My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Absolutely delightful. This is a story about Joel, the son of a deceased chalk maker whose mother is a cleaning lady in an expensive famous school. Part of the school is also dedicated to teaching Rithmatists, magicians who can animate chalk figures. Joel wants to be a rithmatist more than anything, but his one chance for induction into their exclusive community was thwarted by circumstances beyond his control. Even so, he is a gifted student, a genius in fact, with many talents and more challenges. This is his story.
I love the characters, especially Fitch, Joel, his mother, and Melody. I like the setting - seems like an impending disaster between the Rithmatist haves and the commoner have-nots until you realize that being a Rithmatist may not be so wonderful. The plot is snake-like and the story ends in a great cliffhanger that makes you want more. Clearly Sanderson will return here.
Aside from the characters and the plot, the magic system is very intriguing. Sanderson does a good job of explaining the geometry of the different formations and by the end of the story, you might be drawing figures yourself (I was). Aside from that there is the alternate history of the United Isles and doubts about whether the war against the wild chalklings is justified. What are wild chalklings anyhow? What is their nature? Why are they being held in the tower?
It's all a ton of food for thought and it will linger with you long after the story is complete. This to me is a sign of a great tale. The Rithmatist delivers a concise simple tale at the surface with a hidden depth that will keep you engaged long after the story is complete - a solid win!
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