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  • Sufficiently Advanced Magic

  • Arcane Ascension, Book 1
  • Written by: Andrew Rowe
  • Narrated by: Nick Podehl
  • Length: 21 hrs and 58 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (1,333 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2017 Andrew Rowe (P)2017 Podium Publishing

What listeners say about Sufficiently Advanced Magic

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Fun

The whole book is structured like a dungeon crawler video game. Right down to the progression stats, loot system, items, and monsters. If you want to read a book that mirrors an RPG or rogue-lite format look no further.

16 people found this helpful

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Overall a Great Listen

I enjoyed the story, really have nothing negative to say. It is in my opinion geared more towards a younger audience, in saying this, regardless I still found it entertaining. The bottom line is entertainment. Would I listen to a sequel- absolutely!! Nick Podel is an awesome narrator, I have listened to several books read by Podel and he does a great effort in taking on the characters in each story. Basically, any story that he takes on to narrate is a safe listen!!

8 people found this helpful

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Was getting sick if Lit-RPGs.... then this book...

I originally had a really tough tough time getting into this audio book. I was getting rather tired of the almost formulaic feeling of many lit RPG titles and was wondering if I had lost interest in the entire genre.

I came back to this book as I was waiting for some more credits to appear in my account Soni gave it another try to fill in the boring drive time.
I do have to say I am glad I did.

The story is decent, but what I really love is the characters. They were not just super heros in newbs clothing with some kind of mega mind that makes them have a hidden edge. They are flawed, interesting an relatable. I almost feel that the main character has a touch of Asperger's with how bad he is with understand social interactions while being well intentioned in almost every situation.

Add in a bit of Pan-sexuality for the main character without it being some sort of harem style sub-plot or even overtly sexual in tone in anyway (more so in a cute kind of way then sexy), and this book really breaks from the normal humdrum that is the average lit-RPG novel.

3 people found this helpful

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I love this book.

Just finished my second time through this book. I can't wait for the sequel. Donkey.

3 people found this helpful

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Finished in 2 days as Harry Potter meets MMORPG

An amazing story filled with friendship, wit, and an interesting explanation of Magic. If you like fantasy and complex storylines, this book is for you! Nick Podehl's performance is very enjoyable while transports you to a magical world, his use of voices flawlessly distinguishes characters while keeping you entertained.

Overall a great story can't wait to read the next one!

2 people found this helpful

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possibly my all time favourite

Fun story, great characters, original ideas and lots of mystery to keep you guessing. First book I loved enough to write a review for though I've listened to many great books.

2 people found this helpful

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listened 3 times time a row.

enticing world, loveable characters and a story that moves. The main character thinks like a real person.

2 people found this helpful

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I enjoyed this

This was a pretty good book. Gave me Name of the wind vibes.
I am looking forward to the next book.

1 person found this helpful

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extremely well put together and we'll written.

though this is my second time listening to this book, the story is still gripping, the twists and turns still instill excitement.
I look forward to continuing my climb in the tower.

1 person found this helpful

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A little slow

It took me a long time to like this book but by the end I'm fully onboard, I want the next one right now.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Zero
  • 2017-07-11

Couldn't make it through the whole book

Any additional comments?

I got to chapter 9 and just had to quit. (minor spoilers follow)

Let me explain the problem: The main character is the son of a noble house known specifically for their ability to fight and win in magical duels, and his parents are particularly famous for this. It should be noted that he was removed from public schooling specifically so that his father could teach him (for years) to fight in such magical duels. His family lives in a magically warded house that has a library full of books on magic, and virtually every aspect of his world is run by people who have magic abilities gained from 'atunements'. He comes off as studious, intelligent, introspective, cautious, prepared, and completely focused on one goal, going into a magical tower and participating in a coming of age type challenge, where he will fight magical creatures and overcome magical traps, to gain an atunement (granting magical abilities) and to find his brother, who disappeared 5 years ago in his own tower test. Notice how many times I used the word 'magic'?

Now, the story starts with the hero going into the tower, and moving from room to room on his quest fighting monsters and such. At this point it's pretty good, and I would probably give the story a 4 star rating. However after the first few chapters he makes his way out of the tower and gets sent to a Hogwarts style academy for new people to learn how to use their new magical powers. It is at this point made painfully clear (for the reader) that the main character knows NOTHING about how magic works. zip. zilch. nada. No understanding WHATSOEVER other than that it exists.

Now, this would make sense if our hero was a peasant from some distant village who had never had any schooling or reason to learn about magic, but, considering the character's backstory, it makes no sense at all. This would be like talking to an intelligent 18 year old whose parents are doctors, and whose whole life mission has been to also become a doctor, and when you point out that he's going to have to take an admission test says to medical school says, "words? letters? sentences? numbers? what are those? I've heard of them before, but I've never seen them. What's a scalpel? You mean the human body has organs in it?" I wouldn't expect the main character to know complex magic any more than I would expect our hypothetical 18 year old to know about dissecting a kidney, but he doesn't seem know ANYTHING about it.

The reason for this is that the author has created a very complex and detailed magic system and needs some way to explain it to the readers, but good God if he didn't pick the absolute worst way to go about it. I really wanted to like this story, but I can't get over this MASSIVE plot hole.

Oh, and the other thing is that the kid never gives any reason for why he might believe his older brother is still alive after FIVE years in the tower when it's made very clear that anyone who doesn't come out after a very short period (given the lack of food and water I'd say it lasts no more than a day) has died from some monster or trap .

719 people found this helpful

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  • Jason N.
  • 2017-07-20

Very good book

Books I like.

Name of the wind series
Anything from Brandon Sanderson
The warded man series
The light bringer series.

I say this to you in hopes that if you liked those books you will probably like this one as well. I won't tell you about the book as it does matter what I say. Nick is a very good reader makes the book easy to listen to. Looking forward to the next book.

295 people found this helpful

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  • P
  • 2020-01-13

Levels doesn't matter

So the levels of the power doesn't really matter as you can see even a first year student can hold off experienced higher level opponents with some prepping. Let's just make up stuff while we go, shall we? And the LGBT bit was dropped in like a bomb without preamble. It is got a good world setup but all gone to waste.

211 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2017-07-25

Sand bagging the audience

There are minor issues in the book, as in how at times it gets a bit tedious. The big problem though is that you have a main character who doesn't really seem interested romantically in anyone but also seems oblivious to characters like Marissa that are obviously interested in him, and then BAM he's gay. Literally out of nowhere. No hints of this anywhere, no mention of the sexual norms except that different guys are hitting on his sister which is what you typically expect. This really feels forced by the author, as in I think he wants to make a point. The problem is that it doesn't make any sense with the story based on what he had written, it just doesn't seem believable. Up until that point the main character just seems like a shy nerd, which is completely understandable and then this is just dropped on the audience like we should just understand. I'm sorry, the character had been developed one way for the entire book and then all of a sudden everything is changed. I didn't like it and I felt like it threw off the entire book.

132 people found this helpful

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  • Benjamin
  • 2017-07-21

A cliche w/in a worn out trope w/in a derivative.

This book is basically every magic school, coming of age book ever. Magic college? check. introspective hero? painfully check. Parents out of the picture, but somehow looming? check. Female character that outperforms hero? check. Intrigue that's "bigger than a student can handle?" check.

If you liked any of:
Harry Potter Series
The Magicians
The Kingkiller Chronicle

Rowe beats a particular trope to death though. He puts the hero in danger. Hero does something to protect himself. Kind of succeeds, but then gets chewed out by teachers for having done something even more dangerous. It happens roughly once every two chapters. The "teachers" at his school barely teach. The entire premise of this magic school is like turning monkeys loose in a bomb factory. Give the students mountains of power, don't teach them what to do, then be super freaking surprised when they blow something up, then curse them for their ignorance. Over and over and over.

I'm not asking for reality in a fantasy book. I am trying to accept the author's premise, but if I am to do that, I'd have to believe that the entire school would have blown itself to fine powder and bone fragments by the end of the first semester.

Do not play a drinking game triggered by the words "honestly boy, how could you not have known?" I keep wanting to shout at the book, "Maybe, because the faculty in this school is so monumentally disastrous they couldn't teach their way out of a wet paper bag!" Even J.K. Rowling tried to keep "first years" out of the "restricted section." Here, the librarians hand out matches along side of copies of the Anarchists' Cookbook. And then blame the students when things go awry.

I have a bunch of other hangups, but to be fair there are some things that redeem this book a bit. Rowe is able to capture snarky teenagers pretty well. His teenagers actually sound like you would expect. Faux-clever wordplay, shyness, angst, posturing, even distorted self-awareness. The teens sound like teens. I didn't think this would be too hard until I read Card's "The Gate Thief." Rowe definitely clears the bar here.

The book also has quite a few "puzzle rooms" like in the computer game "Myst." These can be interesting. I suppose whether or not this device is overused is up to the reader. I found them interesting.

Podehl has a strong performance. His accents and voice characterizations are well crafted.

124 people found this helpful

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  • User
  • 2019-02-10

Feels like an RPG

In most magic based series it's hard to understand how strong/skilled a person really is and even harder to truly understand their growth. This author made it a whole lot easier by giving us actual numbers and words any gamer could easily understand.

One of the reviews here states the reader couldn't get passed a certain point because the protagonist of the series isn't remotely as skilled with magic as the reader assumed he would be based on the characters background, I happen to disagree, but maybe we understood that background a little differently.

The main character grew up in a family famous for being very skilled in regards to dueling. In fact it is their militaristic prowess that helped them become nobles in the first place, the author makes it clear that the character was pulled out of public school to be privately trained for the previous 5 years in the art of dueling. And one could assume this meant magic too, but reading onward you should realize that until they receive an attunement magicians are fairly weak and have little to no useful skills. Thus, the character was brought up as a "melee" duelist, he happens to be far more skilled than most of his peers in terms of physical combat. Not magic although he certainly has potential.

I'm not in any way a writer so please pardon any grammatical errors, I have also begun the second book so I'll stop here to avoid any spoilers. Give this series a shot, I definitely believe it deserves it.

102 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Brian
  • 2019-04-10

The protagonist gets on your nerves...

I almost sent this book back, but I kept slogging through it because the story had some potential. I liked some of the characters, some interesting plot twists, but it could not stay on track. It obviously is playing on the success of the Harry Potter line, which I really enjoyed, but it did not do a good job. The plot had "dragon-sized" holes in it. The Tristan "thread" did not ring true or authentic. The whole story with Corin's family was very thin. What is up with Mom?! Corin's level of angst, second-guessing himself and seeming incompetence (which the author describes in excruciating, annoying detail) does not make sense based on the level of training he did. This book was unnecessarily long (please don't have a spell that takes over five seconds to say while you are in combat!). Having said all that I did finish the book.

I am still debating whether I will buy the second book. I have not read the reviews and I don't know if I can take any more of Corin Cadence. If I do, I will have to change my mindset. Just try to enjoy what is done well. I read/listen to a lot of this genre. This is not IMHO a book as good as Rowling, Card, Bujold, Hearne but it has some good points...just not enough of them.

92 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Gus
  • 2017-07-04

My brain was engaged as much as my heart in this.

1st. it probably goes without saying. Nick Podehl is an outstanding Narrator. He is the reason i decided to pick up this book and I am so glad that I did. Not only does he make the story come to life like no other, but it seems like he only reads books that have worthy content.

This book has a lot of world building, a richly thought-out magic system, and strong main characters that really feel good to root for. At the end of the book I found myself drooling with anticipation. Truly a Gem of a book. I cannot wait for the next.

82 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jonathan
  • 2017-07-09

Overall great

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The author did a great job of creating well thought out world.

My problems, which keep me from giving a 5. ** may contain slight spoilers **
Corin - it is annoying how he can so scared and brave throughout the book. In addition, he wants to (has to grow stronger faster than anyone) progress but refuses to use his own mental powers. It's so frustrating.
Plot line - the are many different threads that the author will probably get to but they are weaved in and out and a lot aren't answered.
Characters - are all unique but don't have the greatest depth or growth
Pace - jumps around and gets slow at points.

80 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Eric
  • 2017-07-10

Worth a listen.

What did you love best about Sufficiently Advanced Magic?

This could easily, with a few changes fit squarely in the Lit RPG category. It is not told that way but I get the feeling the idea may have started that way with the author. that is obviously just my opinion and I could be wrong. It is a good book and I will get the next installment as soon as it comes out. There is only one thing in the whole book that irritates me, and again this is just me and may not bother anyone else. The creatures, and there are many are all called simply "monsters" throughout the book. I don't know why precisely, it just grated. Also, I think at this point I would listen to a cook book if it was narrated by Nick Podehl as he seems to only narrate stuff I like, within whatever category it resides. This is no exception.

65 people found this helpful