Wednesday, 17 April 2019
Review of The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
I have recently finished my fourth or fifth read-of/ listen-to The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson (published in 2013) - which has taken its place as one of a handful of children's fantasy books that I genuinely love (others in this select group being The Hobbit, Narnia, Wind in the Willows, and The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander).
The Thing about The Rithmatist is that it is technically unfinished; as the book was intended to be the first of a trilogy. And in reality is never can be finished - at least not in the same fresh carefree style of this first volume.
Brandon Sanderson tried to write a second volume, but apparently got blocked by worries/ threats relating to political correctness - he calls them sensitive topics - apparently about writing about a re-imagined history of Native Americans. If there is one thing that absolutely blocks writing in a fresh and carefree way, it is trying to be sensitive about the 'concerns' of evilly-motivated Leftist activists...
So even if the trilogy gets completed in terms of plot and event, it cannot now be done in the style of the first volume (not least due to a seven plus year gap in which Branderson has published a very large number of other works).
Luckily, The Rithmatist works just fine as a stand-alone volume. There is a lot of humour, likeable characters, adventure and peril - set in a 'clockpunk' universe with a highly original yet convincing hard-magic system, based on animated chalk pictures (!).
It has, like Tolkien, a wonderful sense of 'depth' to the story - with all kinds of convincing hints of a deep backstory; including serious religious elements - since, unusually for a modern fantasy - there is a very Christian-like religion at the heart of the story (Sanderson is an active Mormon).
Best of all, The Rithmatist has a Good Heart; it is a warm and humane book - as must be all those books that I really cherish.