Starred Reviews: The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

“Featuring ingenious magic (complete with profuse chalk drawing–style diagrams and illustrations from McSweeney), feisty characters, and a complex plot likely to unwind over several volumes, this high-spirited, exciting story will appeal to readers of all ages.”

Publishers Weekly

“Fantasy readers should devour this well-crafted mix of action and setup, enriched by thoroughly detailed cultural and historical background and capped by a distinctly unsettling twist.”

Kirkus Reviews

The Rithmatist, by Brandon Sanderson, gets starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews!*

Here’s the full Publishers Weekly review, from the March 25 issue:

 Bestselling author Sanderson’s first YA novel is a delightful fantasy set in an alternate early 20th-century America made up of 60 loosely federated islands protected by Rithmatists, who use powerful chalk-drawing magic to hold at bay the voracious wild chalklings. These mysterious, two-dimensional creatures from the dangerous island of Nebrask would wipe out the nation if they ever broke loose. Sixteen-year-old Joel attends Armedius Academy, a noted school for Rithmatists, as a general student; he has studied the intricate, magical chalk patterns his whole life, but missed his chance to become a Rithmatist. As his more talented schoolmates begin to disappear, apparently killed or kidnapped by wild chalklings, Joel; his new friend Melody, an incompetent young Rithmatist; and Fitch, their recently disgraced professor, become involved in a desperate attempt to avoid more bloodshed and save their schoolmates. Featuring ingenious magic (complete with profuse chalk drawing–style diagrams and illustrations from McSweeney), feisty characters, and a complex plot likely to unwind over several volumes, this high-spirited, exciting story will appeal to readers of all ages. Ages 12–up. Author’s agent: Eddie Schneider, JABberwocky Literary Agency. (May)

And here’s the full Kirkus review, from the May 1 issue:

 The inhumanly prolific author of the Mistborn trilogy conjures similarly baroque magic for a lapidary series opener aimed at a somewhat younger audience.

Set on an alternate, steampunk Earth among the many squabbling United Isles of America, the tale pits Joel, teenage son of a poor chalkmaker, and allies against mysterious baddies who are snatching students of exclusive Armedius Academy. Among other subjects, the Academy teaches Rithmatics—a geometry-based system of offensive and defensive shapes chalked on flat surfaces and then animated by those endowed with a special magical ability in a ceremony as children. Though he himself cannot bring his figures to life like a true Duster, years of obsessive study have made Joel a brilliant theorist and designer. His skills plunge him into the middle of the kidnapping investigation and ultimately lead to hints of a larger plot to release floods of deadly wild “chalklings” against humanity. Stay tuned. Between (and occasionally within) every chapter, labeled diagrams and smaller drawings lay out an elaborate but generally logical set of rules and behaviors for Rithmatical attack and defense.

Fantasy readers should devour this well-crafted mix of action and setup, enriched by thoroughly detailed cultural and historical background and capped by a distinctly unsettling twist. (Fantasy. 10-13)

The Rithmatist will be published on May 14th.

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