Mount Readmore Book Review, 2018 23/200
Sufficiently Advanced Magic By Andrew Rowe
Finished on 1/9/2018
Description: Five years ago, Corin Cadence’s brother entered the Serpent Spire — a colossal tower with ever-shifting rooms, traps, and monsters. Those who survive the spire’s trials return home with an attunement: a mark granting the bearer magical powers. According to legend, those few who reach the top of the tower will be granted a boon by the spire’s goddess.
He never returned.
Now, it’s Corin’s turn. He’s headed to the top floor, on a mission to meet the goddess.
If he can survive the trials, Corin will earn an attunement, but that won’t be sufficient to survive the dangers on the upper levels. For that, he’s going to need training, allies, and a lot of ingenuity.
The journey won’t be easy, but Corin won’t stop until he gets his brother back.
Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, LitRPG, YA(ish)
Hogwarts meets a DnD dungeon crawl!
I’ve heard this book described as being a LitRPG, a.k.a. a literary role-playing game. It’s pretty accurate. Andrew Rowe has taken the modern trend of understandable magic to its natural extreme and has created a ‘game-ified’ magic system. This book is almost more about how the magic system works then actual plot and characters. And you know what? I enjoyed it the entire time.
In ‘Sufficiently Advanced Magic’ Corin must venture into divinely created towers in order to gain magic. The catch is that every room in the tower is out to kill you. That is where the story starts. Our hero (obviously) succeeds and gets magic, and it ruins his life because it’s the most useless type of magic out there, Enchanting. As an enchanter he can create magical objects, such as magic wands which produce fireballs or rings of healing. Corin was raised to be a warrior, so this non-combat magic is an embarrassment for his family. Emotionally cast out by his father, he sent to boarding school after his illegitimate sister is elevated to becoming the family heir.
That’s where the fun starts. At University, Corin is taught by irascible teachers who aren’t afraid of using casual violence against their students-think Hogwarts but hardcore. Corin, being naturally analytical, decides to re-earn his father’s respect by excelling at enchanting and creating magical weapons.
Corin cultivates a circle of friends at school, including his sister Sara, and together the story begins in earnest.
Plot: It was good. I liked it quite a bit. I did not anticipate the ending, but it’s not because of a lack of foreshadowing. More to the point, it was very fun. I wouldn’t call this the deepest work of literature I’ve ever read, but I tore through a 22hour audiobook in a matter of three days.
Pacing: the pacing was touch and go. While I was dragged through this relatively long story in a short period of time, I think the pacing was off early on. The school sections, while enjoyable to my intellectual curiosity, seemed to slow things down a little with large sections of magical infodumping. However, I found the ‘magical education’ aspect of this book to be its strong suit, so that slowness made it more enjoyable. At other points in this story, it was fast, almost ‘thriller’ fast.
Characterization: this is where I have to compliment the audio book narrator. Not only did the characters as a written have distinct personalities, but the narrator given distinct accents which made it very easy for me to distinguish who was who. Based upon speech patterns and caste-relationships between the characters, I was very easily able to tell who is who and what made them individual. I would have liked more bonding between the heroes, however. On one hand I was grateful that there wasn’t a shoehorned in romance, but I think they could’ve been a little bit more friendship and bonding.
Highly recommended! This book is already one of my favorite reads for the year. My complements to Mr. Rowe for having the skill to successfully self-publish this fantastic novel.