published in 2013
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, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students learn 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.
I probably repeat myself here, but the magic system in this book is again extraordinary and far from any I’ve seen before. It is amazing how detailed it is and how logical, although we still don’t know everything about it and exactly how people become Rithmatists remains an interesting mystery. I am pretty sure though that it will be revealed in the next books as Sanderson already gave us hints. The book is also written for younger readers and not as detailed and big as his Stormlight Archive or the Mistborn Trilogy for example. That doesn’t make it worse though, as the world is still pretty entertaining and colourful as an alternative version of our earth. There are some similarities but also lots of differences like the mechanic horses people use for transportation.
The action takes place in a school for Rithmatists but also normal kids, mostly those who have powerful and rich parents. I got the Harry Potter vibes more than once – and that is not a bad thing! The story contains 3 main characters – Joel, through whose eyes we see most of the story, Professor Finch and Melody, a rithmatic student who would rather do something else with her life.
Joel is neither rich nor a Rithmatist – but because of his father, who was the chalkmaster, he is allowed to stay and study at the school. He is interested in everything concerning Rithmatists but himself doesn’t have the ability to make chalk drawings come alive. This makes him appear like a normal, nerdy guy and made him very likeable although he can be quite arrogant sometimes. Melody is a weird drama-queen, but still I liked her character as she was so different from all the other kids.
What I like a lot as well is that the growing friendship between Joel and Melody plays a big role instead of a love story. Well done!
My favourite character though was probably old Professor Finch who used to teach Rithmatic Defences and becomes Joel’s mentor who is also charged with finding out why Rithmatic students are disappearing…
I loved his character so much! He is wise, kind but also scared of confrontations and confused. I felt soo sorry for him in the beginning of the book and was so proud of him towards the end! Those are all characters the reader can relate to and feel with.
The main story is a bit like a crime tale as students keep disappearing and strange Rithmatic lines are discovered where they appeared last. It keeps the tension high throughout the whole story and not everything is as it seems. There are some nice surprises and twists in the end and although it’s going to be a trilogy the main story has a conclusion.
I loved it and can’t wait for the next part, which I will probably read immediately.