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The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1)

4.24  ·  Rating Details ·  34,419 Ratings  ·  4,721 Reviews
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson: his debut novel for the young-adult audience.

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—m
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…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

(showing 1-30)
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Dec 10, 2014 Patrick 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
May 14, 2013 Mitch 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
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!"
Hasham Rasool
Must read 'The Rithmatist' for those who are:
huge fan of Sanderson
huge fan of fantasy books
children (10 years old+)

The magics of Rithmatics are very strange because I haven't seen this kind of magic before.

The Rithmatist is an usual book. I haven't read this kind of fantasy book.

This book has mixtured genres: fantasy, crime and mystery.

My favourite characters are Joel and Melody.
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
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
Chantal  (Every Word A Doorway)
Aug 06, 2015 Chantal (Every Word A Doorway) rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
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 seak 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


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 to make som
Jan 06, 2014 Regan 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.
Aug 13, 2013 Arah-Lynda rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Chris Lee
Shelves: top, i-said, why-eh
"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 car
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
Scott  Hitchcock
If you like YA you'll love this book. If you don't you'll probably struggle. It's your basic fantasy story and I'll definitely have my kids read it. I liked it and the ending was multilayered and very enjoyable.

3.5*'s and looking forward to the sequel.
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 04, 2017 Rob 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.
Franco  Santos
Nov 06, 2014 Franco Santos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Otra gran obra del escritor de Nacidos de la bruma. En esta me cautivó nuevamente con un sistema de magia inteligente e innovador excelsamente desarrollado.

La historia comienza con un ritmo rápido pero profundo. De entrada ya sabía que, una vez más, Sanderson me iba quitar horas de sueño. Y no me equivoqué: El rithmatista no me dio descanso. Es un relato lleno de misterio y, aunque resulte extraño, un poco de terror.

Siento que Sanderson pudo haber explotado mucho más lo que creó. Podría haber
Awesome YA read. I need him to write the sequel already!!!
Well, how can I put this gently.... it's an easy, entertaining read. I certainly enjoy most things about this book... all except for the chalkling things. The writing is brilliant. And honestly, I loved the story as a whole. Just when it came to the chalklings being these big scary things that have terrorized the world, I wasn't feeling it. If you took them out and replaced them with some other magical system it would have been a phenomenal story. It just seemed too far fetched. I just could not ...more
Experiment BL626
Great fantasy. It was one of the best Young Adult fantasies I have read this year. Unfortunately, a couple of things kept me from rating the book as high as I would have liked.

My Dislikes

+ the world building

First, the world building could have been conveyed more clearly. At first I thought it was complete fantasy, but once I realized it was in an alternative history setting, I thought it was in England, i.e. UK. It was not until the middle of the book that I finally goddamn realized it was actua
Jul 09, 2014 Shandra rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unable-to-finish
WARNING: If you are a major Sanderson fan, and can't stand reading negative feelings and thoughts about his books, you may wanna steer clear of this review. I'm writing it on the fly, going with whatever comes to me, and I make zero promises that it won't offend you. If you're so diehard that you're a troll, find some other review space to voice your fandom. I'm not hating on Sanderson; I loved Steelheart after all.

DNF at 35%. This makes exactly 13 books I've ever DNFed in my life. That oughta
Eon ♒Windrunner♒
Short review:
All you really need to know is that Brandon Sanderson wrote this.
If you have read him before then you are nodding knowingly and my work here is done.
If you have not, then you are missing out on one of the greatest imaginations living today. Go buy a copy of Mistborn and then after you have read that and probably also binge-read all his other books, return here and nod knowingly.

Longer review:
Rithmatics : definition
A magic system that uses chalk circles, lines, and drawings known as
Liz* Fashionably Late
BR with Emma's friends! :D

What is it with Sanderson and everything he writes? The more I read his books, the more convinced I am he's not from this world. His creativity amaze me every time!

If Harry Potter, CSI Sanderson and Steampunk had a baby, it wouldn't be this book but it would be a close call.

The Rithmatist is a very light book for Sanderson standards. It's YA after all, so while the magic system and world building are perfection, the story is simple and captivating at the same time, so
Sep 25, 2012 Jonathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Neil Gaiman, Fans of Brandon Sanderson, Fans of fantasy

The Rithmatist is being marketed as the latest Young Adult novel from fantasy author Brandon Sanderson. Labels aside this book is a classy, mature novel that easily bridges the reading divide, being accessible for 10 year old readers up to senior pensioners. As a novel, this fictional work takes some of the elements that make Neil Gaiman so appealing to multiple audiences and merge them with Brandon Sanderson's consistently improving style. In many regards this is Brandon Sanderson's best work t
Jan 07, 2013 Nermin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Brandon Sanderson fans, possibly HP fans
Shelves: favorite-author, ya, 2013
Wow, just, wow. Mr Sanderson and another great book. This time it is a YA book which is as enjoyable and fun as his fantasy works.

In the Rithmatist Sanderson goes and creates another incredible well thought out, original and very detailed magic system based on chalks, mathematics and geometry. At this point I'm convinced that BS will write about anything, base his magic on anything and manage to come across as unique and interesting. The characters and the story often reminded me Harry Potter bo
Oct 26, 2016 Aristea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brandon Sanderson is a safe bet when you want an entertaining book, fantasy, action packed and easy to read.
This book certainly did not disappoint!

(view spoiler)
Evelyn (devours and digests words)
4.5 stars

The Rithmatist is Full Metal Alchemist meets Harry Potter.

Except that there are no mean ass bullies here (Draco Malfoy-like) which is so refreshing for once.

Reading this is like studying a school textbook at some point. And no, I don't mean that it's boring. It's not. If anything it's entertaining as fuck. There are snippets of explanations (Mr Sanderson sonehow managed to add in a little bit of geometry, too) regarding the magic system and along with the explanations, there are cu
I'm never surprise that every book that Brandon Sanderson produces accomplishes to take me on the most unexpected yet most exhilarating journeys. The storyline was unique and I wonder how those he keep imagining such creative and beautiful worlds.

The characters ( all of them ) were great. Joel, Fitch, Melody, Harding and Nalizar were full of life and I connected to them in varying ways. Hardings character was a constant source of comic relief to me.

Now for the biggy....that ending, hmmm, I thi
Xime García
Sep 08, 2015 Xime García rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reseñados
(view spoiler)

Y con este libro culmino mi año Sandersonista. Siendo el onceavo libro que leo de él este 2015, creo que va siendo hora de dejarlo de lado. Por mi propio bien.

¡La pasé muy bien leyéndolo! Me divertí porque me hacía acordar mucho a Harry Potter. Oh, vamos: academia de magia + misterio dando vueltas + un profesor onda Snape + un viejito onda Dumbledore = a Xime le va a gustar sí o sí. El sistema de magia inventado puede son
Chuurun Ien
3,5 stars

Okay so, I can't really tell what I'm feeling about this book.
I'm not in love with it.
But I kinda want to read it again.
And I can't wait for the next book.
But some things in this book irked me also.

Unimportant (and probably untrue anyway) things:
- This book reminds me of Full Metal Alchemist manga in terms of gear/steam-punk technology and the science of magic circles.
- Also of Attack on Titan, in ways of revealing the truth, shocking layer by layer. I'm kind of suspicious that fu
I’ve been singing Sanderson’s praises for a while now. It is no secret that he’s one of my favourite authors. One of the reasons I love his books so much is because every one of his magic systems are filled with such depth and complexity and are some of the most developed in epic fantasy. I had no idea what he could possibly pull out of his bag of tricks next, but I knew that whatever came next would be unparalleled. I was right.

The Rithmatist is something else; something new and something creat
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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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“... everyone knows that ice cream is worth the trouble of being cold. Like all things virtuous, you have to suffer to gain the reward.” 87 likes
“Joel, lad, school is about learning to learn. If you don't practice studying things you don't like, then you'll have a very hard time in life.” 42 likes
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