you alive. Set in an alternative America where every state and province is an island. Rithmatist are trained at schools like Armedias to learn how to bring chalk drawings to life. Once trained the are sent off to Nebrask to fight off the wild chalkings.

Joel who is not a rithmatist but always wanted to be one has spent his life studying rithmatics and befriends a girl name Melody who is a rithmatic student but is terrible at drawing defensive chalk drawings but excels and actual chalking drawings.

Students start disappearing and these 2 team up with professor Fitch in an effort to find who is responsible and safely have the students return. Strange new rithmatic drawings show up at the crime scenes, this story becomes a bit of a mystery story.

I love the idea behind this book. The system of magic that has been created is inventive and unique, that’s nothing new for Brandon Sanderson. Using chalk to draw your creations and having them come to life. You fight against other chalk creations. Throughout the book you get treated to numerous illustrations and explanations about how chalkings work. defensive circles, lines of forbidding and generally you come to understand how this magic system works.

Sandersons Mormonism comes through in the writing of this book. The inceptions ceremony, which determines if you have been chosen to be a rithmatist, everyone gets a chance to go through, is treated as sacred rather than secret and administered by the church. The one being incepted enters the inception chamber where there is an alter and what happens in there is not discussed outside of those who are not rithmatist. Similar to those in the LDS faith that have been through the temple only discuss with those who have shared the same experience.

I do have some criticism of this book. While the story is a good one that I really like reading, I can’t get past one major flaw I see in the system of magic that has been set up. All chalk drawings can be erased easy enough with water or specially designed acid that is harmless to people but eradicates chalk drawings. It would seem to me be to easy to eliminate the threat of wild chalkings simply by dumping this acid on them and they would be gone. Why use another rithmatist to battle them.

It would seem to me for this to make more sense if the chalkings you draw came to life as 3d creations that would not be made of chalk, then you would have to draw your own defense. perhaps a system where they can only be defeated by defenses drawn by another rithmatist but they would have the ability to be a threat to anyone or anything? At least in my mind that would of made for a more convincing system of magic. It just seemed to lack any credibility for me as a believable magic system that works.

Later in the book these things start to be addressed, Though not very well in this volume or slightly. There is much to be done yet to resolve these serious flaws in his system of magic that has been created. I liked that he started to show some indication that simply throwing acid on them wont necessarily work as easily as this book originally implies and I can only hope that future volumes in this new series resolve the flaws that I see.

Thankfully the main story line makes up quite a bit for the flaws in the magic system. Good story development and great characters throughout the book.

I would love to give this book a good rating but I just can’t do that give the problematic system of magic that he has created, great idea and concept, poor execution. I will read the next volume as I did enjoy it enough for that and hopefully things will get better with further installments of the rithmatist.

I give this book 5.5/10 bookworms

  1. Pabkins says:

    I wasn’t being quite the stickler. =) But good to see you still plan to read further.

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