So, I read this a couple months ago, but somehow forgot to review it (I thought I did, but I can’t find it anywhere). I remember it fairly well, but some of my more detailed impressions have probably disappeared.
Somewhat surprisingly, from Brandon Sanderson, this is a young adult alternate history book. When colonists first arrived in the Americas, they found a vast archipelago uninhabited by humanity. Instead, they found dangerous “wild chalklings” everywhere. King Gregory III (again, alternate history) discovered the magic used in this world: Rithmancy. He found that drawing specific shapes with chalk could create chalklings, and defend against them. This magic allowed the colonists to take over the islands, leaving the last refuge of the wild chalklings the island of Nebrask (the islands are mostly named after actual, real-world states).
Joel Saxson is a student at Armedius Academy, and though he isn’t a Rithmatist himself, he is utterly obsessed with the magic, and, more than anything, wants to learn under a Rithmatic teacher. When a series of disappearances on campus occur, he ends up getting his wish as he gets to assist Professor Fitch during the summer holidays. What we end up getting is the closest thing I’ve read to a Harry Potter-type book since, well, the end of the series. There are significant changes, but a kid studying at a renown school of magic trying to solve mysteries can’t help but be compared to that series.
And it’s an admiral job. This was a legitimately enjoyable series, with likable characters and an interesting world. It’s Brandon Sanderson. If you’re familiar with his work – you know what you’re getting.
Now, the down side. It was published in 2013. He he has written 21 books since the end of 2012. Sanderson is insanely prolific – but we’ve seen no progress on a sequel to this book. But, the good news is that he isn’t George RR Martin. Sanderson gives a yearly update on all his projects, and where he projects to be in the coming year. He also, on the homepage of his website, gives on-going updates on everything he’s working on (currently 40% of the way through the third draft of his Stormlight 4 novel). The reason he hasn’t written the second book is a good one: it’s going to heavily involve the Aztec Empire, and Sanderson needs time to fully research the people he’s going to be writing about.
I can’t fault him for that – no matter how much I’d like to be able to read the book. How Sanderson has handled this delay has been impeccable. As a fan, you can’t ask for more from him.