Fantasy
THE RITHMATIST

I think I’ve said this before in some of my other posts, so I apologize for the repetition, but I just don’t know how he does it? Every time I think I’ve read everything written by the man, I find more books that I’ve still not read (I’m now working my way through an audio book of Elantris) and he continues to create new and distinctive styles of magic.

Most authors have trouble developing one magic system, let alone the 1/2 dozen (or more) that Brandon Sanderson has now put out in a variety of books. Its one thing to create a system its another, however when you tie up all the loose ends and make the system have proper rules and guidelines that work in that specific universe and here is definitely where he excels!

This point was driven home to me even more quite recently when I watched a repeat of a movie that I had enjoyed thoroughly as a child. Superman II was a great movie (I thought) and probably the one that I enjoyed the most, but comparing that to the most recently released Superman is a joke (often remakes are worse than the original but in this case, they’ve done an excellent job … I am however going of topic a bit).

With regards to the magic system (I know, Superman isn’t supposed to have Magic, but in the original Superman II movie he does!) in Superman II, all the Kryptonians seem to be able to shoot white beams of some sort of power from their hands, and they are also able to “wink” in and out and literally teleport themselves from place to place! This teleportation is NOT through super speed or anything like that, and in Superman’s case, not only can he teleport, he seems to be able to create holographic duplicates of himself! See what I mean about a messed up magic system? I know it’s Hollywood and you can’t exactly expect consistency from them, but still!!

From the book jacket:

More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Chosen by the Master in a mysterious inception ceremony, Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings — merciless creatures that leave mangled corpses in their wake.

Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students study the magical art that he would do anything to practice.

Then students start disappearing — kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery — one that will change Rithmatics — and their world — forever.

What’s it all about?

In the Rithmatist, Brandon Sanderson has written a book for young adults that offers chalk and drawings as a form of magic. This slightly different world (for example, the United States is formed from an archipelago and was depopulated when it was discovered) has students learning a unique form of magic called Rithmatics. Available only to a select few based on a mysterious ceremony, practitioners of this art are able to create intricate drawings for attack and defense.

While drawing with chalk might seem like just a game, in the mysterious state of Nebrask, wild chalklings are attempting to escape and when they do, the only outcome possible is death to the inhabitants of the land.

 

Similar to many other series (presented really well actually in the Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera) series) Joel loves the magic that he is unable to do. For whatever reason (you’ll need to read the book to find out!), he was not chosen by the “Master” and as such he does not have the gift that all the other rithmatists have.

In addition due to the loss of his father (who coincidentally is a chalkmaker) at an early age, Joel and his mother are quite poor and impoverished and in fact, Joel is only able to attend the prestigious Armedius Academy by the good grace of its principle who used to be friendly with Joel’s father.

Joel however has a love for Rithmatics that cannot be denied and while he continues to get removed from classes, he finds any excuse that he can to listen and learn from the Rithmatics instructors and is in attendance when one Rithmatics instructor challenges another to a duel for control of the class.

Rithmatics while a formula driven system is also very antagonistic and one of the ways that masters move up, is through formal duels. This duel progresses to its inevitable conclusion (I don’t think I’ll ruin the story to tell you that the challenger wins and takes over the class!) and Joel watches in awe as someone he thought unbeatable is humiliated conclusively.

While the story could simply be a matter of the magic system however, it is so much more as students start to disappear from the school in bizarre and fearful circumstances. Joel while technically proficient in his understanding of Rithmatics simply does not have the magic in himself and is unable to do much by himself, but with the assistance of another student – Melody he helps to investigate the disappearances and in the process changes everyone’s understanding of what he can and cannot do!

Overall I really enjoyed this book and loved how it developed and grew on me. Its not a heavy read and I think I finished it in 2 quick sittings and I can see it definitely appealing to readers of Harry Potter and other YA fantasy fans. If they truly do make a movie of this book – it will be a doozie and one that I know I would be happy to see in the theater!

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I'm a geek! I love all things SciFi and Fantasy and have done since I first read LOTR as a kid. Escapism to fantastic worlds filled with weird and wonderful creatures initially for me was via books and comics, but with the recent surge in popularity of this fare in film and television also - I'm in a state of bliss! As the editor of Zone Six, I've been lucky to meet some other awesome authors and writers that share this love and passion. The great Ray Bradbury said - "Science fiction is any idea that occurs in the head and doesn't exist yet, but soon will .. it will change everything for everybody, and nothing will ever be the same again."

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