Monday, September 07, 2015

The Rithmatist

I read the Rithmatist immediately after reading Elantris. Both had a lot in common, but they were very different novels. Elantris is a long "Epic Fantasy" set in a distant world. The Rithmatist is a shorter more modern young adult fantasy novel. However, both deal with magic caused by writing. People are "chosen" to practice the magic and can't elect themselves.

A rithmatist is a person that can fight battles with chalk drawings. Certain structures can provide defensive fortifications, while Chalklings can be sent out as attackers. People that are chosen to be rithmatists complete special studies in the art of drawing all the needed structures. After graduating, they then spend time out on the battlefield, defending the society from the wild Chalklings. Non-rithmatists can try to draw the same shapes, but they wont have any of the magical properties that the rithmatist shapes have.

The protagonist of the Rithmatist, Joel, is a school boy who attends an elite private school with a "rithmatist department." His father was a chalk-maker at the school who died in an accident. Joel, like his father is not a rithmatist, but has an intense interest in studying rithmatics. He likes to sneak into rithmatics classes and has a knack for the rithmatic structures. He often runs into Melody, a rithmatist who struggles with rithmatics and prefers to draw unicorns. Together with a professor, they help solve a case of disappearing students.

The novel is set in a universe somewhat resembling ours, but different. The world is now made up of various islands and the technology has evolved somewhat differently. (Writing is obviously more important, in part due to the "chalklings". In the story, "lower class" boy meets up with with "upper class, but doesn't want to be" girl. They end up using their skills to solve the big mystery and become the community's heroes. It took a little while to get into, but left me wanting more stories in this universe.

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