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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 26 June 2013
I was hooked on The Rithmatist by page 29. I wasn't sure what to expect as sometimes this kind of book can be too 'kiddy,' but it's actually perfect in almost every way. The amount of detail that has gone into creating Joel's world is astounding; not only has an entirely new system of magic been created (complete with full explanations and diagrams), but it also includes a full backstory and logical reasoning. Even the political and religious implications are explored, and a lot of time is spent explaining the tenuous relationship between the Rithmatists, the Church and the State. I have never read a YA book this well thought-out.

It's completely and utterly unique. I've obviously come across magic circles in books before, but only as a method of conjuring and containing demons. The Rithmatist is something else; something new and different that takes magic duels and turns them completely on their head. I wrote this three times in my review book, phrased various different ways, so clearly this particular aspect had a huge impact.

I was originally concerned when I saw the words 'Illustrations by Ben McSweeney' on the cover, as novels that include pictures are usually aimed at a much younger audience and are therefore too childish for my tastes. Here though, they actually are necessary and helpful. It's a story about battles with drawings, for God's sake! There are instructional diagrams that could be straight from a Rithmatist textbook, but also more descriptive pictures of the various battle monsters involved. I actually liked them quite a lot, as they didn't distract from the story in the slightest.

If I had one complaint, it's that occasionally it's a little... preachy. Not wham-in-your-face type stuff, but sometimes there is A Message To Be Learnt. I know a lot of children's books have a moral undertone, but if a teenager hasn't learnt not to show off (for example) by the time they're at an age to read The Rithmatist, there probably isn't a lot of hope for them.

I quite desperately want the next book now, although it hasn't even been announced as yet. The ending of The Rithmatist is perfect though - none of that cheap dramatic cliff-hanger crap. It's a perfect balance between tying off all the loose threads, but clearly indicating where the next book is going to go.

I know you probably get the idea by now, but this book is amazing. It would actually make a really great film - it's unique and fun, but also clever and kind of creepy. I actually had to stay up late just to finish it. If you like YA or fantasy or magic or.... well, anything else, you absolutely have to read this.
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on 29 March 2016
Joel goes to a school that also caters to students studying to become rithamists - a type of magical warrior that can fight against 'wild chalklings' with their own drawings and measurements (yeah, it sounds weird but it's surprisingly easy enough to get the gist of). When rithmatist students start disappearing in strange circumstances, Joel becomes part of the investigation.

I surprisingly enjoyed this. I was expecting a good story cause I had heard great things about Brandon Sanderson's writing, but I wasn't expecting to be quite so sucked in. The build-up of the world was pretty good, though I thought it was a dystopia type world at first, I think it was actually more of an alternate reality to our world today. The explanations of the different types of circles and lines and defences used by the rithmatists did go a bit over my head. I just saw shapes and my math-hating brain shut off, basically.

Joel was a good protagonist and I really liked his growing relationship with Melody. They never deviated from what I expected of them so their personalities really held firm. I also liked the professors Fitch and Nalizar. I couldn't help but think of Professor Slughorn from Harry Potter when it came to Fitch, that bumbling type of teacher and Nalizar's story arc reminded me a lot of how Harry treated and suspected Snape in the Philosopher's Stone.

I'm really hope another book will come out soon as I really feel there's so much more to come with this story and Joel's story.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 1 October 2013
The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson is, I believe, this authors first novel in the young adult market.

As a big fan of Brandon Sanderson's adult books I was hesitant in reading this as I was worried that the author may lose some of his story telling ability and complexity of his magic systems when writing for a younger audience... I really needn't have worried.

As he did with Elantris, the Mistborn books, the first book of the continuing Stormlight saga and pretty much any book I have read by this author, he has created a wonderfully original fantasy world with a magic system that is both complex and easy to grasp at the same time, This author is also one of the main panelists on a podcast called writing excuses and after listening to those and realising just how much thought and effort goes into every novel it is not surprising that they are as good as they are.

This book is a fast paced fantasy novel set in alternate reality, steampunk version of America. The characters are well rounded and loveable, the action is surprisingly exciting considering a lot of it is centred around people drawing pictures in chalk but most importantly this novel is yet another success for an author who is never afraid to try something new,

It is easy for me to say that Brandon Sanderson is the most exciting author writing fantasy today. His willingness to constantly test himself in creating original ideas is what leads to successes like this novel. He backs up those original ideas with great writing that it am especially impressed with in this novel as I rarely felt as though he was dumbing it down for a younger audience as so many YA authors have a tendency to do,

All together another excellent novel to add to the quickly growing Sanderson shelf on my bookcase and I am eagerly awaiting the next novel in this series.
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To be honest upon reading the books blurb I was left wondering what the hell? This idea doesn't sound like its going to work. The concept feels a little flat and perhaps a little childish. Had this been anyone other than Brandon Sanderson, well I might well have given it a miss. And boy was I pleased that I did pick this up.

The characters within were interesting, the magicks when they happened were wonderful and when added to the usual gripping writing style of Mr Sanderson alongside a good solid pace, all round made this a really enjoyable book to escape with.
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on 4 May 2016
It may have been written for a young-adult market, but The Rithmatist blows the sox off its rivals.

The 'magic system' is remarkable; unique, self-consistent and very, very clever. Even better, it permits development. The characters are well handled, and grow as they go. The plot is logical, but sufficiently convoluted to keep me guessing.

Must be said, I hit a dull patch in the middle, threw it on a shelf for more than a year. Trying again, the plot picked up pace a chapter or two later, and I was hooked.

My only regret is the author has not yet written the promised sequel.
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on 17 June 2013
As with many of Brandon Sanderson's own books, The Rithmatist constructs a world with an interesting premise for how the fundamentals of magic work, and some interesting characters, and then explores the result with a focus on the characters. As always, the results make for very enjoyable reading for anyone, even if this book seems to be aimed at younger readers (in terms of length and content).

The only reservation that I have in hoping for a followup for this book is that I dearly want the author to work on some of sequels to his other works.
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on 2 May 2015
The Rithmatist is an inventive and detailed story which focuses on two outsiders studying at Armedius Academy: Joel the chalk-makers son, with an instinctive, internalised grasp of mathematics who is not, though he longs to be, a Rithmatist, and Melody Mims, a failing Rithmatist student who prefers to sketch unicorns rather than improve the accuracy of her geometric diagrams.

At first they don’t get on, Melody has a scratchy personality and a massive chip on her shoulder, but the twosome find common ground in attempting to work out why Rithmatist students are disappearing, kidnapped from their rooms at night... leaving trails of blood.

Rithmatists from the islands of the New World use their magical powers as a defence against the inimical Chalklings who inhabit the Tower of Nebrask – the only freestanding structure of apparent human design to be found when the Islands were first discovered.

Students who complete their training at the Armedius Accademy, are sent to Nebrask to help keep the Chalklings penned in the Tower, and thus keep the American Isles safe from their depredations. It turns out that the kidnapped students are top-quality Rithmatists expected to be powerful fighters in the Tower war. Their loss is catastrophic.

Joel is assigned to Professor Fitch as an aide in Fitch’s investigation into the kidnappings. Inquisitive Melody tags along. In the course of their investigation, Joel discovers vital information in his dead father’s workshop. Then after a confrontation with a magical opponent he and Melody realise that there’s a whole lot more going on at Newbrask than people are aware of.

What they discover is something that will change Rithmatics, and their world, forever.

This fabulous book meant for young adult readers is more readable than a lot of lit-fic novels written for the older reader. The excitingly-tense story is told with flowing ease and is a definite page turner. I look forward to reading the planned sequel, The Aztlantian.
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on 12 May 2015
I've read a few of Sanderson's books before, and have been frustrated by the emphasis on the technical elements of the stories: sometimes the mechanics and the action scenes involving these things are almost intrusive. That's not to say the ideas are not vivid and interesting, just that their use sometimes seem belaboured.

Not so here. Here is a book that balances the story with the mechanics of its world and makes them co-dependent in a genuinely engaging way. The storytelling is smooth and unpretentious, the characters are not unrecognisable, and the pace is set well, tightening neatly as the story works towards its denouement. It is a young person's book, and would suit the Harry Potter age-group well; neverthless, speaking as a rather older reader who took this for light reading on a train journey, I very much enjoyed it.
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on 1 November 2015
I found this book a bit slow to start with and wasn't sure that I was going to like it. I think it was the initial description of rithmatics, chalk lines aren't that exciting. However it is worth sticking with and I was soon gripped by the story. I liked the characters of Joel and Melody and the way their relationship developed through the book. I enjoyed the ending but it definitely needs a second book.
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on 1 November 2013
Aimed at a similar audience to his `Alcatraz' series, `The Rithmatist' is a strong work of young adult fiction but will also appeal to any reader of the author's more adult works. Indeed much of the same qualities are present. Sanderson uncanny ability to create very convincing and real fictional worlds is used here to create an alternative of our own world where the United States is a collection of islands, monsters made of chalk terrorise the land and children with the given ability to bring their own chalk drawings to life are trained from a young age to fight these monsters.

The protagonist, Joel, is a teenage school boy who dreams of becoming a Rithmatist (someone with this power to control their drawings) but lacks the ability. In his efforts to learn more about Rithmatism he, along with a Rithmatist tutor and a Rithmatist friend, becomes involved in a murder investigation which seems to involve a rogue Rithmatist.

The author crafts some very well developed and detailed characters. Joel is instantly endearing and should easy appeal to young readers. Melody, his unusual Rithmatist student friend is aptly annoying to start with but as Joel comes to like her during the course of the novel so does the reader. Fitch as the uncomfortable tutor that lacks confidence in his own abilities is also quite memorable.

The novel has a strong plot with the twists to suit a murder mystery but also the magic and atmosphere of a fantasy story. It is a well constructed mixture. Due to the type of work it is it will obviously get compared to The Dark Materials and Harry Potter books, and it stand up well to either. There is the potential for a great series here and undoubtedly we will see more Rithmatist novels.
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