Characters: The Rithmatist

This page is for characters from The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson. WARNING! All spoilers are UNMARKED!

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Joel Saxon

As drawn on the cover by Eamon O'Donoghue.

The main character of the novel. The son of a cleaning lady and a chalkmaker, Joel is neither the scion of powerful or influential people nor, to his great regret, a Rithmatist. He attends Armedius academy due to a scholarship granted to him by Principal York after his father's death eight years previous to the beginning of the book.

  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: A schoolboy variety, with Melody. He comments several times during the book that she would be quite pretty - if she weren't so annoying.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: He's quite bright, and is in fact something of a savant when it comes to math and Rithmatic theory, but his obsession with Rithmatics leads him to neglect other coursework - he's failed at least one course every semester since he started at the Academy.
  • Disappeared Dad: Died 8 years ago after a railroad accident. Apparently, at least. Joel's mother let slip that this might not have been an accident.
  • Fanboy: Joel obsesses over Rithmatics, and is actually better at both drawing Rithmatic figures and strategizing than most of the students. It's a shame he doesn't actually have any Rithmatic power himself...
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Obsesses over Rithmatic theory, partially due to his own father's interest in the subject. His biggest regret is that he can't actually use what he knows - he has no true Rithmatic ability.
  • Missed the Call: Joel could have been a Rithmatist, but something happened to keep the process from happening properly… both times.


Melody Muns

Melody and Joel in the book trailer.

A red-haired Rithmatist the same age as Joel. While she's an excellent artist (and thus exceptional at using Lines of Making to summon Chalklings), she's VERY poor at the geometric aspects of Rithmatics - so poor, in fact, that she winds up in a remidial course with Professor Fitch over the summer.

  • Girly Girl: Her defensive chalklings are unicorns, which she doodles alongside castles instead of taking notes, describing them as an "elegant and noble creature" whenever Joel speaks against them. She also mentions wanting to use pink chalk.
    • Also inferred, Word Of God explaining that "in The Rithmatist, one of the things [he] wanted to do was write a female character who is more girly, so to speak. [He] wanted to make her a strong protagonist in a way that does not undermine her femininity."
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Melody resents her Rithmatic powers, which she never asked for, because it means she's essentially been conscripted to train to fight the Wild Chalklings, and she doesn't actually have much skill at drawing defenses or strategizing. In this, she acts as a perfect Foil for Joel:
  • Took a Level in Badass: A minor example, but halfway through the novel Joel shows her an exotic strategy that takes full advantage of her incredible skill with chalklings while minimizing the damage caused by her problems with the other lines.
  • Tsundere: Again, seems to be going here with Joel.
  • The Unfavourite: Not explicitly stated, but strongly implied, due to her lack of skill compared to her older siblings.


Professor Fitch

One of Armedius Academy's foremost Rithmatics professors. A scholar, teacher, and historian rather than a warrior, Fitch doesn't have the nerves to be much of a combatant, but he's a brilliant theorist.

  • The Cavalry: Helps rescue Melody and Joel from the Scribbler in the final confrontation. It's Exceedingly awesome.
  • Dual Wielding: The climax has Fitch with a piece of chalk in each hand. It's more badass than it sounds.
  • The Obi-Wan: Older? Check. Teaches the protagonist? Check. Not the hero? Check (mostly, see above).


Professor Andrew Nalizar

An ambitious new Rithmatics professor. Tall, handsome, and arrogant, he tends to rub almost everybody the wrong way - especially Joel, who immediately suspects him when unusual events start taking place.

  • Affably Evil: When Joel realizes he was the mastermind behind the Scribbler plot, he drops the Jerkass Façade, calmly admits it (while noting Joel won't be able to prove it, and would look like an idiot trying), explains a few other minor plot points, and even apologizes to Joel for repeatedly failing to recognize him.
    Nalizar: I have trouble telling the difference between those of you who are not Rithmatists, you see. You all look so alike.
  • The Chessmaster: Arranged for the entire plot of the first book to happen in order to gain trust and authority at Armedius, thereby putting himself in charge of the training of the next generation of Rithmatists to be shipped out to Nebrask.
  • Dead All Along: The real Professor Nalizar died in Nebrask.
  • Expy: of Professor Snape. Arrogant, cruel, very powerful at his magic, always suspiciously seeming to be involved in the bad things going on, and yet held to be above suspicion by the authority figures. In the climax, Joel catches him red-handed, mixed up deeply in the attack on the school, and douses him with chalk-destroying acid, only to find that the real bad guy is the federal investigator, and Nalizar was trying to fight him off. Climactic chalk-battles ensue, and in the end, he's defeated, and Joel has to admit that Nalizar really was a hero and a good guy after all... only to discover, a few days later, that there were two villains, and Nalizar helped take down his compatriot so as to establish himself as above suspicion in the very organization that is training the people who will be fighting the bad guys.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Subverted, Double Subverted, and then triple subverted. Ultimately averted entirely: Nalizar isn't actually Good at all.
  • Intrigued by Humanity: The creature using Professor Nalizar's body is observing humans, and was ultimately trying to stop new Rithmatists from being created so that they'll be helpless against the wild chalklings, forgotten shadows and whatever powers are controlling them.
  • Worthy Opponent: Once he finally sees Joel fighting in the Melee he seems to upgrade him to this status.


Inspector Harding

The Federal Inspector assigned to investigate the disappearances at Armedius. A stiff but well-intentioned man still adjusting to life away from the front lines at Nebrask.
  • By-the-Book Cop: More than technically necessary, due to his military experience.
  • Demonic Possession: By one of the Forgotten Shadows.
  • Manchurian Agent: Due to the above-mentioned possession. Unlike Nalizar, he seems not to be completely taken over - he's himself during the daytime, and once he's exorcised he seems fine.
  • The Mole: See above.



One of the clerks in Armedius's office building. A friend of Joel's mother and a bit of a gossip, which makes her a useful, if somewhat hazardous source of information.

  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Exton - she treats him like a humorless fuddy-duddy and delights in distracting and annoying him, but is one of his foremost advocates when he's accused of being the Scribbler.



The other clerk in the Armedius office. Portly, mostly humorless, but secretly fond of Joel and Florence.

  • Clear Their Name: The subject, rather than the one working to do the clearing.
  • Red Herring: He's actually 100% innocent of the crimes.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Florence - He constantly complains about her interruptions and annoyances, but is glad to see her once he's released from prison.


Principal Thomas York

The head of Armedius Academy, York is a brilliant administrator and a kindly man. He is friends with Professor Fitch and was once friends with Joel's father, and thus is somewhat softer with both than another administrator might be.

  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Played refreshingly straight. York manages to juggle the egos of the powerful students and parents at his school and still keep the place running well.