Tag Archives: Sanderson

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson : Review


More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Chosen by the Master in a mysterious inception ceremony, Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings — merciless creatures that leave mangled corpses in their wake. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.

As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students study the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing — kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery — one that will change Rithmatics — and their world — forever.

The Rithmatist, the first book in Brandon Sanderson’s YA series, was an enjoyable read, with an interesting concept. In The Rithmatist, the magic system is unlike any I’ve read before —  based on chalk drawings which can come to life when drawn by certain people, and have the power to kill. All of this is explained quite well, and clarified through the use of diagrams which helped to enrich the story.

As I said, this was an interesting concept. While reading a story about people who are able to magically draw chalk figures and circles might sound a bit odd, I always find myself looking forward to what Sanderson writes, and what magic systems he comes up with. Though different than his typical style, The Rithmatist did not disappoint, and the back story he created for it — which, not fully revealed in this novel, integrates itself in the world quite nicely, which is an “alternate Earth.”  The world is set in early 20th century, mentioning a lot of familiar figures and locations — America, Europe, Da Vinci.

While I don’t typically read novels intended for young adult or young readers, I still enjoyed this novel thoroughly. Adult readers will still find this to be a satisfying read, it’s just told through a younger protagonist’s perspective.  The Rithmatist is a mix of fantasy, steampunk, alternate reality and mystery; the latter playing a huge role throughout the story. 

This definitely wasn’t among my favourite of Sanderson’s novels, though by no means does that mean it was bad. His characters were well-developed, and his protagonist was quite competent. Though, one of the main characters, Melody, grew tiresome at times, as she has a tendency to be obnoxious and self-centered, which you might say, was a bit tragic.

I don’t actually have anything negative to say about this story, it’s one I think Sanderson fans will enjoy (though, they may note the absence of a familiar face), and will appeal to younger readers. Though, as I mentioned it wasn’t my favourite of his, and I’d probably direct readers take a look at any of his other novels first, to get a real taste of Sanderson’s full writing ability.

The Rithmatist will be available on the 14th in US/Canada, and will be available everywhere May 23rd.

I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

(Update: 15/05/2013) As aforementioned, The Rithmatist isn’t my favourite of Sanderson’s works, however, since someone asked in the comments:

If you’re looking for a short read, and you’re on the edge about his writing, you can start with his novella, The Emperor’s Soul, though Legion lends itself nicely if you’re looking for one that’s off-the-wall different and fun. If you enjoy heavily descriptive novels, and you’re willing to go in for a long-term commitment, read “The Way of Kings”, it’s the first of 10, and I believe the sequel to be coming out later this year. I really enjoyed it, though, the entire novel is essentially world-building, and sets the stage for later novels, which some people dislike.

Overall though, The Mistborn Trilogy is probably the best gateway into his writing though, and none of the novels are overly long… So perhaps start with those.

The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson : Review

When the Emperor’s mind is damaged after an assassination attempt, Shai — an imprisoned Forger who has been sentenced to execution must create a Forgery of his soul within 100 days — a task that would normally take years.

With the tenuous promise of safety, Shai must work to understand the mind and heart of the Emperor, while working to uncover the true intent of her captors. One hundred days to forge a soul, to uncover the intent of her captors and to escape from the clutches of the empire.

Like in his Mistborn novels, we’re shown a character — the Emperor, a figure of power, one which our protagonist opposes, but comes to understand him to the very core of his being, and as Shai comes to understand him, so too do we come to understand her in much the same way. Developing from being a petty criminal faced with execution, to becoming a master in the arts and manipulation.

The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson is a short fantasy novella. Set in the same world as one of his other novels, Elantris, The Emperor’s Soul is a fun and enjoyable story. Sanderson continues to show his ingenuity and creativity with yet another unique magic system, and characters which draw readers into the novel.

Having magic, like Soulstamps — things able to rewrite the history of an object, and pretty much what the object itself is, is an interesting concept. Sanderson details the magic and how it works explicitly, which while it does help to give a clear image of how it works, what Shai is doing and why, it was a bit much. Normally, I thoroughly enjoy the descriptive nature of Sanderson’s works, but for a story this size it seemed to detract from the actual storyline.

Taking only a few hours to read at most, The Emperor’s Soul is a good introductory novel to Sanderson’s writing, showing beautiful examples of his characters, world building, and his ability for subtlety, plots and intrigue between characters.

While not being one of Sanderson’s best works, The Emperor’s Soul is still definitely worth the read, and has an interesting cast of characters, telling a fantastical tale where nothing is as it seems.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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