Book Review: “The Rithmatist” by Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Teen Fantasy
The Overview: Goodreads
“The Rithmatist,” while not as sophisticated as some of Sanderson’s high fantasy (for obvious reasons), is still one of my new favorite works from him. The magic system was particularly fun to read about — Rithmatists who duel one another using chalk drawings (ground wards for defense, animated chalk drawings for offense) and set in a school setting where they learn everything from geometry (for proper ward creation) to complex dueling strategies to boot! I love when books introduce some sort of competition, especially magic-related. “The Rithmatist” definitely reminded me of Hermione’s role in “Harry Potter” — very academically inclined and whenever she was around I felt like I learned a lot about magic. Joel fit that role for me here. He knew so much about the Rithmatists’ craft that by the end of the book I felt like an expert, too. The friendships formed in this book were also reminiscent of “Harry Potter,” and I especially love that Joel and Melody’s relationship was organic and atypical — very different from most YA.
The book also had a fun “whodunit” style mystery that did a great job keeping me guessing all the way until the end. If I can’t figure out who the culprit is by the halfway point (or better yet, if I’m certain I know who it is and I’m wrong), the author has done a great job weaving together a good mystery, as was the case here. I felt invested in the story because I was constantly trying out different theories of whodunit. With so many things keeping me glued to the pages, it’s no surprise I devoured it so quickly.
Overall, “The Rithmatist” had a great mix of good characters, compelling mystery, and magic infusion. It hit an A+ for me on all accounts, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy. This is one of those titles I find easy to recommend because it has appeal for a wide range of readers. Before diving in, I was under the impression “The Rithmatist” could essentially function as a stand-alone novel — not the case. I need the next one, like, yesterday! According to the author’s 2016 “State of the Sanderson“ post, we should be seeing a sequel “Soooooon.”
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