Brandon Sanderson: The Rithmatist

The cover of The Rithmatist

In an interview, Brandon Sanderson mentioned that the inspiration behind The Rithmatist was, "What would it be like to be a muggle in Hogwarts?"

In the universe of The Rithmatist (an alternate Earth), certain people are chosen to be rithmatists, who can create beasts, barriers, and bolts out of chalk, and they use these skills to protect humanity from wild, animate chalklings.  Joel, the protagonist, is not a rithmatist, though he is obsessed with rithmatics.  He is the son of a chalkmaker and a cleaning lady.  At a school where everyone is either a child of the elite (senators, entrepreneurs, etc) or a rithmatist, he is very much an outsider.

The setting is interesting.  Since the magic centers on chalk circles, lines, etc, and the universe shares some of Earth's history, there are lots of fun things interspersed like Saint DaVinci.  It takes a little bit of time to get the hang of the setting, but I enjoyed it once I did.

The book is also very cohesive.  Everything was very well set up for the conclusion (which made it a bit predictable, but I don't have a problem with that).

Overall, it was a nice, fun read, and I'm looking forward to the next one!