The Rithmatist

Hardcover | May 14, 2013

byBrandon SandersonIllustratorBen Mcsweeney

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From #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson: his debut novel for the young adult audience

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.

Bestselling author Brandon Sanderson brings his unique brand of epic storytelling to the teen audience with an engrossing tale of danger and suspense-the first of a series. With his trademark skills in world-building, Sanderson has created a magic system that is so inventive and detailed that that readers who appreciate games of strategy and tactics just may want to bring Rithmatics to life in our world.
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2013 A New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of 2013

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From the Publisher

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson: his debut novel for the young adult audienceMore 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...

BRANDON SANDERSON grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska. He lives in Utah with his wife and children and teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University. In addition to completing Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time®, he is the author of such bestsellers as the Mistborn trilogy, Warbreaker, The Alloy of Law, The Way of Kings, Rithmatist, an...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:384 pages, 9.47 × 6.4 × 1.25 inPublished:May 14, 2013Publisher:Tom Doherty AssociatesLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0765320320

ISBN - 13:9780765320322

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Rithmatist I've read every book that Sanderson has written and is one of his finest. His ideas are light years ahead of his contemporaries. Can't wait to read about Joel and Melody's next battle against the chalklings.
Date published: 2015-07-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! Great quick read. I can't wait for the next book in this series. The story was an imaginative alternate reality that keeps you turning page after page steam punkish style!
Date published: 2015-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting Love interest This was an awesome read but some might think Brandon Sanderson went a bit too overboard on explaining his magic system in the beginning. I believe this was because he intends to write quite a few more novels in this series. However, the relationship between Joel and Melody was one of a kind and definitely enough to pull me through to the really exciting parts. Brandon, you always fail to disappoint me.
Date published: 2014-01-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great story in a fabulous world Thoroughly enjoyed this story. It is a great mixture of fanatsy, steampunk and mystery. Neat twist in the hero's story and great side-characters.
Date published: 2013-11-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Rithmatist is a good start. Brandon Sanderson continues to build unique and believable worlds with the start of the great teen epic series. Sanderson has always shown strength with his character creation and plausible story lines, the Rithmatist in no exception, providing a great reading experience. The world Sanderson creates is an alternate earth where much of our history has been altered because of gearpunk advancements and the existence of Rithmatics. The story takes you on a journey with a non-rithmatist, Joel as he help one of his professors solve the mystery of disappearing students from Joel's school. A great read for anyone with an imagination; well done.
Date published: 2013-10-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brandon Sanderson does it again! The book tells the story of Joel, a young student at a prestigious school where Rithmatists -- the magic users of this world -- are trained. Despite his intense interest in Rithmatics, which entails using chalk drawings to battle the ever present threat of the Wild Chalklings, Joel was not chosen to become a Rithmatist. Joel's interest in the subject eventually lands him in the thick of an investigation into the mysterious disappearances of several Rithmatist students while away from campus visiting their families. Although the Rithmatist is intended for a somewhat younger audience than most of his other novels, Sanderson succeeds again in crafting an interesting world with likeable characters and a very unique and interesting magic system. It is a very compelling read and in my opinion well worth experiencing for yourself. I highly recommend it.
Date published: 2013-08-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Quick enjoyable read Brandon Sanderson has written similar stories before but he makes each one interesting with depth and new ideas each time. This one is a light YA read, but I found it compelling and enjoyable.
Date published: 2013-07-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible One of the best books I've ever read
Date published: 2013-05-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting Love interest This was an awesome read but some might think Brandon Sanderson went a bit too overboard on explaining his magic system in the beginning. I believe this was because he intends to write quite a few more novels in this series. However, the relationship between Joel and Melody was one of a kind and definitely enough to pull me through to the really exciting parts. Brandon, you always fail to disappoint me.
Date published: 2014-01-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great story in a fabulous world Thoroughly enjoyed this story. It is a great mixture of fanatsy, steampunk and mystery. Neat twist in the hero's story and great side-characters.
Date published: 2013-11-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Rithmatist is a good start. Brandon Sanderson continues to build unique and believable worlds with the start of the great teen epic series. Sanderson has always shown strength with his character creation and plausible story lines, the Rithmatist in no exception, providing a great reading experience. The world Sanderson creates is an alternate earth where much of our history has been altered because of gearpunk advancements and the existence of Rithmatics. The story takes you on a journey with a non-rithmatist, Joel as he help one of his professors solve the mystery of disappearing students from Joel's school. A great read for anyone with an imagination; well done.
Date published: 2013-10-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brandon Sanderson does it again! The book tells the story of Joel, a young student at a prestigious school where Rithmatists -- the magic users of this world -- are trained. Despite his intense interest in Rithmatics, which entails using chalk drawings to battle the ever present threat of the Wild Chalklings, Joel was not chosen to become a Rithmatist. Joel's interest in the subject eventually lands him in the thick of an investigation into the mysterious disappearances of several Rithmatist students while away from campus visiting their families. Although the Rithmatist is intended for a somewhat younger audience than most of his other novels, Sanderson succeeds again in crafting an interesting world with likeable characters and a very unique and interesting magic system. It is a very compelling read and in my opinion well worth experiencing for yourself. I highly recommend it.
Date published: 2013-08-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down! Siege and Storm picks up almost immediately where Shadow and Bone left off, providing the reader with immediate action and many unexpected plot twists that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The inclusion of original fairy tales and mythology, coupled with exquisite food dishes, beautiful clothing, and vivid settings add even greater depth to the imaginative world of Ravka. Alina is no longer the weak, naive girl that we saw in Shadow and Bone; she’s truly coming into her own, though the journey is decidedly bittersweet. Alina begins to hone her strength and assert herself in anticipation of a fight with the Darkling, though she struggles against the desire to attain even more power – and the repercussions that it could have for herself, her relationships, and Ravka. Though I know that I shouldn’t care for him, the Darkling still holds the honour of being my favourite character in this series. He’s quite an intriguing and complex character: he’s power-hungry, manipulative, and could even be described as evil, though he also has touches of humanity that are difficult to ignore. To my dismay, his presence in this book is minimal, although he captured my full attention whenever he appeared in a scene – especially when showing off his dark new skills. A new character is introduced in Siege and Storm, and he managed to win me over with ease. Sturmhond is witty and charming, bringing much-needed touches of humour to story. He’s also incredibly well composed, calculating, and adaptive, which are necessary qualities given his agenda. And then there’s Mal. He started to grow on me towards the end of Shadow and Bone but, sadly, I didn’t like him in this book. He spends too much time feeling insecure in his relationship with Alina. I understand his reasoning – after all, she is the most powerful Grisha and he is a tracker who deserted the army – but after a while, I got tired of reading about it. Hopefully he’ll be more like his end-of-book-one-self in the sequel, since that guy was pretty adorable. If I haven’t made it clear already, I absolutely loved Siege and Storm. It’s unputdownable and the perfect example of how to write a proper middle installment. I can’t wait to see what happens in Ruin and Rising – until then, I’ll be traipsing about in my very own kefta and trying to befriend guys that look like the Darkling.
Date published: 2013-08-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Better than Great! Leigh Bardugo does not disappoint in this second instalment of the Grisha Trilogy. I really enjoyed this read! Alina's character is beautifully developed as she attains even more Grisha power and attempts to retain a little of her old self. The conflict within Alina is interesting to see unfold and her relationship with Mal becomes strained. The introduction of Sturmhund, a mysterious and unscrupulous pirate, or as he calls himself, "a privateer", is my favourite part of the story. I absolutely LOVE this character! Without giving up a key spoiler, let's just say, that Sturmhund is just FANTASTIC!!! He makes this novel come alive. While The Darkling is still centre-point to the the story, we don't really see too much of him and for this, I'm not disappointed. He is an atypical antagonist and just the threat of him is enough for me. The Darkling just doesn't have as much personality as Sturmhund and Mal. There were a few slow spots in the middle of the book, but overall, this one is a page-turner! Especially near the end. I'm looking forward to book #3. Unfortunately, I'll have to wait until 2014!
Date published: 2013-08-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Quick enjoyable read Brandon Sanderson has written similar stories before but he makes each one interesting with depth and new ideas each time. This one is a light YA read, but I found it compelling and enjoyable.
Date published: 2013-07-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved it Leigh Bardugo's debut Shadow and Bone blew me away last summer when I read it. It was absolutely incredible. I read it while driving with a couple friends to see Coldplay. It was a good trip and Shadow and Bone will forever be a part of that. I flew through the book and as soon as I was done I was eager to see what was going to happen next. Siege and Storm essentially picks up exactly where Shadow and Bone leaves off. Alina and Mal on the run from the Darkling and trying to figure out their next move. I have seen it mentioned a few times that there had been a bit of confusion because there is little recap in Siege and Storm regarding its predecessor. This is something that I generally get frustrated with as I have the worst memory for details. But I did not seem to have this problem with Siege and Storm. This could be attributed to the fact that it has been less then a year since I read Shadow and Bone, but I don't think so. I think I was so involved with the story when I read it that it all stuck with me. In saying that, I would suggest you refresh your memory with Shadow and Bone before reading Siege and Storm if you feel like you need it. One of the things that really impressed me with the first installment of Leigh Bardugo's Grisha trilogy was how creative it was. I am always so impressed with what can come from someone's mind. There are so many little details that needed to be thought out and developed. The world and all that it comes with was one of my favourite things about Shadow and Bone, and I was not disappointed with how Bardugo was able to expand it and make it more magical and more compelling to readers. She takes us someplace else throws us in and lets us enjoy the beauty of it all. There were a few twists and turns in Siege and Storm that I wasn't expecting and it was a blast to experience it all. There are a number of new characters that we are introduced to in this novel- some pleasant, others not so much. Strumhond, the privateer that we meet is my kind of character. He was sarcastic and mysterious and cocky and just plane hilarious! There were a few scenes within the book where he was involved that had be lol-ing for real. Alina goes through some major changes in Siege and Storm. She battles internally with the responsibilities of being the sun summoner and a few other things (which would get a little spoiler-y if I let it slip). It's because of these struggles that her relationship with Mal suffers a bit. I enjoyed seeing this new side of Alina. She becomes more independent and more assertive. These new developments in her character felt normal and natural. There were times, however, where I wished she would have handled these transitions better and trusted those around her more (but really who deals with change perfectly). The Darkling is absent ninety percent of the time. But this didn't bother me. While I was as enchanted with him as anyone else when reading Shadow and Bone. However, the few times he did make an appearance in Siege and Storm I didn't feel the same charm from him. Yes, he wasn't wooing Alina anymore, but there was something about him that just didn't impress me. I am curious to see what Bardugo will do with him in the next book. Overall, Siege and Storm was a perfect addition to the Grisha trilogy. The plot was wonderfully developed and had me from the very beginning and the characters were fierce and loyal. I am SO excited for everyone to get their hands on this and I am ever more excited to see what's in store for Alina, Mal and the Darkling.
Date published: 2013-06-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible One of the best books I've ever read
Date published: 2013-05-16

Extra Content

Read from the Book

CHAPTER 01"Boring?" Joel demanded, stopping in place. "You think the1888 Crew-Choi duel was boring?"Michael shrugged, stopping and looking back at Joel."I don’t know. I stopped reading after a page or so.""You’re just not imagining it right," Joel said, walking up and resting one hand on his friend’s shoulder. He held his other hand in front of him, panning it as if to wipe away their surroundings— the green lawns of Armedius Academy— and replace them with the dueling arena."Imagine," Joel said, "it’s the end of the Melee, the biggest Rithmatic event in the country. Paul Crew and Adelle Choi are the only two duelists left. Adelle survived, against all odds, after her entire team was picked off in the first few minutes."A few other students stopped on the sidewalk to listen nearby as they passed between classes."So?" Michael said, yawning."So? Michael, it was the finals! Imagine everyone watching, in silence, as the last two Rithmatists begin their duel. Imagine how nervous Adelle would have been! Her team had never won a Melee before, and now she faced down one of the most skilled Rithmatists of her generation. Paul’s team had shielded him at their center so that the lesser players fell first. They knew that would get him to the end practically fresh, his defensive circle almost completely untouched. It was the champion against the underdog.""Boring," Michael said. "They just sit there and draw.""You’re hopeless," Joel replied. "You are going to the very school where Rithmatists are trained. Aren’t you even a little interested in them?""They have enough people interested in them," Michael said with a scowl. "They keep to themselves, Joel. I’m fine with that. I’d rather they weren’t even here." A breeze ruffled his blond hair.Around them spread the green hills and stately brick buildings of Armedius Academy. Nearby, a clockwork crab continued its quiet duty, chopping at the grass to keep it level."You wouldn’t think that way if you understood," Joel said, getting out some chalk. "Here, take this. And stand here." He positioned his friend, then knelt and drew a circle on the sidewalk around him. "You’re Paul. See, defensive circle. If that gets breached, you lose the match."Joel paced back a ways on the concrete quad, then knelt and drew his own circle. "Now, Adelle’s circle was nearly breached in four places. She quickly began to shift from the Matson Defense to . . . Okay, you know what, that’s too technical. Just know that her circle was weak, and Paul had a strong, dominant position.""If you say so," Michael said. He smiled at Eva Winters as she walked past, holding books in front of her."Now," Joel said. "Paul started pounding her circle with Lines of Vigor, and she knew she wouldn’t be able to shift defenses quickly enough to recover.""Pounding . . . Lines of what?" Michael asked."Lines of Vigor," Joel said. "Duelists shoot them at each other. That’s the point; it’s how you breach the circle.""I thought they made little chalk . . . things. Creatures.""That too," Joel said. "They’re called chalklings. But that’s not why everyone remembers the 1888 Melee, even some twenty years later. It was the lines she shot. Conventional wisdom would have been for her to last as long as she could, draw out the match, make a good showing of it."He set his chalk out in front of his circle. "She didn’t do that," he whispered. "She saw something. Paul had a small weakened section on the back of his circle. Of course, the only way to attack it would be to bounce a shot off three different lines left by other duelists. It was an impossible shot. She took it anyway. She drew one Line of Vigor as Paul’s chalklings ate at her defenses. She fired it and . . ."Caught up in the moment, Joel finished drawing the Line of Vigor in front of him, raising his hand with a flourish. With surprise, he realized that some thirty students had gathered to listen to him, and he could feel them holding breaths, expecting his drawing to come to life.It didn’t. Joel wasn’t a Rithmatist. His drawings were just ordinary chalk. Everyone knew that, Joel most of all, but the moment somehow broke the spell of his story. The gathered students continued on their way, leaving him kneeling on the ground in the middle of his circle."And let me guess," Michael said, yawning again. "Her shot got through?""Yeah," Joel said, suddenly feeling foolish. He stood up, putting away his chalk. "The shot worked. She won the Melee, though her team had been lowest favored in the odds. That shot. It was beautiful. At least, so the accounts say.""And I’m sure you’d love to have been there," Michael said, stepping out of the circle Joel had drawn. "By the Master, Joel. I’ll bet if you could travel through time, you’d waste it going toRithmatic duels!""Sure, I guess. What else would I do?""Oh," Michael said, "maybe prevent some assassinations, get rich, find out what’s really happening in Nebrask. . . .""Yeah, I suppose," Joel said, pocketing his chalk, then jumping out of the way as a soccer ball shot past, followed by Jephs Daring. Jephs gave Michael and Joel a wave before chasing downhis ball.Joel joined Michael, continuing across campus. The beautiful, low green hills were topped by flowering trees, and green vines wound their way up the sides of buildings. Students darted this way and that between classes, in a variety of dresses and trousers. Many of the boys wore their sleeves rolled up in the late spring warmth.Only the Rithmatists were required to wear uniforms. That made them stick out; a group of three of them walked between buildings, and the other students casually made way, most not looking at them."Look, Joel," Michael said. "Have you ever wondered if maybe . . . you know, you think about this stuff too much? Rithmatics and all that?""It’s interesting to me," Joel said."Yes, but . . . I mean, it’s a little odd, considering . . ."Michael didn’t say it, but Joel understood. He wasn’t a Rithmatist, and could never be one. He’d missed his chance. But why couldn’t he be interested in what they did?Michael narrowed his eyes as that group of three Rithmatists passed in their grey- and- white uniforms. "It’s kind of like," he said softly, "it’s kind of like it’s us and them, you know? Leave them alone to do . . . what ever it is they do, Joel.""You just don’t like that they can do things you can’t," Joel said.That earned Joel a glare. Perhaps those words hit too close to home. Michael was the son of a knight-senator, a son of privilege. He wasn’t accustomed to being excluded."Anyway," Michael said, looking away and continuing to hike down the busy sidewalk, "you can’t be one of them, so why keep spending all of your time talking about them? It’s useless, Joel. Stop thinking about them."I can’t ever be one of you either, Michael, Joel thought. Technically, he wasn’t supposed to be at this school. Armedius was horribly expensive, and you either had to be important, rich, or a Rithmatist to attend. Joel was about as far from any of those three things as a boy could get.They stopped at the next intersection of sidewalks. "Look, I’ve got to get to history class," Michael said."Yeah," Joel said. "I’ve got open period.""Running messages again?" Michael asked. "In the hope that you’ll get to peek into a Rithmatic classroom?"Joel blushed, but it was true. "Summer’s coming up," he said. "You going home again?"Michael brightened. "Yeah. Father said I could bring some friends. Fishing, swimming, girls in sundresses on the beach. Mmmm . . .""Sounds great," Joel said, trying to keep the hopeful tone out of his voice. "I’d love to see something like that." Michael took a group each year. Joel had never been invited.This year, though . . . well, he’d been hanging out with Michael after school. Michael needed help with math, and Joel could explain things to him. They had been getting along really well.Michael shuffled his feet. "Look, Joel," he said. "I mean . . . it’s fun to hang out with you here, you know? At school? But back home, it’s a different world. I’ll be busy with the family. Father has such expectations. . . .""Oh, yeah, of course," Joel said.Michael smiled, banishing all discomfort from his expression in an instant. Son of a politician for sure. "That’s the spirit," he said, patting Joel on the arm. "See ya."Joel watched him jog off. Michael ran into Mary Isenhorn along the way, and he immediately started flirting. Mary’s father owned a massive springworks. As Joel stood on that sidewalk intersection, he could pick out dozens of members of the country’s elite. Adam Li was directly related to the emperor of JoSeun. Geoff Hamilton had three presidents in his family line. Wenda Smith’s parents owned half of the cattle ranches in Georgiabama.And Joel . . . he was the son of a chalkmaker and a cleaning lady. Well, he thought, it looks like it will be just me and Davis here all summer again. He sighed, then made his way to the campus office.Twenty minutes later, Joel hurried back down the sidewalk, delivering messages around campus during his free period. Those sidewalks were now mostly empty of students, with everyone else in class.Joel’s moment of depression had vanished the instant he’d looked through the stack. There had been only three messages to deliver today, and he’d done those quickly. That meant . . .He clutched a fourth message in his pocket, one that he himself had added without telling anyone. Now, with some time to spare because of his speed earlier, he jogged up to Warding Hall, one of the Rithmatic lecture halls.Professor Fitch was teaching in there this period. Joel fingered the letter he carried in his pocket, penned— after some nervousness— to the Rithmatic professor.This might be my only chance, Joel thought, shoving down any nervousness. Fitch was a relaxed, pleasant man. There was no reason to be worried.Joel scurried up the long flight of steps outside the vine-covered, grey brick building, then slipped in the oak door. That brought him into the lecture hall at the very top. It was shaped like a small amphitheater, with tiered seats. Schematics depicting Rithmatic defenses hung on the whitewashed walls, and the plush seats were bolted in rows along the tiers, facing toward the lecture floor below.A few of the students glanced at Joel as he entered, but Professor Fitch did not. The professor rarely noticed when he got deliveries from the office, and would ramble on for the entire lecture before realizing that a member of his audience wasn’t actually a member of the class. Joel didn’t mind that one bit. He sat down on the steps eagerly. Today’s lecture, it appeared, was on the Easton Defense.". . . is why this defense is one of the very best to use against an aggressive assault from multiple sides," Fitch was saying down below. He pointed with a long red baton toward the floor where he’d drawn a large circle. The hall was arranged so that the students could look down at his Rithmatic drawings on the ground.With his pointer, Fitch gestured toward the Lines of Forbiddance he’d affixed to the bind points on the circle. "Now, the Easton Defense is most famous for the large number of smaller circles drawn at the bind points. Drawing nine other circles like this can be time- consuming, but they will prove well worth the time in defensive capabilities."You can see that the inner lines form an irregular nonagon, and the number of arms you leave off will determine how much room you have to draw, but also how stable your figure is. Of course, if you want a more aggressive defense, you can also use the bind points for chalklings."What about Lines of Vigor? Joel thought. How do you defend against those?Joel didn’t ask; he dared not draw attention to himself. That might make Fitch ask for his message, and that would leave Joel with no reason to keep listening. So, Joel just listened. The office wouldn’t expect him back for some time.He leaned forward, willing one of the other students to ask about the Lines of Vigor. They didn’t. The young Rithmatists lounged in their seats, boys in white slacks, girls in white skirts, both in grey sweaters— colors to disguise the ever- present chalk dust.Professor Fitch himself wore a deep red coat. Thick, with straight, starched cuffs, the coat reached all the way down to Fitch’s feet. The coat buttoned up to a tall collar, mostly obscuring the white suit Fitch wore beneath. It had a militaristic feel to it, with all of those stiff lines and straps at the shoulders almost like rank insignia. The red coat was the symbol of a full Rithmatic professor."And that is why a Keblin Defense is inferior to the Easton in most situations." Professor Fitch smiled, turning to regard the class. He was an older man, greying at the temples, with a spindly figure. The coat gave him an air of dignity.Do you understand what you have? Joel thought, looking over the unengaged students. This was a class of fifteen- and sixteen- year- old students, making them Joel’s age. Despite their noble calling, they acted like . . . well, teenagers.Fitch was known to run a loose classroom, and many of the students took advantage, ignoring the lecture, whispering with friends or lounging and staring at the ceiling. Several near Joel actually appeared to be sleeping. He didn’t know their names—he didn’t know the names of most of the Rithmatic students. They generally rebuffed his attempts to chat with them.When nobody spoke, Fitch knelt and pressed his chalk against the drawing he’d done. He closed his eyes. Seconds later, the drawing puffed away, willed by its creator to vanish. "Well, then," he said, raising his chalk. "If there are no questions, perhaps we can discuss how to beat an Easton Defense. The more astute of you will have noticed that I made no mention of Lines of Vigor. That is because those are better talked about from an offensive viewpoint. If we were to—"The door to the lecture hall banged open. Fitch rose, chalk held between two fingers, eyebrows raised as he turned.A tall figure strode into the room, causing some of the lounging students to perk up. The newcomer wore a grey coat after the style of a Rithmatic professor of low rank. The man was young, with stark blond hair and a firm step. His coat fit him well, buttoned up to the chin, loose through the legs. Joel didn’t know him."Yes?" Professor Fitch asked.The newcomer walked all the way to the floor of the lecture hall, passing Professor Fitch and pulling out a piece of red chalk. The newcomer turned, knelt, and placed his chalk against the ground. Some of the students began to whisper."What is this?" Fitch asked. "I say, did I pass my lecture time again? I heard no sound for the clock. I’m terribly sorry if I’ve intruded into your time!"The newcomer looked up. His face seemed smug to Joel. "No, Professor," the man said, "this is a challenge."Fitch looked stunned. "I . . . Oh my. It . . ." Fitch licked his lips nervously, then wrung his hands. "I’m not sure how to, I mean, what I need to do. I . . .""Ready yourself to draw, Professor," the newcomer said.Fitch blinked. Then, hands obviously shaking, he got down on his knees to place his chalk against the ground."That’s Professor Andrew Nalizar," whispered a girl seated a short distance from Joel. "He gained his coat just three years ago from Maineford Academy. They say he spent the last two years fighting in Nebrask!""He’s handsome," the girl’s companion said, twirling a bit of chalk between her fingers.Down below, the two men began to draw. Joel leaned forward, excited. He’d never seen a real duel between two full professors before. This might be as good as being at the Melee!Both began by drawing circles around themselves to block attacks from the opponent. Once either circle was breached, the duel would end. Perhaps because he’d been talking about it, Professor Fitch went to draw the Easton Defense, surrounding himself with nine smaller circles touching the larger one at the bind points.It wasn’t a very good stance for a duel. Even Joel could see that; he felt a moment of disappointment. Maybe this wouldn’t be that good a fight after all. Fitch’s defense was beautifully drawn, but was too strong; the Easton was best against multiple opponents who surrounded you.Nalizar drew a modified Ballintain Defense— a quick defense with only basic reinforcement. While Professor Fitch was still placing his internal lines, Nalizar went straight into an aggressive attack, drawing chalklings.Chalklings. Drawn from Lines of Making, they were the core offense of many Rithmatic fights. Nalizar drew quickly and efficiently, creating chalklings that looked like small dragons, with wings and sinuous necks. As soon as he finished the first, it shook to life, then began to fly across the ground toward Fitch.It didn’t rise into the air. Chalklings were two-dimensional, like all Rithmatic lines. The battle played out on the floor, lines attacking other lines. Fitch’s hands were still shaking, and he kept looking up and down, as if nervous and unfocused. Joel cringed as the middle-aged professor drew one of his outer circles lopsided—a major mistake.The instructional diagram he’d drawn earlier had been far, far more precise. Lopsided curves were easy to breach. Fitch paused, looking at the poorly drawn curve, and seemed to doubt himself.Come on! Joel clenched his fists. You’re better than this, Professor!As a second dragon began to move across the ground, Fitch recovered his wits and snapped his chalk back against the floor. The gathered students were silent, and those who had been dozing sat up.Fitch threw up a long wiggly line. A Line of Vigor. It was shaped like a waveform, and when it was finished, it shot across the board to hit one of the dragons. The blast threw up a puff of dust and destroyed half of the creature. The dragon began to wriggle about, moving in the wrong direction.The only sounds in the room were those of chalk against floor accompanied by Fitch’s quick, almost panicked breathing. Joel bit his lip as the duel became heated. Fitch had a better defense, but he’d rushed it, leaving sections that were weak. Nalizar’s sparse defense allowed him to go aggressive, and Fitch had to struggle to keep up. Fitch continued throwing up Lines of Vigor, destroying the chalk creatures that flew across the board at him, but there were always more to replace them.Nalizar was good, among the best Joel had ever seen. Despite the tension, Nalizar remained fluid, drawing chalkling after chalkling, unfazed by those that Fitch destroyed. Joel couldn’t help but be impressed.He’s been fighting the wild chalklings at Nebrask recently, Joel thought, remembering what the girl had said. He’s used to drawing under pressure.Nalizar calmly sent some spider chalklings to crawl along the perimeter of the floor, forcing Fitch to watch his flanks. Next, Nalizar began sending across Lines of Vigor. The snaky lines shot across the board in a vibrating waveform, vanishing once they hit something.Fitch finally managed to get out a chalkling of his own—a knight, beautifully detailed— which he bound to one of his smaller circles. How does he draw them so well, yet so fast? Joel wondered. Fitch’s knight was a work of beauty, with detailed armor and a large greatsword. It easily defeatedNalizar’s more plentiful, yet far more simply drawn dragons.With the knight set up, Fitch could try some more offensive shots. Nalizar was forced to draw a few defensive chalklings— blob creatures that threw themselves in front of Lines of Vigor.Armies of creatures, lines, and waveforms flew across the board— a tempest of white against red, chalklings puffing away, lines hitting the circles and blasting out chunks of the protective line. Both men scribbled furiously.Joel stood, then took an almost involuntary step down toward the front of the room, transfixed. Doing so, however, let him catch a glimpse of Professor Fitch’s face. Fitch looked frantic. Terrified.Joel froze.The professors kept drawing, but that worry in Fitch’s expression pulled Joel away from the conflict. Such desperate motions, such concern, his face streaked with sweat.The weight of what was happening crashed down on Joel. This wasn’t a duel for fun or practice. This was a challenge to Fitch’s authority— a dispute over his right to hold his tenure. If he lost . . .One of Nalizar’s red Lines of Vigor hit Fitch’s circle straight on, almost breaching it. Immediately, all of Nalizar’s chalklings moved that direction, a frenzied, chaotic mess of red motion toward the weakened line.For just a moment, Fitch froze, looking overwhelmed. He shook himself back into motion, but it was too late. He couldn’t stop them all. One of the dragons got past his knight. It began to claw furiously at the weakened part of Fitch’s circle, distorting it further.Fitch hurriedly began to draw another knight. But the dragon ripped through his border."No!" Joel cried, taking another step down.Nalizar smiled, removing his chalk from the floor and standing. He dusted off his hands. Fitch was still drawing."Professor," Nalizar said. "Professor!"Fitch stopped, and only then did he notice the dragon, which continued to work on the hole, trying to dig it out enough that it could get into the center of the circle. In a real battle, it would have moved in to attack the Rithmatist himself. This, however, was just a duel— and a breach in the ring meant victory for Nalizar."Oh," Fitch said, lowering his hand. "Oh, yes, well, I see. . . ." He turned, seeming dazed, regarding the room full of students. "Ah, yes. I . . . will just go, then."He began to gather up his books and notes. Joel sank down onto the stone steps. In his hand, he held the letter he had written to give to Fitch."Professor," Nalizar said. "Your coat?"Fitch looked down. "Ah, yes. Of course." He undid the buttons on the long red coat, then pulled it off, leaving him in his white vest, shirt, and trousers. He looked diminished. Fitch held the coat for a moment, then laid it on the lecture desk. He gathered up his books and fled the chamber. The door to the ground-floor entrance clicked shut softly behind him.Joel sat, stunned. A few of the members of the classroom clapped timidly, though most just watched, wide-eyed, obviously uncertain how to react."Now then," Nalizar said, voice curt. "I will take over instruction of this class for the last few days of the term, and I will be teaching the summer elective course that Fitch had planned. I have heard reports of rather disgraceful performance among students at Armedius, your cohort in particular. I will allow no sloppiness in my class. You there, boy sitting on the steps."Joel looked up."What are you doing there?" Nalizar demanded. "Why aren’t you wearing your uniform?""I’m not a Rithmatist, sir," Joel said, standing. "I’m from the general school.""What? Why in the name of the heavens are you sitting in my classroom?"Your classroom? This was Fitch’s classroom. Or . . . it should be."Well?" Nalizar asked."I came with a note, sir," Joel said. "For Professor Fitch.""Hand it over, then," Nalizar said."It is for Professor Fitch personally," Joel said, stuffing the letter into his pocket. "It wasn’t about the class.""Well, be off with you then," Nalizar said, dismissing Joel with a wave of his hand. The red chalk dust scattered on the floor looked like blood. He began dispelling his creations one at a time.Joel backed away, then rushed up the steps and opened the door. People crossed the lawn outside, many dressed in the white and grey of Rithmatists. One figure stood out. Joel dashed down the stairs across the springy lawn, catching up to Professor Fitch. The man trudged with slumped shoulders, the large bundle of books and notes collected in his arms."Professor?" Joel said. Joel was tall for his age, a few inches taller, even, than Fitch.The older man turned with a start. "Uh? What?""Are you all right?""Oh, um, why it’s the chalkmaker’s son! How are you, lad? Shouldn’t you be in class?""It’s my free period," Joel said, reaching and sliding two of the books off the stack to help carry them. "Professor, are you all right? About what just happened?""You saw that, did you?" Professor Fitch’s face fell."Isn’t there anything you can do?" Joel asked. "You can’t let him take your classes away! Perhaps if you spoke to Principal York?""No, no," Fitch said. "That would be unseemly. The right of challenge is a very honorable tradition— an important part of Rithmatic culture, I must say."Joel sighed. He glanced down, remembering the note in his pocket. A request from him to Fitch. He wanted to study with the man over the summer, to learn as much about Rithmatics as he could.But Fitch wasn’t a full professor any longer. Would that matter? Joel wasn’t even certain the man would take a non-Rithmatic student. If Fitch wasn’t a full professor, might he have more time for tutoring students? Thinking that immediately made Joel feel guilty.He almost pulled the letter out and gave it to the man. The defeat in Fitch’s face stopped him. Perhaps this wasn’t the best time."I should have seen this coming," Fitch said. "That Nalizar. Too ambitious for his own good, I thought when we hired him last week. There hasn’t been a challenge at Armedius for decades. . . .""What will you do?" Joel asked."Well," Fitch said as they walked along the path, passing under the shade of a wide-limbed red oak. "Yes, well, tradition states that I take Nalizar’s place. He was hired on as a tutoring professor to help remedial students who failed classes this year. I guess that is my job now. I should think I’ll be happy to be away from the classroom to have some peace of mind!"He hesitated, turning to look back toward the Rithmatic lecture hall. The structure was block- shaped, yet somehow still artistic, with its diamond patterns of grey bricks forming the vine-covered wall."Yes," Fitch said. "I will probably never have to teach in that classroom again." He choked off that last part. "Excuse me." He ducked his head and rushed away.Joel raised a hand, but let him go, still holding two of the professor’s books. Finally, Joel sighed, turning his own course across the lawn toward the campus office building."Well," he said softly, thinking again of the crumpled paper in his trouser pocket, "that was a disaster." 978-1-4668-3696-9 Copyright © 2013 by Dragonsteel Entertainment, LLCReading and Activity Guide copyright © 2013 by Tor Books

Bookclub Guide

ABOUT THE RITHMATISTMore 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. Bestselling author Brandon Sanderson brings his unique brand of epic storytelling to the teen audience with an engrossing tale of danger and suspense-the first of a series. With his trademark skills in worldbuilding, Sanderson has created a magic system that is so inventive and detailed that readers who appreciate games of strategy and tactics just may want to bring Rithmatics to life in our world. ABOUT THIS GUIDE The information, activities, and discussion questions which follow are intended to enhance your reading of The Rithmatist. Please feel free to adapt these materials to suit your needs and interests.

Editorial Reviews

"Illustrations from McSweeney, fiesty characters, and a complex plot likely to unwind over several volumes, this high-spirited, exciting story will appeal to readers of all ages." -Publishers Weekly starred review"Fantasy readers should devour this well-crafted mix of action and setup, enriched by thoroughly detailed cultural and historical background and capped by a distinctly unsettling twist." -Kirkus starred review"The Rithmatist contains some very good surprises on the way to a pleasingly nifty conclusion." -New York Times Book Review"The Rithmatist, while it's definitely as clear and exciting as a YA novel should be, is every bit as deep and richly invented as the best of Sanderson's adult novels.. Sanderson at his best, for adults and young readers alike." -Orson Scott Card"Brandon Sanderson has created an ingenious new martial art where the chalk is mightier than the sword. In his alternative, dangerous version of the world, brave young soldiers must battle back dark forces armed with the nerves of a warrior and the skills of an artist. It's a fun read with a unique take on fighting where if you can't draw.you die." -D.J. MacHale, New York Times bestselling author of Pendragon and SYLO."There are very few authors about whom I can say, without a doubt, that I will read every single book they ever write. Brandon Sanderson is a member of that club. He's brilliant and has an imagination I've only seen in the likes of Stephen King and J.K. Rowling." -James Dashner, New York Times bestselling author of The Maze Runner"Brimming with wit, mystery, and enough ideas to make ten other books jealous, The Rithmatist is boldly entertaining and wildly original. Armedius Academy is the first magic school that really teaches magic--the chalk-based Rithmatics, both a mystic science and a delightful visual art--and I have never had more fun learning anything. The creepy climax had me on the edge of my seat, and the slam-bang finish made me stand up and cheer." -Dan Wells, author of I Am Not a Serial Killer and Partials