Tag Archives: Alt-History

Top Ten Tuesday – August 16, 2016: Ten Alternate-History Books


August 16, 2016

It’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the wonderful blog at The Broke and the Bookish! This week’s topic was ten books with X setting so I chose: Ten Alt-History Books

alt history books

Alternate History is pretty neat. I love seeing what authors do with actual historical facts, figures, or time periods and adapting them to fit their books, often times including them in a fantasy or sci-fi type setting (hence, the adaptations). I just reviewed THE RITHMATIST by Brandon Sanderson and so this concept easily popped to mind as the topic as this week’s Top Ten Tuesday list!


  • THE RITHMATIST  by Brandon Sanderson | When magic is discovered, history is changed forever, including the entire landscape of North America which is now a collection of many islands.
  • THE CROWN’S GAME by Evelyn Skye | Magic involved in a modified version of Imperial Russia.
  • SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY by Susan Dennard | Zombies take over 1876 Philadelphia!
  • BORN WICKED by Jessica Spotswood | Alternate history Salem Witch Trials
  • MY LADY JANE by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows | Completely fun and frivolous re-write of Lady Jane Grey’s story (but oh, so much fun)
  • GRAVE MERCY by Robin LaFevers | Assassin nuns with a connection to Death play an important role in 15th century France
  • AND I DARKEN by Kiersten White | Gender-swapped Vlad the Impaler (this actually was not a favorite of mine but lots of other people loved it!)


  • A CRIMINAL MAGIC by Lee Kelly | I want to get to this one so badly! Magic meets prohibition
  • THE INVENTOR’S SECRET by Andrea Cremer | Alternate 19th Century America if the Revolutionary War hadn’t happened
  • TIMEKEEPER by Tara Sim | Alternate Victorian era with time magic

Have you read any awesome alternate-history books? Which ones would you recommend??

The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1) – Brandon Sanderson

The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1) – Brandon SandersonTitle: The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: May 14, 2013 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 8, 2016
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2), Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5), Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.
As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students learn the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing—kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery—one that will change Rithmatics—and their world—forever.


I’ve slowly but surely been making my way through Brandon Sanderson’s entire published works and next up on my list was THE RITHMATIST! For some reason for the longest time, I thought this book was Middle Grade but it’s actually Young Adult, though I see some great potential crossover for those two age ranges, along with the ever-present crossover to Adult since Sanderson’s books are always so clever and well-put together. THE RITHMATIST reads a little younger than Sanderson’s Reckoners trilogy (which is also YA) and actually really reminded me of Harry Potter! It was just something about the characters, the structure of the book, and possibly the presence at school that reminded me of Harry Potter and all of the mischief he manages to get into, not to mention the distrust of a teacher and some other secret happenings that really reminded me of Hogwarts in the best way. It is definitely the youngest-feeling book I’ve read from Sanderson (since I haven’t read the Alcatraz series yet) and that is quite notable but I wasn’t put off by it at all since that’s really what I was expecting!

loved the characters in this book. Joel is the main character in THE RITHMATIST and I love his thirst for knowledge, especially when it comes to the Rithmatists. Not being a Rithmatist himself, he has to try to find information in secret since non-Rithmatists are not allowed to learn all of the theory, strategy, and history, but that is Joel’s true passion. As usual, Sanderson creates an excellent core group of characters who are all a little bit misfits. Joel, the wannabe Rithmatist;  Melody, the Rithmatist who couldn’t care less; and Professor Fitch, the pleasant yet out-dated professor make up the main part of this group and it’s so special to watch all of these personalities and strengths balance each other. They work so well together because their relationships are so mutually beneficial… and of course there’s some great banter in their with some clashing personalities that kept me delighted and maintained a lighter tone!

It’s always so interesting to see what kind of magic system Brandon Sanderson chooses for his books. In this case, it’s the power to bring chalk to life as an offensive and defensive course of action. Rithmatists have the power to draw chalk lines or figures and give them basic direction and of course, the way chalk lines are drawn and connected have a very systematic way of behaving. I’m always so impressed with how much thought and effort goes into creating a magic system and I really enjoyed how unique this one was! I’m not sure I loved the concept — I suppose bringing inanimate objects to life is hit or miss for me — so I wasn’t totally crazy about it, but the structure and rules really brought the ideas together and made it a somewhat realistic (albeit, fantastical) concept to follow and understand.

The geography and history were also incredibly interesting, as always! Sanderson chose to mix fantasy and history, creating a time period that felt a little steampunk but had an alternate history incorporating the origin of Rithmatists and how they shaped the world. The course of events changes history completely and even changes geography, breaking up what we know as North America into the United Isles, consisting of a broken apart continent of many islands with various Rithmatist schools throughout the country. There are also some real historical figures who make appearances and in the alt-history concept, affect the world in similar or entirely different ways. It’s quite fascinating and I really enjoyed what Sanderson did with the book! I always find it fun to see “what if”s and see an alternate geography based on a different history.

THE RITHMATIST was just plain fun and I loved its lighter tone. I really enjoy the deep Sanderson novels but this one felt like it was quite a bit lighter and did have a sort of Harry Potter feel — which is to say that it reads potentially younger but is still enjoyable for an audience of all ages. The ending left me just waiting for more and there is confirmation of another book but we might still be waiting a few years for it according to the most recent Sanderson news! Such is the life of a Sanderson fan. (And this is what I get for bingeing all of his works.)


Source: Purchased from Audible
Narrator: Michael Kramer
Performance: Excellent overall! One of my favorite narrators

I listened to the book on audio which was fantastic since Michael Kramer, who narrates the entire Mistborn series, also narrates THE RITHMATIST. It’s the first YA book I’ve heard him narrate (actually, the first book besides the Mistborn books) and I think he handled the younger voices really well! Sometimes the younger male and younger female voices weren’t as distinct as his adult voices but he’s just such an enjoyable narrator! I was lacking a few things with the audio, simply because there are diagrams within the book showing different chalk defenses and moves that obviously I couldn’t see since I was listening. They’re all described but obviously you  miss a little bit in that sort of experience! 

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!



Joel // Character obsessions: Learning, Rithmatic theory, family.
I keep wanting to call it “rithmancy” because of “arithmancy” in Harry Potter… But I don’t think that’s right. Rithmatic theory? I think?
Anyway! Joel was such a fun character. I love characters that are so knowledge-thirsty because they’re the ones always off to the library or hunting for clues to give readers all of the amazing answers and discoveries that I love so much! He was smart, clever, and maybe a little naive but that added to the gentleness of his character and he was so incredibly likable.
Melody // Character obsessions: Unicorns, frivolity, ice cream, the easy life.
Melody is so sassy! She’s an unlikely companion for Joel but they totally work together because they have very different strengths. They really help each other even though they butt heads a lot but I love their banter.
Nalazar // Character obsessions: Dominance, power, scowling.
Nalazar = Snape in the best possible ways and that’s all I’m going to say about that!


Kept Me Hooked On: Alt-History. Alt-history is SO much fun. I love changing timelines and imagining “what if”, especially when it comes to new geography. This wasn’t my favorite imagination of the “former” North America but it’s always fun no matter what!
Left Me Wanting More: Realistic magic? That’s an oxymoron, I know, but I wasn’t toootally hooked on the chalk concept. I got along with it all right and structured rules always help but bringing chalk wasn’t my favorite magic system.

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

I’m a true fan of pretty much everything that Sanderson writes and there isn’t really a book of his I wouldn’t recommend. THE RITHMATIST was fun, easy to read, and quite clever.



(Click the cover to see my review!)