[[caption-width-right:201:If only he could [[{{Flight}} fly]].]]

->''A killer is on the loose...''

[[LiteratureOfThe2010s A 2013]] {{fantasy}} novel--the first of a series--by Creator/BrandonSanderson, ''The Rithmatist'' is one of Sanderson's 'side projects', a [[{{Franchise/TheCosmere}} non-Cosmere]] novel for young adults. It features a magic system based on geometry and which uses chalk.

The story follows Joel, a 16-year-old student of an academy -- in a seriously ClockPunk AlternateUniverse America -- that teaches this world's own brand of magic (Rithmatics), though he can't do it himself. He gets free tuition, as his mother and late father both worked for, or in association with, the school.

Joel, named for the author's eldest son for whom the book is also dedicated, is fascinated by the art of Rithmatics (though not the art involved - chalklings, the principles of which confuse him) -- with its lines of power and ability to bring chalk drawings to life -- but only a few have the gift and he is not one of them. When Rithmatic students from Joel's school start disappearing, he is keen to investigate.

Since he's not a Rithmatist, Joel seems to be safe -- but others are dying. Can he find the killer (known as the Scribbler, ''The Scribbler'' also being the original title) before the killer realizes just what a threat Joel really is?

You can read the prologue and the first five chapters [[http://www.tor.com/stories/2013/01/the-rithmatist-excerpt here]].

!!This series provides examples of:

* AcademyOfAdventure: Armedius, and AddedAlliterativeAppeal all around.
* AlliterativeName: Melody Muns, Charles Calloway.
* AlternateUniverse: The series is set on Earth... sort of. Magic exists, the action takes place in the United Isles of America (there are 60 of them, encompassing all of North America, including Canada and Mexico, and [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin as per the name,]] most of the land is underwater,) and [[ChinaTakesOverTheWorld Korea has taken over Asia and Europe.]] (It's called [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseon JoSeun]] in-universe.)
* AndNowForSomethingCompletelyDifferent: Not quite Sanderson's signature style, as [[WordOfGod he explains in the afterword]].
* ArbitraryHeadcountLimit: For some reason, there are only a certain number of Rithmatists that can exist at any one time. New ones can't be created until the old ones die.
* ArcNumber: 9
* ArtAttack: the entire basis or Rithmatics.
* BlessedWithSuck:
** Melody sees her Rithmatic gift this way. See IJustWantToBeNormal, below.
** {{Inverted}} with [[spoiler: Exton, who thinks Rithmatists are spoiled, and got kicked off the Rithmatic course because he was so bad at it (though whether the opinion ''led'' to him being expelled or was formed ''because'' of him being expelled is certainly questionable).]]
** Possibly a strange version in the case of Joel, who feels he should've been a Rithmatist, but is safe from the Scribbler because he isn't; being a non-Rithmatist is the 'gift' here.
** Joel also has a remarkable gift for Rithmatics. Too bad it's useless because he can't use it properly, and is instead only a painful reminder of that fact.
* BoardingSchool: Armedius Academy, and presumably the other Academies (there are 8 of them in the United Isles)-- this is year-round for the Rithmatic students and whenever necessary, not a requirement, for the general students.
* CapitalLettersAreMagic: The Master, Rithmatics, The Rithmatist, Shadowblazes, Forgotten Shadows, and The Scribbler. (See also SpellMyNameWithAThe below.)
* CatchPhrase: Melody's ''tragic'', which is {{lampshaded}} multiple times and sometimes {{averted}}, with a certain instance being both.
* ChalkOutline: The defenses drawn by the kidnapped acted as such, and we later find out that [[spoiler: some of the chalklings actually ''are'' the kidnapped teenagers]].
* ClockPunk: In addition to Rithmatic magic, most technology is based on clockwork, with power provided by coiled springs. Including clockwork guns. Heck, there are even clockwork lawnmowers, clockwork horses, and the legal tender is clockwork coins. Also, Leonardo Da Vinci is a canon saint.
** Implied to be justified late in the book when it's revealed that [[spoiler:wild chalklings are scared of clockwork, so it makes sense that early settlers would use it for everything]].
* ClockTower: On the cover and at the church. Clocks and their inner workings are a vital part of religion.
* ClockworksArea: Very nearly.
* ClockworkCreature: There's a fair bit of [[PurpleProse prose]] about beautiful clockwork horses, and an image of one on the [[http://jacketupload.macmillanusa.com/jackets/high_res/jpgs/9780765320322.jpg other book cover]].
* DarkerAndEdgier: Than kiddie counterpart ''WesternAnimation/ChalkZone'', {{Nickelodeon}}'s [[TastesLikeDiabetes sugary-sweet]] TurnOfTheMillennium cartoon.
* DeathWorld: Not the whole world, but Nebrask is described this way: an entire Isle overrun by Wild Chalklings, whose base is at a great tower that didn't used to always stay in the same place (apparently it'd stopped doing that for a while before the time the book takes place). All Rithmatists get conscripted to fight at Nebrask for ten years (though you can get kicked out, or do a different job there than fight), in an ongoing holding action to keep them from reaching the other isles. The backstory implies that the entire United Isles used to be overrun (or at least inhabited) by wild chalklings before the invention of Rithmatics gave humans a way to fight back.
* DemonicPossession: The apparent tactic of [[spoiler:the Forgotten Shadows]].
* DifferentWorldDifferentMovies: The Korean ([=JoSeun=]) conquest of Europe means that European cuisines, such as Italian, have been considerably influenced by East Asian ideas. Joel, of course, doesn't realize how strange it sounds to the reader.
* EmpoweredBadassNormal: [[spoiler:Harding, when he's possessed by the Forgotten.]]
* EverybodyLives: [[spoiler:Not only do all the main characters survive, but all the missing and "dead" students were actually transformed into chalkings, and reverted to normal once the Scribbler is defeated]].
* EvilCannotComprehendGood: More like "chaos cannot comprehend order," but the same basic principle is used here, both played straight and subverted. [[spoiler: Wild chalklings fear clocks because humans manage to take something inherently meaningless--the division of time into arbitrary lengths like hours, minutes and seconds--and turn it into orderly laws. But Nalizar does not fear clocks, because he's infiltrated human society and studied the system, and learned to understand the principles involved.]]
** There's some NothingIsScarier involved on all chalklings behalves with fear of the unknown. When chalklings are confused, they shy away -- like they did with Joel's chalk defenses. Wild Chalklings especially behave as such as they are not controlled by humans and are not integrated into society and so would be more confused by more of the advancements, e.g. clockwork. They soon recoil after having seen it before, though, so exposed mechanics only work effectively once (though that and Joel's rithmatic diagrams do stall them even after the first time).
* {{Fanboy}}: Joel obsesses over Rithmatics, and is actually better at both drawing Rithmatic figures and strategizing than most of the students. [[IJustWantToBeSpecial It's a shame he doesn't actually have any Rithmatic power himself...]] [[spoiler:Becomes an AscendedFanboy when he gets to compete in the Melee, and wins]].
* FormulaicMagic: Magic which is based in geometry. And is called Rithmatics.
** Can probably be compared with [[Franchise.HarryPotter Arithmancy]].
* FunctionalMagic: It's Creator/BrandonSanderson, after all. According to WordOfGod, Rithmatics is essentially a magical game of StarCraft, played with magically-animated figures drawn in chalk. Except that it's possible for the chalk figures to affect the real world, and feral ones ("wild chalklings") exist that can kill people.
* GaslampFantasy: With [[ClockPunk clockwork]] gas lamps.
* GeometricMagic: Rithmatics works this way, particularly the defensive side. Lines of Warding are based on circles and polygons, and any geometric imperfections in your drawing weakens the strength of the resulting magical effect.
** Chalklings, on the other hand, seem to work more on the artistic quality of the design. Joel finds this baffling.
* GoodIsNotNice: [[ZigZaggingTrope Zigzagged]] with Professor Nalizar. If there was such a trope as [[{{Literature/HarryPotter}} The Snape]], Nalizar would be a perfect example. Arrogant, [[SadistTeacher cruel]], very powerful at his magic, [[ObviouslyEvil 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, [[spoiler: 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 [[NiceJobBreakingItHero 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!]]
* IJustWantToBeNormal: 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.
* IJustWantToBeSpecial: Joel is incredibly good at drawing Rithmatic defenses and working out dueling strategies... but he doesn't actually have the power to bring chalk figures to life.
* ImStandingRightHere: When Melody asks to switch jobs with Joel; she'll do the clerical work if he draws lines for her. In other words, cheat.
-->'''Joel:''' Professor Fitch is sitting ''right there.'' He can probably hear everything you're saying.\\
'''Fitch:''' Sure can.
* InSpiteOfANail: Used due to this world running on RuleOfCool (see below); despite the very different world, many place names are still the same, at one point the book even hanging a lampshade on the fact that Native American names are used for several of the Isles despite the fact that the Native Americans were driven out by the chalklings before first European contact.
* IntangibleTheft: The Scribbler initially creates a drawing that steals their voices so that they cannot be heard screaming or fighting (or anything) while he's kidnapping them and the crime won't be discovered.
* IntriguedByHumanity: [[spoiler:The real Professor Nalizar has been DeadAllAlong with ''something'' using his body to observe humanity for...reasons. And probably not benign ones.]]
* IThoughtThatWas: [[{{Magic}} Rithmatics]] can be confused with 'rithmetics, the common colloquialisation of Arithmetic (simply, one field of Mathematics), or Rhythmatics, 'rhythmic gymnastics'; or just exercises to different rhythms based on level in general.
* LoopholeAbuse: There's no rule that says you must be a Rithmatist to participate in the Melee, only that you must be the student of a Rithmatic professor. [[spoiler:Or, apparently, under the supervision of one for your summer elective as Joel is Fitch's ''research assistant''. Exton says this counts, though.]]
* TheMaster: Perhaps in name only, but there are more installments to come.
* MissedTheCall: [[spoiler: Joel ''could'' have been a Rithmatist, but something happened to keep the process from happening properly...''both'' times.]]
* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: King Gregory III may be a stand-in for George III.
* OfferVoidInNebraska: Macmillan online [[http://us.macmillan.com/static/tor/epic/sweeps/index.html ran a contest]] to win an advanced copy of the book, Rithmatist's chalk (Trent's formula?), and a sling rucksack. Despite being a British company, though, the contest only ran in the US.
* OurMonstersAreWeird: Two-dimensional chalk outlines that can ''eat people''.
* PaperPeople: The chalklings are all two-dimensional and can only travel over adjacent surfaces, i.e. from floor to wall to ceiling (hence the image caption). When Joel is in [[spoiler:the Chamber of Inception]], he sees one standing and notes that if you turn to look from the side, it practically disappears.
* ReligionIsMagic: Only those who have been inducted into the Monarchichal Church have a chance to become Rithmatists.
* RuleOfCool: [[WordOfGod In an interview]], Sanderson explained that "[he] replaced the United States with the United Isles, turning the country into an archipelago. [He] shrank the planet, and [he] did really weird things to the history of the world because [he] thought it would be fun. For example, [he] let Korea conquer the world, because [he's] a fan of Korean history." Adding, 'Its not like Im sitting down and saying, What is plausible? Im sitting down and saying, What is awesome? [[AwesomenessIsAForce Then I write a story in which that awesomeness can shine]].'
* SpellMyNameWithAThe: The Rithmatist, The Scribbler.
* UnskilledButStrong[=/=]WeakButSkilled: Several non-traditional examples that mix the two.
** Joel has one of the best minds for geometry and mathematics, and can correctly identify even minute flaws in a shape ''by eye''...but he's not a Rithmatist, so none of that matters. [[spoiler:Until the end, when he draws out the lines, and Melody traces over them]].
** Fitch is one of the best Rithmatists in the world, but he gets so shaky during fights that he can barely draw a straight line. [[spoiler:[[PapaWolf Unless his students are in danger]]]].
** Nalizar has an extremely aggressive and offensive style, which makes him a beast in duels but wouldn't be very useful against swarms of wild chalklings. [[spoiler:Which is the point. He's a Forgotten Shadow infiltrating human society, trying to train the next generation of Rithmatists with a style that ''looks'' good, but is useless in Nebrask. This should have been noticed before, really: if he was a such a hero in Nebrask how come he's an offensive duelist, and not a defensive one?]]
** Melody can draw breathtakingly beautiful chalklings, which means they are extremely powerful, but she can barely produce a recognizable circle, which is the basis of all defense. [[spoiler:Joel helps her solve this problem by drawing the defensive lines himself, and then having her write over them]].
* WhamEpisode: [[SignatureStyle As usual for a Sanderson book,]] the last few chapters are one Wham after another.
* WindUpKey: It's what nearly all every-day item in this world needs.