During the summer months, I go through audiobooks faster than at any other time of year, and I’m not the only one! Most people are more likely to pick up an audiobook and give it a try in the summer, probably because family road trips are such an ideal time to discover this new way of enjoying books. A few weeks ago, I finished an audiobook that I wasn’t expecting to like, but that ended up being exactly what I was looking for – a captivating listen that had me discovering a cool new world, which means that I had to share it with our faithful readers.
The name Brandon Sanderson became familiar to me when he took over writing the end of Robert Jordan’s mega-series The Wheel of Time. Sanderson is a fairly prolific writer, but I had never read one of his original novels, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up the audiobook for The Rithmatist. First off, if you have read The Rithmatist, it may seem like an odd decision to listen to a book that relies a lot on drawings and diagrams in the novel (so much so that there is an illustrator), but it really worked!
In The Rithmatist, Sanderson introduces us to a world where Wild Chalklings, two-dimensional creatures who eat human flesh, are held at bay by Rithmatists, magicians who can transform chalk drawings into defenses and attacks. Joel, the main character, is fascinated by Rithmatists; he spends all his free time studying Rithmatic tactics and strategies, to the detriment of his own school work. Joel’s fascination with that world leads him into loads of trouble, however, when he finds himself in the middle of a very serious investigation about the disappearances of Rithmatic students. Who could be harming these promising students, and how can the villain be stopped?
Joel’s investigation leads him to work with Professor Fitch, an established professor of Rithmatics whose kindly demeanor makes him a valuable friend to Joel. Joel also ends up befriending Melody, the only Rithmatics student who will give Joel the time of day. Unlike Joel, Melody doesn’t like Rithmatics and wishes she hadn’t been chosen. She is inept at drawing circles, the simplest of the Rithmatic forms, and has to be tutored by Professor Fitch for the summer session, which is how she meets Joel. Together, this unorthodox trio will try to figure out what is going on and how to stop it.
The Rithmatist was a completely unexpected and very original book. It was fun to listen to, with exciting passages, great adventures, and a really tense mystery that I didn’t manage to figure out before the big reveal. This is a great book for adventure lovers and fantasy enthusiasts. I listened to the audiobook, and the reader, Michael Kramer, was fantastic! He seemed to change effortlessly between the different characters, embodying the somewhat absent-minded Professor Fitch one moment, and the brash Nalizar a second later. When researching Michael Kramer, I discovered that he has read for loads of books, including the aforementioned Wheel of Time series. In fact, he has won the Audiophile “Earphones” award for outstanding narration!
This adventure-packed read, chalk-full of tension and danger, is a great summer selection, so think about giving this hidden gem a try next time you visit.