Reading Level: Middle Grade
Size: 384 pages
Publisher: Tor Teen
Date: May 14, 2013
Stand Alone or Series: 1st in the Rithamist series
Source: Audiobook through Audible.com
Rating: 4/5 stars
I got a copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program to review. Thanks to Amazon Vine and Tor Teen for allowing me the chance to review this book. I am a huge fan of Sanderson and have read most of the books he has written and really enjoyed them. I was very excited to see a middle grade fantasy being released by him. This book starts out very slow and was kind of a drag in the beginning, however the last third was excellent and absolutely fascinating. The second book in this series is scheduled for a 2015 release.
Joel is a chalkmaker’s son attending Armedius Academy, he gets to go to school there as a favor to his parents. What Joel really wants though is to be a Rithmatist. The Rithmatist’s are the only ones who can fight the Wild Chalklings. When Rithmatist students start disappearing in the night leaving only trails of blood, Joel and his friend Melody are drawn into the investigation. Joel ends up helping one of the Rithmatist professors do research in a desperate effort to solve the case before more students disappear.
This book starts out very slow and takes a ton of time explaining the complicated magic system. If you stick with it though it does get very good in the second half of the book. The book has a bit of a Harry Potter feel to it but all fighting/magic is dependent on geometry; hence the Rithamatists that practice this type of magic.
As with many of Sanderson’s book this book has a very well thought out, detailed, and complex magic system. In fact maybe it was a little bit too complex. The magic system is explained in detail and there are detailed diagrams throughout the book to aid in this explanation. All of the explanation is very important so that when the book does finally get to the some excellent fighting scenes, you can actually understand what’s going on.
Unfortunately all of this magic system explanation really makes the beginning drag on, I had a very very hard time paying attention and staying focused on the story because it took so long for the plot to get going.
Joel is a decent character, very down to earth and a bit selfish at times. I didn’t engage with him all that well, but then I am not really the target audience for this. He was interesting to read about and likable enough. Melody is very quirky, she sounds very awkward throughout the book and is very offbeat. I also had trouble engaging with her initially, but as the story continued she started to grow on me.
The mystery and plot is well done. Beware though this is just the beginning of a much larger story. As the book continues it gets very very good. The pieces of the mystery start to come together and we finally get to see this awesome and complex magic system in action. The wonderfully paced and action filled ending to this book made it worth suffering through the first half of this book. By the end of this first book I was completely engaged in this world and really wanted to know what would happen next.
Overall this is probably the weakest Sanderson book I have read so far, but I really really love all of his other books…so even if this is the weakest one he’s written it is still a good book. The pacing is just very slow in the beginning and the characters were a bit hard to engage with. I did really enjoy the magic system and the world though. The end of the book made up for the poor beginning, and by the time I got to the end I was dying to read more about this world. I would recommend this to fans of MG/YA fantasy, it starts slow but I bet this is going to be an excellent series.