Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

 To be a Rithmatist is to be called to higher purpose. It is to be a soldier, to protect the entirety of The United Isles, and it is to animate and duel with chalk. These elite fighters have been selectively chosen to ward off wild chalkings- two-dimensional creatures crafted of chalk that have the ability to eat human flesh. No one knows the origin of such creatures, but through the study of Rithmatics, people have discovered a way of creating their own chalklings, and those chosen have been able to hold the savage creatures back.

Joel would give anything to become a Rithmatist. Its not as if he wouldn't be good at the practice, he can draw defenses and even knows the theory behind them better than almost any of the other students. Yet Joel was not chosen to become one, and so he must live in their shadows. At least, until some of the Rithmatists at Armedius Academy have been kidnapped, and Joel might hold the only clues as to what happened.

I'm going to start off with this: The Rithmatist is the book I have been looking for. Not in the sense that it is the absolute best book of all time, but that I truly have been searching for a book that fits this bill. And that would simply be a focus on old school magic but not including witchcraft. It seems as if I would have found such a book by now, but I simply haven't until this point. And technically, this isn't old school magic but something completely new. Brand Sanderson created a new form of magic based on chalk drawings. This may sound both interesting and two-dimensional (pun intended), however throughout the book the limits of Rithmatics were continually stretched and I never found it to be a handicap, rather it was something to sit back and enjoy. The time-tested feel was created by having the setting primarily at a university and including professors and old-fashioned studies (and no cheesy new spins on mythical creatures. Yay!)

I was hooked immediately, but during the second half of the book I had to rip it out of my own hands. The pace is masterful, never allowing the story to get dull, and full of suspense without getting ahead of itself. There was always some new twist that I hadn't anticipated. Every character felt genuine and distinct without being cloyingly pronounced. At the end of the day, it was just a truly great book that earned the position of becoming one of my favorites, and I was truly relieved to discover at the end that the story is not over yet.

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