Tor.com today revealed the cover art, and a synopsis, of one of the most curious novels slated for 2013, Brandon Sanderson’s The Rithmatist. The synopsis, written by Tor Teen’s Susan Chang:
The Rithmatist is an epic fantasy set in an alternate version of our world—a world in which life in the American Isles is threatened by the attacks of mysterious creatures known as Wild Chalklings. Chalklings are two-dimensional drawings that can be infused with life by Rithmatists and it is the job of the Rithmatists to keep the Wild Chalkings at bay.
You may wonder how a two-dimensional drawing could possibly be a threat. Here’s the answer: Wild Chalklings scurry across the ground like scorpions or land piranhas, and bite chunks out of your feet. At which point you fall to the ground and they swarm you. Enough said.
The Rithmatist is about a 14-year-old kid named Joel who wants desperately to be a Rithmatist. But he wasn’t Chosen, so he doesn’t have the ability to bring chalklings or Rithmatic lines to life. All he can do is watch as The Rithmatist students at Armedius Academy learn the mystical art that he would give anything to practice. Then Rithmatist students start disappearing, kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving only trails of blood. Joel’s professor asks him to help investigate—putting Joel and his friend Melody on the trail of a discovery that could change Rithmatics—and their world—forever….
The cover itself is sorta bog-standard YA, thought the steampunk horse is kind of cool. The synopsis, however, sounds like pure Sanderson (which, in the opinion of this blogger, is a very good thing), and I’m as curious to see Sanderson play with alternate history as I’m excited to see him explore and develop yet another new magic system. I also feel like Sanderson’s prose and story structure fit well with a YA audience. Looking good, all around.
Update: The previous cover posted was an early mockup. Thanks to Peter Ahlstrom, Sanderson’s assistant, I’ve posted the final cover.