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The Rithmatist

(Rithmatist #1)

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  61,173 ratings  ·  7,106 reviews
More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings. 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, Jo
Hardcover, First Edition, 378 pages
Published May 14th 2013 by Tor Teen (first published May 13th 2013)
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Scott I have yet to read anything by Sanderson that I didn't enjoy. He has books aimed at different levels of readers. The Rithmatist would be a great read …moreI have yet to read anything by Sanderson that I didn't enjoy. He has books aimed at different levels of readers. The Rithmatist would be a great read for junior high level on up. Clean with action, but no gore.

The Reckoners series is aimed at the young adult market. The books are fast paced and gripping, with a gritty edge.

The first three Mistborn books, on the other hand, are epic fantasy that include many dark elements. The books in his Stormlight Archive series are even more serious epic fantasy that require a high level of reader commitment.

If you're interested in something shorter, check out some of Sanderson's novellas. You might like his two Legion stories, Sixth of Dusk, Perfect State, or if you want something mildly scary you might consider Shadows for Silence In the Forests of Hell. All great reads.(less)
Aaron Toponce Well, it is technically a "young adult fantasy", so take that as you will. With that said, I didn't find the tone childish at all. I'm 38, and immense…moreWell, it is technically a "young adult fantasy", so take that as you will. With that said, I didn't find the tone childish at all. I'm 38, and immensely enjoyed the book. I read it to my then 7 year old daughter, and she actually didn't care for it as much as she did the Alcatraz series by the same author.

But no, I wouldn't say it has a "teenager feel".(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.23  · 
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 ·  61,173 ratings  ·  7,106 reviews

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Dec 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Listened to this one on audio, vainly hoping beyond hope that I might finally read a Brandon Sanderson book I don't like so I can feel better about myself as an author.

But no. I enjoyed this book as much as any of his. Good worldbuilding, just as you'd expect from Sanderson. And a clever, detailed magic system. Good mystery surrounding the world.

And I really like that things aren't easy for the protagonist. Everything doesn't just fall into his lap. He wants things at the beginning of the book
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
(3.5) As always with Brandy Sandy, the world building and magic system were very interesting.

I might be an old shrew but I think this book would have been much better in a university setting.
The character, while being 16, read as if he were 12. It made it pretty hard to believe that the adults would think he was doing great at solving the mystery.

Overall enjoyable, will possibly read the next one when it comes out but since there's no release date... maybe not.
Dana Ilie
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A another mind blowing book.
The Rithmatist, is a Young Adult fantasy. Sanderson hits all the right notes when it comes to all the usual YA themes; coming of age, the meaning of true friendship, loyalty, perseverance, and even a didactic against bullying.
As expected in a Sanderson novel, the magic system is completely unique.
The characters are a fun bunch to read about – every one of them is unique with their distinct personalities and idiosyncrasies. Sanderson does a good job here and the charac
May 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Brandon Sanderson just made chalk figures scary. Chalk figures. As in these guys:

Ok, admittedly they don’t look like much, certainly not like man eating monsters, but after reading this, they are totally creepy. Sanderson’s certainly built up a (well deserved) reputation for writing interesting, intelligent, wildly imaginative magic systems - to the point it’s pretty much common knowledge in the fantasy community these days, but as The Rithmatist proves, those talents still go a long way, especi
Caz (littlebookowl)
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Rating: 4.5 stars

This was such an enjoyable and fun read!
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
*deep sigh*

So, I've read 14 full-length novels and 2 novellas by Brandon Sanderson, and this is the one that didn't do it for me.

My one glowing positive is that, once again, Sanderson presents his readers with a fascinating magic system. Think Chalk Zone with more violence!

Rithmatists are a chosen elite, trained from a young age & charged with protecting civilization by way of breathing life into mathematically intricate chalk sketches. These sketches rely on the precision & intent of the artis
booksnpenguins (lance orion approved)
"What good is having friends if they don't put you in mortal peril every once in a while?"


That's it.
That's the review.
Pre-read reaction, October 2011:

I have only a vague idea what it's about. But it's by Sanderson, so *cue droning robot voice* . . . I will read it. I must read it.


If an author came to me and said: "I have a great idea for a magic system. These guys called Rithmatists draw in chalk on the ground, and their chalk drawings have power. They can draw chalklings, which can be given instructions. Some chalklings can actually injure people, especially the wild chalklings. Those guys are dangerous!"
TS Chan
4.5 stars.

One of the reasons why fans of Brandon Sanderson (including yours truly) love him so much - when he gets into a writing funk he sidetracks himself by writing something completely different from his main project and it can result in a gem like this book.

MG and YA are not my go-to genre and hence, I'm very selective when it comes to these books. However, I have immense faith in Sanderson as he consistently churns out good, if not amazing, books. I also failed to understand why he had be
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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“… everyone knows that ice cream is worth the trouble of being cold. Like all things virtuous, you have to suffer to gain the reward.”

★ It has been a while since I read a Sanderson book and I was really in the mood to read one. This is currently the only book in this series so I decided to jump in since it was not huge.

★ This is one of Sanderson’s YA books and although the characters and writing were indeed YA, I felt it could be enjoyed b
Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller
[4.5 stars] I hope no one gets tired of hearing me say “I read another Sanderson, and it was amazing!” because I say it a lot.

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 everyth
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-owned-read
I loved this book.

The story was solid and the world was AMAZING. So much fun to read, the characters were lovely. This book is technically young adult, but it is so unique and so focused on a beautiful and well thought out world, and not romance that I forgot sometimes while reading.
Iryna *Book and Sword*
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4.5/5 stars

I wasn't going to round up. I mean not every Sanderson's book can be 5 stars, right? Wrong. Because when it came down to the last pages I was tearing up...So I just had to.

​I thought that maybe because this was intended for younger readers (middle to young adult) it will be duller and not as interesting as his other series that I've read so far. I thought that I will read it and just think of it as a nice stand-alone book. I thought that there couldn't have possibly been another new a
Aug 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
I think I should start every Sanderson review with: Brandon Sanderson does it again!

There is a reason this guy is one of my favorite authors, he cannot disappoint.

This book is all about expectations. It’s Sanderson’s first try at YA and he did a great job making fantasy more accessible to a younger audience. For those who are used to Sanderson’s other adult works however, this may be a disappointment. The Rithmatist is a lot shorter than his other novels, with only 370 pages, large font and nume
Dec 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc-review, 2013
After reading a bit of the initial commentary on this book, some people mentioned that maybe there was a little too much focus on the magic system. Being a huge Sanderson fan, my thoughts were along the line of: there's no way, his magic is THE reason I love his novels, there's literally NO way.

As it turns out, there does seem to be a way, although only just a bit.

The magic of The Rithmatist is as creative as ever. I've mentioned this before and I'll say it again, Sanderson's magic really takes
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
A bit too bland for my taste. I'll be back to finish.
“My life," Melody declared, "is a tragedy.” (c)
Aria ・❥・Biblioaria ˚ · .


This book was fantastic. Everything about this book oozes with awesomeness! I mean, who would have thought chalk figures could be so menacing and scary?


Has it ever crossed your mind that chalk drawings could eat you, or worse, kill you?

It hasn't for me. The concept just sounded so farfetched. Too weird.

But this is Sanderson. I shouldn't have doubted his ability t
André Oliveira
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This was good and ... different :D

I loved the magic system! Even though it wasn't as good as the others magic systems created by him (in my opinion), it was entertaining and I WANT TO BE ABLE TO DO THAT! JUST FOR FUN! We get the opportunity to know a lot about this magic system but there's still a lot we don't know and the book ends with "TO BE CONTINUED". NOOOOOOOOOO

Seems like we still need to wait a few years for a sequel :(

"So someday I will get to this, but it’s going to require some ali
Scott  Hitchcock
2.5*'s with a rare round up. I just didn't think this was the usual Sanderson quality. ...more
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of course Brandon Sanderson can do no wrong and even his Young Adult books, like this one, are really worth a read. He has this tremendous ability to keep creating new and fascinating worlds with equally fascinating science and magic.
The Rithmatists of the title are people who can use chalk to create magic wards and creatures which can in turn be used for duelling and fighting. Our main characters are Joel who is not a Rithmatist but wants to be and Melody who is one and does not care. Both char
3.5/5 stars
This was a really enjoyable read! The whole concept is so interesting - a really cool take on steampunk without actually being steam punk!
I loved the reimagined US as islands and the whole world in general.
The plot was interesting but (mostly) pretty predictable, Joel was an alright main character - not great though, and the story, while overall interesting, just didn't have enough meat to it. It was a really great concept but the actually story played out had too many pacing issues f
Oct 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know how Sanderson does it! To come up with a whole system of Rithmatics was brilliant. I didn't guess who the rogue Rithmatist was and I loved the main character Joel and his friend Melody working together. Looking forward to the sequel when it finally gets released. ...more
Aug 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Chris Lee
Shelves: top, why-eh, i-said
"Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s."

Brandon Sanderson has hit a home run here in this awesome world of chalk, just sick with possibility. He drops you into this world of chalk drawings that come to life, possess power and threaten the main protagonists, who also duel and defend in chalk.

These protagonists, the people of whom I speak, are interesting; possess a depth that contradicts Sanderson’s sparse prose. I found it easy to connect with and ca
Helen 2.0
3.5 rounded up.

Imagine a steampunk Hogwarts where Muggles and wizards study side by side. Magicians' power is derived from chalk lines and drawings that obey the maker and affect the real world.
The Rithmatist tells the story of Joel, a normal guy whose greatest wish was to become a Rithmatist, a chalk wizard.

Since Joel was not selected to learn Rithmatism, he dedicates his time to studying as much as he can about the world that's forbidden to him. Then Rithmatist students start disappearing and
Apr 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya, fantasy, mystery
I recommend Sanderson to the nth degree. N being whatever you like, because he friggin rocks. This novel rocks and I'm now convinced the man can't write a bad book. I read it through audio, but it didn't matter. The diagrams that were so essential to the action were still very clear and fascinating. Again, his magic systems soar. It was a near perfect win. ...more
Oct 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sanderson is unmatched

I loved this story although I wish I’d waited to read it because now I have to wait years before Sanderson releases the sequel. As Melody would say: this is tragic!!
Awesome YA read. I need him to write the sequel already!!!
Anna *Bran. San. Stan*
Apr 03, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Picture “Muggles” attending a magic boarding school - Joel, our 16-year-old protagonist, being one of those. There, the privileged, both “Muggles” and “Wizards” alike, learn about the magic of Rithmatics. Joel, the son of a cleaning lady, however, stands out especially: for being poor, for being a "Muggle" and for his passion to learn the principles of a magic he is not able to perform.

For the magic of Rithmatics is bestowed on some “lucky” few during a ceremony when 8 years old. Then you’ll hav
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a bit dying bc it's been almost 6 years and there's not even a publication date for the sequel but I'm so happy I picked this one up.
It was one of those books that I keep reading and with every scene I say, I hope it doesn't go that way bc it'd be so cliche, or this aspect of the book is lacking, and then the book responds and everything is amazing.
Buddy read with The girl so hip, she makes a hippopotamus looks like a regular popotamus
And no
Apr 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good ol' Sanderson. I'll be drawing chalklings and lines in my office building in the next week or so. I hope nobody cares. ...more
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Brandon’s major books for the second half of 2016 are The Dark Talent, the final volume in Alcatraz Smedry’s autobiographical account of his battle against the Evil Librarians who secretly rule our world, and Arcanum Unbounded, the collection of short fiction in the Cosmere universe that includes the Mistborn series and the Stormlight
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