Friday, August 21, 2015

The Rithmatist

I have become a true fan of the fantasy genre. However, over the past year I have been introduced to Brandon Sanderson and he has set a mark that few others that I have read can match. Sanderson's writing has just blown me away with its originality, its whimsy, its compelling and true-to-life characters, its broad-reaching themes, its thought-provoking systems of magic, and above all else, its wonderful ability to tell a story that pulls me in deeply. In short, he has become one of my favorite authors. In my most recent Sanderson read, The Rithmatist, my opinions of him have only inured.

The story takes place at Ardemius Academy, a school for the training of the best and brightest young minds. The Academy is one of eight in the land that trains Rithmatists, soldiers who possess a unique ability to control lines drawn in chalk, who are essential in defending mankind against the magical savages known as Chalklings. The Academy not only serves to prepare these specially chosen children for warfare, but it also trains "ordinary" students. Joel was not selected as a Rithmatist, which was reason enough to be shunned by the elite Rithmatists, but neither is he a child of privilege like the majority of those on campus. He is allowed to attend because his father, who has served as a chalkmaster at the academy for many years, died in the line of his work. Because his father was close with the school's principal, Joel was allowed to attend. Even though Joel does not possess Rithmatic abilities, he has trained himself in their warfare. While their chalk lines actually serve a purpose in battle, Joel's are just doodles. However, his ability to drawn and to understand tactics is keen.

Joel gets a chance to make a difference and rise above his station when Rithmatists from the Academy begin to disappear and it is believed that a skilled Rithmatist is behind these actions. Joel has so focused his life on studying the art of these warriors that his insight and his passions prove to be quite valuable in uncovering the one responsible. In the aftermath of this harrowing and life-threatening adventure, Joel realizes that his efforts only represented victory in a minor skirmish, and that the main battle actually lies ahead.

The Rithmatist reaches a natural climax and conclusion, but it sets itself up well for the next part of the story which is expected to be released at some time next year. I eagerly look forward to the next chapter in this tale.