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Sufficiently Advanced Magic

(Arcane Ascension #1)

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  18,695 ratings  ·  1,447 reviews
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.

Kindle Edition, 621 pages
Published February 26th 2017
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Jonathan Somewhat...yes. It was actually cute. Hints...suggestion of...not quite actual...but cute. Labeling it gay or straight does it injustice. It was just …moreSomewhat...yes. It was actually cute. Hints...suggestion of...not quite actual...but cute. Labeling it gay or straight does it injustice. It was just cute.(less)
Doug Wyltk They're in the same genre. You could say it's also very similar to the Tower of Druaga anime (if you liked this book, check it out) but again only bec…moreThey're in the same genre. You could say it's also very similar to the Tower of Druaga anime (if you liked this book, check it out) but again only because they're in the same genre. It's a niche genre so it stands out more, but look at the Dresden Files and the Iron Druid Chronicles, for a more well-known example. The parallels between those two series are numerous, but it's an artifact of sharing a genre, not a deliberate attempt to crib from another work.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.15  · 
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 ·  18,695 ratings  ·  1,447 reviews

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Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Magic school trope and LitRPG fans
4.5/5 stars

Simply enthralling and fun from cover to cover.

This kind of book is why I’m thankful for the SPFBO competition because without it I might have never heard about this book at all. Like Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft or The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French, Sufficiently Advanced Magic (SAM) by Andrew Rowe is truly a gem in the self-published fantasy world that is on par or even better than many traditionally published fantasy books. In fact, I think of SAM as the best book to ever ap
James Tivendale
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: freecopy, fantasy, spfbo3
I read Sufficiently Advanced Magic for the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off. It was promoted to the finalist stage by Bookworm Blues and is the first novel in the Arcane Ascension series. It sits nicely within the LitRPG subgenre of Fantasy and it gripped me from the very start.

In similar fashion to books such as The Magician's Guild, The Name of the Wind, and A Wizard of Earthsea - a large percentage of the narrative takes places within a mysterious educational establishment where professors te
Jack Fox
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
DNF at 68%. Why? Well, it's complicated.

First off, I want to say that Andrew Rowe is a writer with a lot of potential. I've read many authors with 'better' books who I didn't think had the same degree of promise in their writing, so even though this particular novel wasn't for me, I look forward to seeing what Rowe writes in the future.

Let's start with the good.
1) Sufficiently Advanced Magic has some very interesting worldbuilding. The idea of magical Towers that grant powers and artifacts to th
Kitty G Books
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-sff-faves, spfbo
I'm going to go so far as to say, I loved this. It was brilliant, and in fact, I am now really torn on how good all these finalists for #SPFBO are going to be. So far, this one is only very slightly behind the one I put forward as my finalist...and I have another 7 still to read!

So, as I mentioned above, I read this as it's a finalist for the #SPFBO competition. I am really, really glad that this one became a finalist, as I absolutely wouldn't have discovered this otherwise, and it's so very wor
Surprise surprise, I will be controversial again. This book is bad. I'm about 2/3 in and it's just not worth this time I wasted on it already.

Here we have our people who get magical powers from a goddess if they complete puzzles in a tower. Corin's brother went in, never came out, so... yeah. Corin wants to go in and find him. He goes in, gets entry level power, goes to magic uni to level up to go back in to find him.

This thing is fucking LONG, man. Not even justified long, because it can be
Apr 30, 2017 rated it liked it
A better name for this book is Sufficiently Analyzed Magic because of all the hair splitting, analysis, and corollaries with caveats, ifs, iffs, and therefores. The magic system is simply described waaay too much and there are whole pages of information dumping while the main character scratches his chin regarding how to do this or that, making the book feel like a very long introduction to the next one. Fine, I get it, he's learning, but there's this feeling of having to supervise the slowest s ...more
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
read this book a while ago, but right now the review is in massive wall of text form, and not in the format I’ve been doing the other reviews, so I’m redoing it.

I loved this book, it was the first time I dipped my toes into the LitRPG genre, and its a mix of LitRPG and epic fantasy. It’s a great place to start for people who enjoy traditional fantasy and want to try out LitRPG.

This is also a semi finalist and I totally agree with the nomination because it’s awesome.

Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-shelf, fantasy
I've been going on a spree of LitRPG books lately and I have to admit I'm having a grand fun time with them all. Maybe it comes from my gamer background or perhaps I just love the whole gamut of rules associated with complicated and arcane magic systems, but I'm also pretty sure this transcends all that kind of musing.

What I've found is a wonderful tale set mostly within a magic school closely associated with climbing these massively complicated dungeon towers spread throughout the land. Prepar
Nimrod Daniel
Done! That was a quite enjoyable mix between LitRPG and EPIC/YA fantasy.
The last 10% has interesting revelations. I look forward book 2.


Apr 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This was a strange mix between a regular YA coming of age fantasy story set in a magic school and a litRPG fantasy. I think Rowe blended both aspects well and made the story work. The magic system was a little weird and overly complex as all the levels and types of magic were a nightmare to keep track of in audio but I think it just about worked as the story was never dull despite being over 20 hours long!

The world was an interesting one. Six magical towers, ruled by the Goddess, are sprinkled
Scott  Hitchcock
Sep 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people who love defined magic systems
Recommended to Scott by: Yanique Gillana
Shelves: epic-fantasy

If you love magic systems, I mean really love magic systems this is the book/series for you. Everything revolves around it. I don't think even Sanderson or Erikson put so much pedantic detail into every square inch of the magic system.

I think this will turn a lot of people off. I liked it in spite of thinking a few times ok you've hit me with the mallet I get more than a few times. There's also a few times where the level of the YA characters doesn't meet their deeds but if you're used to
Mark Lawrence
I've not read this book yet but it is a finalist in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO) and currently sitting in 2nd place (from an initial field of 300) on the scoreboard:


Sounds like something worth giving a try!
Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller
[3.5/5 stars] This book was completely packed with magic school awesomeness from cover to cover. All of the elements I’m always clamor for more for in other works. But as I approached the last 25% of the book, I (and Carrie) couldn’t help but wonder:

Can you have too much of a good thing?

Probably. Especially if it comes at the sacrifice of sufficiently paced plot advancement. It was amazing to read about the complex magic system, all of the different types of mages, the magical creatures, and the
Jan 26, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: freebies
The Cadence family live in a land where people gain power from their goddess. They go on trials to gain the mark of power called an attunement. Tristan Cadence went for his trial five years ago and never returned. Now his younger brother Corin is heading for his trials with the goal of not only gaining an attunement, but also finding his brother.

Sufficiently Advanced Magic has more over explaining than any book I've come across in some time. Every thing that happens Corin explains during or afte
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Self-publishing is an interesting thing that has happened to the literary world.

Yep. I'm about 10 years late on that observation.

To be fair, I do read and have read plenty of self-published books before, but this one in particular left me musing about whether it would exit in a solely traditional-publishing world.

The musing about self-publishing comes about because by nearly any traditional measure this book shouldn't work. The first hundred pages or so are Corin Cadence's experience in the mag
David Firmage
Nov 01, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Just horrible and irritating. This must be the technical manual to run alongside the series. Too much pointless dialogue during the fights so they become uninteresting.
Sep 11, 2018 rated it did not like it
We follow a clumsy, asexual, a little gayish, autistic, antisocial protagonist who lives in the shadow of his half sister Sera who is better at almost everything than him, she is smarter, a better fighter, has a much better attunement, is social and capable of romance and is actually an interesting character.

Also don’t forget to use an fiction based pronoun “they” to describe mentally damaged people who like to choose their gender on how they feel that day - because it isn’t like biology and sci
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Oh, such tremendous fun!!! A tiny bit heavy on descriptions of a thinking protagonist (“he scratched his chin as he pondered ...”), but completely forgivable in the larger book-as-a-whole picture.

Wow. Quite an adventure too. I was a little worried that the plot might get stilted due to the limitations on setting. But these fears were unjustified, as the setting changed much more that I had expected! Fun surprises sprinkled throughout as well.

I am looking forward to the next book. And I recomme
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.0 Stars
This was a very enjoyable fantasy series filled with puzzles, friendship and adventures. I fell in love with the narrative from the very chapter and flew through the story incredibly fast..

I found the main character, Corin, to be very likeable and relatable. Told in first person perspective, I got to qn intimate understanding of his thought-processes and insecurities. I loved that he was intelligent and logical, typically relying on his wits rather than his fighting skills to overcome o
Nov 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, audiobooks
What a self published gem.
I need a sequel.

Afternotes: The Audiobook with Nick Phodel is just . . . Excellent performance. He is the best narrator I know.
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"It was the day of my Judgement and I was prepared in a thousand ways that didn't matter"

* * * *
4 / 5

When I was a great deal younger I spent a reasonable amount of time devouring books and manga of the LitRPG genre - the most famous of which might be Sword Art Online, The Tower of God, and 1/2 Prince. Essentially, these are books based either literally around people in a game or a world that functions like an RPG; typically these feature dungeons, levelling up, magic, trading, forging weapons,
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Wow. So, what I write here may be partially colored by my newness to the LitRPG genre (I had previously only read Ready Player One, which I didn’t much care for) but this was a lovely nostalgia filled time for me. Back in the day (I am old-ish), when I was in my late teens, I played an MMO called Everquest, on the RP server (stay with me, I swear it’s relevant). And something we used to do there was write stories about our characters. Lots and lots of stories, in which we found fun little ways t ...more
May 26, 2020 rated it it was ok
Hmph. Sufficiently Advanced Magic does not have a sufficiently advanced plot. This book is to fantasy novels what endless hours of farming and leveling are to an MMORPG. Guess why I quit the latter.

The world building is meticulous. Tons of numbers, categories, stats, specs. The author is a game designer and it shows. If you enjoy not only playing RPG video games, but also enjoy spending a lot of time debating with yourself whether you should chose the Intelligence +2 cloak with the Speed +3 knif
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
“It was the day of my Judgment, and I was prepared in a thousand ways that didn’t matter.”

This was my first LitRPG and I must admit that I really enjoyed it. Perhaps the audio version enhanced this genre, but either way I couldn’t help but follow each step Corin made, both physical and mental, through increasingly dangerous situations, solving life-threatening puzzles and trying to adapt to being a student. Had his voice not being as likeable, this book wouldn’t have worked. As it stands, Rowe g
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Actual rating: 3.75

I was never a gamer. In my youth, I preferred to climb trees and read books. Nowadays I still prefer to move (occasionally I still climb trees) and read books. When I heard that Sufficiently Advanced Magic was strongly influenced by video games I was hesitant to try it. I wasn’t sure if it would click between us. After it was chosen as Bookworm Blues Finalist in SPFBO 2017 contest, I had no choice but to finally read it.

I don’t regret it.

The book is told from first-person pers
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
Full review is here on my blog!

This one grabbed my attention right from the beginning. The story plops us right at the door to the tower, right as Corin Cadence, minor noble, magic user, and 10/10 little brother is about to enter it to be judged and more or less ‘sorted’ into his specific magical attunement. It’s going to be a tough test. There be monsters inside this tower and he’s armed only with a backpack full of food and supplies. At least he was smart enough to bring some rope. Rope’s alwa
Karsten Kutterer
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was so hard to put down (even for dinner), just ask my wife. One of my favorite elements of any book is the ability to make me ask questions about characters and events. The author mastered that ability, and at the end of every chapter I had to start the next to find answers.

I love the magic system created. It is very unique along with the book's theology. The degree of detail and possibility was astounding and very intriguing. I found myself wondering if certain actions would be possi
Julia Sarene
This one started of reminding me a bit of Senlin Ascends. It quickly turned into what felt like Indiana Jones - being inside a tower that is riddled with traps and puzzles. After some fast action in there in changed into a sort of YA version of Rothfuss and then it gained a slight touch of Lit RPG.

For me it worked really well! It was fun, and I enjoyed the main character and his sometimes cheap jokes and banter. The group of characters was a bit tropey, but I still enjoyed them all - and especia
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Worth reading

This book is great. I only had one problem with it, but not one to lose a star for. Main character spends so much time scratching his chin that you'd think it would be raw and bloody by the time the book ends.
I highly recommend this book though.
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
UPDATE 5/20/2018: On sale right now for $1.49 on Kindle!

Read more reviews or listen to the podcast review at Book Geeks Uncompromised!

In Sufficiently Advanced Magic, those looking to acquire magical abilities, called attunements, must go through the trials of the Spires, towers reminiscent of video game dungeons with puzzles, monsters, and traps that the person must go through to be gifted with their magical abilities.

Five years ago, Corin's brother entered the tower but never came out and is pr
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“Headaches from using my attunement? I could deal with them. Existential terror at the possibility of destroying my own mind? Pretty much routine at this point.
Doing paperwork for the government?
Now that was brutal.”
“It was the day of my Judgment, and I was prepared in a thousand ways that didn’t matter.” 13 likes
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