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The Rithmatist

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

Brandon Sanderson is known for his inventive and intricate syste

Brandon Sanderson is known for his inventive and intricate systems of magic that he develops for his novels. His are sort of the opposite of Terry Brooks and other authors' fantasy settings wherein the magic is inherently unpredictable and unsystematic. Which type of st...
Brandon Sanderson is known for his inventive and intricate systems of magic that he develops for his novels. His are sort of the opposite of Terry Brooks and other authors' fantasy settings wherein the magic is inherently unpredictable and unsystematic. Which type of story-telling is preferable is up for debate. I kind of like both types of stories, those with
, and those without
, orderly and logical systems of magic.

In his new YA novel, The Rithmatist
, Sanderson has the incredibly detailed and consistent magic system called “Rithmatics”, but with a twist. You see, the main protagonist, who knows the most there is to know about this system is not
a Rithmatist. The teenage boy, Joel, is the son of a chalkmaker, who has always shared his late father's fascination for Rithmatics. The essential gist of Rithmatics is that, by the use of intricate drawings with chalk, based in mathematics in part (thus the name of the system), the talented Rithmatist can create defenses and little animals (called “chalklings”) that do their bidding.

Of course, there is so much more to this story than what I've said so far, but to say too much more would be to massively spoil the story. Anyone who has read Sanderson's novels knows that he is apt to have one huge revelation after another in the second half to last third of his books. So, in order to not give away huge plot points, I can't say too much, except that Joel is, despite not being a Rithmatist, much more special to whatever otherworldly forces are at work on the side of the good guys.

There really wasn't much to critique here. I think that the set-up is interesting, in that one could argue it is a non-wizard against a group of the most powerful evil magic-users. I suppose that the book's ending could be seen as a let-down. It concludes with a major revelation of defeat and a victory by Joel and his friend/sort-of girlfriend, Melody (who is, unlike Joel, a Rithmatist), and.... that's it. We see some of the results of Joel's victory, but not all. What will happen with the amazing feat Melody and Joel accomplished at the end? We shall see. The ending was one massive sequel hook that felt a little flat. But that is about the only criticism I can think of about this book.

I think that Sanderson handled the burgeoning friendship and potential romance between Joel and Melody quite well. Joel and Melody don't have some passionate love affair, but they are obviously leaning towards developing feelings for each other. It is a teenage crush type of situation that is written in a really sweet way.

Then there is Mr. Fitch, who does a fine job of being a really great character, even while being mild and fearful. His awesomeness at the end (minor spoiler there!) will not be foreseeable given his nervousness and fearfulness for part of the book. I just have to say that the type of informal family made up of Joel, his mom, Fitch, and Melody was really nice and fun to root for and read about.

One quick note for those who read the book is to pay attention to the descriptions of Rithmatic concepts before each chapter, they seem to be applicable to a certain event near the end of the book. At least, that was my interpretation from the use of a certain feminine personal pronoun.

Once again, Sanderson delivers a master-stroke, this time for the YA market.

Highly Recommended.

posted by MereChristian on July 9, 2013

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

sub-par Sanderson

I was underwhelmed by this effort. The world Sanderson creates seemed unreal and unlikely and, ultimately, uninteresting. And I had no idea that it is the first book of a planned trilogy. I really do not understand all the glowing reviews.

posted by 10779601 on July 5, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent. This is a very interesting world that I want to learn

    Excellent. This is a very interesting world that I want to learn more about. I can't wait for the next book to come out.

    This is the first of Brandon Sanderson's books I have ever read and it makes me want to try some of his others.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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