The Rithmatist (#1)

More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings. 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 learn 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.


“There are indeed secrets to be uncovered and the world to be saved, and THE RITHMATIST contains some good surprises on the way to a pleasingly nifty conclusion.”

The New York Times

“The inhumanly prolific author of the Mistborn trilogy conjures similarly baroque magic for a lapidary series opener aimed at a somewhat younger audience […] 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

“Featuring ingenious magic (complete with profuse chalk drawing–style diagrams and illustrations from McSweeney), feisty characters, and a complex plot likely to unwind over several volumes, this high-spirited, exciting story will appeal to readers of all ages.”

Publisher’s Weekly, Starred Review

“THE RITHMATIST should still easily appeal to older audiences, and it’s a great first entry into a new series that, like Sanderson’s other worlds, promises plenty of exploration, mystery, unique magic, and characters who will continue to grow far beyond the current boundaries.”


“THE RITHMATIST should appeal most to thoroughly open minds.”


“Sanderson’s first novel for the young adult set is a fascinating, fun introduction to a promising series. Joel is a likable hero whose impressively quick thinking and astonishing breadth of understanding of Rithmatics is tempered by typical teenage flaws — self-absorption, tactlessness — so he never slips into unbelievability. And Sanderson supplies his young protagonist with the perfect foil in the effervescent Melody. While the history of Rithmatics (fleshed out by Ben McSweeney’s illustrations) is intriguing, the fellowship between Joel and Melody remains the most compelling aspect of the novel. With any luck, their odd-couple friendship will continue to play a central role as the series progresses.”

RT Book Reviews

“The tale is absorbing, fun and created in an interesting world that will stretch the mind of teenagers enjoying it.”

Weekly Press

“Sanderson is one of my favorite authors, so I’m thrilled to see a YA novel from him that’s as good as his adult fantasy! The Rithmatist is one of the must-read books of the summer.”

Jack and Jill Magazine

“The story is compelling and the main characters of Joel and Melody are ones that we can relate to — even their wishes, desires, hopes, and dreams ring true […] While THE RITHMATIST is marketed for teen and young adults, I believe that it would be of interest to readers of all ages […] Highly Recommended!”


“THE RITHMATIST is a captivating, winning story with likable characters, an interesting and original magic system, and an ending that opens up rather than closes down.”

Fantasy Literature

“Very satisfying […] a fascinating world with a well-told story.”

Rated Reads

“THE RITHMATIST is an imaginative, action-packed SF/F adventure – entertaining, fun, and with oodles of future potential. In other words: get your chalk out, folks, because this is another good one from Brandon Sanderson.”

Book Smugglers

“THE RITHMATIST has easily become one of my all-time favorite young adult fantasy books and is a wonderful addition to anyone’s summer reading list. Sanderson creates a beautiful and intricate world, filled not only with magic, but with groups of people who must learn to live among each other.”

Teen Reads

“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.”

YA Books Central

“Brandon Sanderson does an amazing job of creating vividly defined worlds of magic and characters […] A brilliant start to a new series for Sanderson!”

Boswell Book Company

“Sanderson nailed the tone of how teenagers think and behave.”

Fantasy Book Critic

“THE RITHMATIST will delight a younger battalion of readers, as well as older ones who love the beauty of geometry and well-thought-out magics.”

Fantasy Faction

“I was carried away into the world of Rithmatics and thoroughly enjoyed learning about it. The book was able to pull me in and keep me there with its steam punk elements and mystery.”


“This unique fantasy fused with steampunk is a must-read for teens and adults alike. Full of mystery, suspense, intrigue – The Rithmatist is impossible to put down and refreshingly unpredictable. I’m not sure what I enjoyed more – the vivid characters, the clever story, or the rich fantasy world. Together these make for a solid and impressive novel that I wholeheartedly recommend.”

Sci Fi Chick

“The Rithmatist is fun, exciting, and perfect for readers of all ages and genders. My recommendation […] go buy a copy for yourself right now.”

Whatchamacallit Reviews

“This book is startlingly original. I have never read a fantasy book like this.”

The Bookette

“I have never read a YA book this well thought-out […] this book is amazing.”

Booking In Heels

“THE RITHMATIST is a great book, and I strongly recommend it to those who enjoy a good, quick read (only 378 page), and those who enjoy interesting fantasy worlds, whether young adult or not. I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series.”

My SF Short Short Reviews

It reads like a blend of steampunk and Harry Potter, and is compelling enough to keep you reading. A great book – and I eagerly await to see where the sequel takes us.”

The Founding Fields

“Sanderson’s newest work, The Rithmatist, is a compelling piece of Young Adult fantasy that delivers the whole way through. Sanderson hits all the right notes when it comes to all the usual YA themes; coming of age, the meaning of true friendship, loyalty, perseverance, and even a didactic against bullying.”

Best Fantasy Books

“This is a book that is incredibly easy to read with an ending that is more than satisfying and leaves the reader wanting for more.”

SF Crowsnest

“THE RITHMATIST features a really intricate magic system and an awesome world […] if you’ve enjoyed any of Sanderson’s other novels, you’ll enjoy THE RITHMATIST… an intricately-crafted fantasy/quasi-steampunk novel.”

Geek Smash

“Most writers of adult fiction trip all over themselves when they reach for younger readers. Brandon Sanderson does the opposite. I think 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. The magic system is Sanderson’s most complicated, yet it is so clearly explained that he actually makes chalk-drawn geometry thrilling! As a mystery, Sanderson plays fair. And just when you think you have it figured out, you discover that maybe you were right, maybe not – but either way, you still missed the big one. Sanderson at his best, for adults and young readers alike.”

Orson Scott Card, Hugo & Nebula Award-winning author of Ender’s Game

“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, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“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, The 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

Awards & Accolades


#6 New York Times Children’s Bestseller List


LUBIMY CZYTAĆ Readers’ Choice Finalist: 2019 “Book of the Year Awards”


Apple: “Best Teen Book of 2013”


Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Award Nominee


New York Times: “Notable Childrens Book of 2013”


Kirkus: “Best of 2013”


ABC Best Books for Children & Teens Too


Goodreads: “Best of 2013”


SF Book Club Selection


Booklist: “Fantasy titles for tweens and teens, featuring magic schools”