Sufficiently Advanced Magic


Andrew Rowe has introduced me to a sub-genre of fantasy I didn’t even know existed. Sufficiently Advanced Magic is unlike anything I have ever read. I have read a ton of novels in the fantasy genre but this was the first in a sub-genre known as litRPG. I am planning on doing an entire post about this type of book, but for those of you that don’t know what a litRPG is, I’ll quickly explain.

LitRPG, short for Literary Role Playing Game, is a literary genre that combines the conventions of massively multiplayer roleplaying games with science-fiction fantasy novels. Books where games or game-like challenges form an essential part of the story. A LitRPG narrates the story of characters inside and outside of the game-world. At least some of the characters in a LitRPG novel understand that they are playing a game. A decent example of a litRPG could be Ready Player One or something like Sword Art Online.

Now, Sufficiently Advanced Magic doesn’t fit into this genre perfectly, it does share a lot of the same qualities. Magic users for example in this story are aware of how much mana they have in number format like 23/100(23 out of 100). The main character even uses a device that displays this number for everyone to see.

“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.”
― Andrew Rowe, Sufficiently Advanced Magic

The Story

Sufficiently Advanced Magic follows a character named Corin Cadence. Five years ago, his brother entered the Serpent Spire, an immense tower with shifting rooms, traps, puzzles, and monsters. This tower reminds me of The Legend of Zelda in a lot of ways. Those who survive the spire’s trials return home with an attunement. An attunement is a mark granting the bearer magical powers. A person’s first trip into one of the towers usually takes place on a single floor and is only a trial to see if the person is worthy of an attunement.  According to legend, however, those few who reach the top of the tower will be granted a boon by the spire’s goddess.

Corrin’s brother never returned from his trial.

Now, it’s Corin’s turn. He enters the tower, and without spoiling too much, he gains an attunement and exits the tower. This all happens very quickly in the first part of the book. Most of the rest of the story takes place at a school where newly attuned study their given attunement and learn to use it effectively. After schooling, the students are required to serve a number of years in the military. Corrin’s objective is to score high enough in school to ensure he gets a place as one of the militaries “climbers”. He needs to get to the top floor to meet the goddess. The journey won’t be easy, but Corin won’t stop until he gets his brother back.

“It was the day of my Judgment, and I was prepared in a thousand ways that didn’t matter.”
― Andrew Rowe, Sufficiently Advanced Magic

Worth Reading?

I wouldn’t be writing this review if it wasn’t. When I started reading this book, I didn’t know what to expect. After the first couple of chapters, I wasn’t sure if I liked the way it was written. I was confused because as I was reading it, I felt like I was playing a video game or reading a D&D campaign. Monster’s dropped Items after being slain, rewards were given out after solving puzzles, and the whole tower experience was like a quest straight out of a video game. I was expecting Corin to “ding!” at any second as if he reached experience level 2, gaining 25 HP and increasing his STR and AGI by +2 or something. It was extremely fast paced and straight into the action of solving puzzles and slaying monsters. I’m glad I kept reading because the more I read, the more I realized just how deep this world and it’s characters were.


There are going to be minor spoilers from here on out. Up until this point I’ve really only skimmed the surface of what this book is about, and only really about the first 2-3 chapters. I won’t spoil any major plot points but I am going to go into more depth about my 2 favorite parts of the book: the characters and the magic system.

“Does he always try to solve problems by making bigger ones?”
Orden nodded sagely, “That would sum up Corin’s problem solving methodology quite appropriately”
― Andrew Rowe, Sufficiently Advanced Magic


Corin Cadence

Obviously, if you have been reading you know this is the main character of the book. Everything in the book is told in the first person and part of why I love this character is because of the way he talks to himself in his head. He tends to over think everything. He is quick witted and caring but is often socially inept. His attunement is an enchanters mark. This comes as a disappointment to him at first because it’s not exactly the most effective attunement for combat and he is desperate to get to the top of the spire to save his brother. He reminds me in some was of one of our top 10 fantasy charicters, Kvothe from The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss.

Sera Cadence

Corin’s step-sister. Sera is a summoner. She is one of the more powerful characters magically speaking. She, like Corin, is newly attuned and is preparing herself the go back into the tower. In some ways, she reminds me of Hermione Granger. She’s probably the most confident of the group and rightfully so. The summoners attunement allows her to cast spells that her contracted monsters have access to and even summon copies of those monsters to fight for her.

Patrick Wayland

Patrick was one of Corin’s best friends growing up but lost contact for years when Corin left his home to train for his judgment. They later reunited at the school. Through their time of being together at school they rekindled their friendship and before a formal dance, Patrick asked Corin to make him a retainer for House Cadence. If Sera is the Hermione of the group, Patrick is definitely the Ronald Weasley of the group. Or, pick any one of your favorite loyal sidekicks. This isn’t to say that Patrick is a bland character by any stretch of the imagination. I love characters that are loyal to a fault, willing to die to protect something honest and good. He just fits nicely into the sidekick stereotype.


There are obviously more than just the 3 characters but these 3 are the main focus of the story. Jin, a foreign exchange student, and Marissa another student both join Corin in his quest. There is a lot of potential for these 2 characters in future books. I would love to see what direction the author takes these two.

“Apparently, just adding mobility by itself would add force to my motions without any stability, so I’d basically be blasting myself forward with each step. Hilarious, but impractical.”
― Andrew Rowe, Sufficiently Advanced Magic

Magic System

I love when books have a solid magic system in place with rules. It’s always fun to have magic without boundaries in books like in Lord of the Rings where Gandalf can just make up spells on a whim, but having a system with set rules really excites me. It makes me think harder. The system in place here is deep. At first glance, while I was reading it seemed pretty straightforward. After finishing the book I realize just how much thought went into this.


Each student that makes it through the trial and lands themselves at the school has an attunement. Diviner, enchanter, guardian, elementalist, mender, shadow, shaper, and summoner are the 8 attunements that are granted from this particular tower. Later you find out that there are 6 total spires and a 7th one is rumored to exist. There are different but similar attunements in each of the other towers as well. Assuming there are 7 spires and 8 attunements in each spire that brings us to a total of 56 different attunements(of course I am only guessing).


Each attunement comes with the ability to use 2 different types of mana. A primary mana and a secondary mana. Examples of these would be fire, water, air, earth, life, umbral. There are others like grey mana and transference mana but those are harder to understand. Some of these can even be combined to create new effects like air and fire make lightning. Each type of mana also has an opposite like fire and water.

I’m starting to geek out

So, the reason I love this so much… Think about how many cool things the author can do with this system. It’s crazy! Oh, and I almost forgot people are not just limited to having one attunement. They can get more attunements and thus more types of mana and even more combinations of cool powers! In this first book of the series, you learn that the magic system is deep and complex. It’s fun to think about what attunements would complement each other the most and how they can be combined. As complex as this system is tho, I feel that I have only begun to scratch the surface with what can be done with it, and that excites me for the next book in the series!

Whats next?

Go buy this book! Especially if you like video games, you won’t regret it. Sufficiently Advanced Magic by Andrew Rowe was self-published and was the Winner of the Stabby Award for Best Self-Published Novel of 2017. You can get it for free with your kindle unlimited subscription, buy it outright on Amazon, or listen to the amazing performance that Nick Podehl brings to the audiobook. Please leave me a comment below if there is a book you are reading that you want to share. Let me know what you think of the review. Point me to your own blog if you like.

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