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Review

 

Sufficiently Advanced Magic by Andrew Rowe

Sufficiently Advanced Magic by Andrew Rowe
4.5
Book Name: Sufficiently Advanced Magic
Author: Andrew Rowe
Publisher(s): Self-Published
Formatt: Paperback / Audiobook / Ebook
Genre(s): Fantasy / LitRPG
Release Date: April 23, 2017

Ferris Bueller Goes to Hogwarts: the Video Game.

Though both have left tire tracks over my books in the charts and competitions, I can’t decide whether I hold a deeper grudge against Jonathan French’s Grey Bastards or Andrew Rowe’s Sufficiently Advanced Magic. For whatever reason, Amazon classifies LitRPG as Asian Myths and Legends, and as an author of Asian-themed fantasy, I could do nothing as Sufficiently Advanced Magic knocked one of my books out of the top spot in that insignificant category. I’m sure Mr. Rowe didn’t even notice then, nor a year later when his sequel dislodged yet another one of my books, because both of his have dominated the major fantasy subcategories, and he was busy watching book one vault to finalist in Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off 2017.

Like with Grey Bastards, I went into this latest vanquisher wanting to hate it. Like Grey Bastards, I came out loving it.

Not from the start, however: though LitRPG genre conventions apparently necessitate Dungeon Crawls, and main character Corin’s foray into the Serpent Spire kicks off the story. The tower is a maze of shifting rooms, marauding monsters, puzzles, and an occasional god-like figure. Think a VERY LARGE escape room that you might die in. While it’s a crash course in the intricate worldbuilding of Rowe’s story, I didn’t feel connected enough to Corin at that point to feel invested in whether or not he survived.

Spoiler: He does, otherwise, it would be a very short book. Besides finding a magic book that facilitates messages with an unknown entity, and a possibly-cursed sword, the most important outcome of the dungeon crawl is that Corin receives an attunement—a sigil that confers magic power.

This gets him into the magic university. It sounds cool, but as the scion of battlemages with a grouchy father intent on upholding the family legacy, Corin is aghast that his attunement qualifies him for the Enchanter school—in this world, that means making items which can store magic, like wands or Mana Meters. Even if the Enchanter name is cooler, that’s like being stuck in Hogwarts’ Hufflepuff; and Corin now has to compete with his half-sister, Sarah as heir to the family—since their eldest brother went missing during his own jaunt into the Serpent Spire.

As the main character, Corin has an interesting, oftentimes adorable mix of OCD qualities and laziness. If you subscribe to the theory of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off that Ferris is Cameron’s imaginary alter ego a la Fight Club’s Tyler Durden, then Corin is both. He can be timid one moment, but the need to protect and help can push him to do great things. He is an endearing character who makes the most of his Enchanting attunement.

Surrounding him is a cast of memorable secondary characters, from crotchety teachers to powerful mages whose dialog comes off like surfer dudes. They bring the story to life, though in the worldbuilding, like in M. L. Spencer’s Darkstorm, it is not immediately clear if there are muggles or not.

That’s because the entire story revolves around an intricate magic system. Colored gem ranks. Crystals which hold mana. Attunements which store mana potential. In this, it felt very much like a video game or RPG. As someone who hasn’t played either in years, it did slow the pace a little for me. Still, there is an intriguing subplot of spies and war, which helped keep me engaged. The twist at the very end blew my mind.

With the memorable cast, complex worldbuilding, and clever plot, I rate Sufficiently Advanced Magic a 4.5 out of 5, or about the equivalent of Emerald Level.

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