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Sufficiently Advanced Magic

Arcane Ascension, Book 1
Narrated by: Nick Podehl
Length: 21 hrs and 58 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (435 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 members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Daniel
  • Mt. Lawley, Western Australia
  • 31-08-2017

The Name Of The Wind meets The Maze Runner

Rather than swishing a wand and having all sorts of crazy magic spring out of it, this is a world in which magic and the products of this magic are a tradeable resource, and those lucky enough to weild it will inevitably battle to weild larger amounts and more complex versions of it to improve both their wealth and standing within society. It sets up an interesting dynamic at the university, where everyone is not just concentrating on learning how to use their various types of magic, but battling to gain access to more magic than their peers.

As most young adult books tend to, this story has about 40 hours of reading/listening crammed into half of that so as to not lose the attention of the young adult reader/listener. This isn't a terrible thing, but in the end you are left wondering what might have been, had the author fleshed out some of those ideas a little. Still, not everyone is prepared to sit through 40-50 hours of listening to get through a book, and to cut some of the fringe scenes in favour of an action-packed story could be a winning combination. Reservations though I might have, I am sufficiently hooked and will be continuing on with the series.

Nick Podehl narrates the book in his own well known style. He has this elastic, cartoonish voice which means that the lead character is reminiscent of the likes of Hiccup from How To Train Your Dragon, Hiro from Big Hero Six, or even Jim Lake from Trollhunters. As a result of this, I haven't been able to shake the CGI cartoon imagery from my minds eye, and the whole story plays in my head as a computer generated, animated movie rather than a live-action one. There are worse things that could happen, and there is always a chance that I'm just a crazy person who sees weird things.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

great story and charecters but .....

its a great book with a fun story but the author repeats details ALOT. i think it needs to have a bit more faith in the listeners memory for major details

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Pretty good story

Like a cross between Harry Potter and The Name of the Wind, but not quite as good as either. Good story, original world and well defined magic system but the characters didn't ring true for me. Excellent narration however.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

The heroic procrastinator of irrelevant things

Loved the world, Nick Podehl is one of my favorite narrators - but the MC is constantly just thinking along random trains of thought that have absolutely no relevance to the story from what i can see. Maybe the author wants to give the MC a contemplative air or something, but really its infuriating. If he did less thinking about things that he NEVER does and just acts on is intuition this book would be awesome.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Bursts of entertainment

This story is very intriguing. Well, parts of it are. Unfortunately, the characters are all very dislikeable. In addition, most of the story is just exposition dumps. If I have to hear the words "I'll have to research that more later", or something along a similar vein, I will lose my mind.

The main character whines about everything. Hates physical contact, avoids people (except he doesn't), and basically just complains the whole way through.

His sister is a hypocrite. Main character gets hurt? "Don't ever do that again! You worried me!" She gets hurt? "Leave me alone corrin! It's my body I'll do what I want!" Main character has a secret with a god? "You can't keep secrets from me! I'm your sister and it affects me too!" She has a secret? "I'm allowed to have things to myself sometimes!"

The tone is also all over the place. It's a very serious story, usually told in a serious way, but just randomly tries to be funny. It's not funny, so this doesn't work. Even in the middle of major conflicts, the author tries to be funny. It is incredibly jarring and annoying.

Most of the backstory is just from people talking over and over and over in classes about things that would be cool to see in real time. I get that rules have to be established, but having someone lecture you is just not entertaining to listen to.

The book has moments that are good. There are a few fights and interactions that are awesome. Unfortunately, for every good 30 mins, there is 5 hours of exposition and grating dialogue or character thoughts that just do your head in. This story would be better told by another author.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Read it!

loved it.my new favourite book. read it do not wait! I love magic schools and the main character is really smart. it is so nice not to hate the protagonist ideas

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Spectacular

This is an absolutely amazing find for anyone who enjoys the fantasy genre, definitely reccomended

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Immersive worls of danger

Towers and serpents, gods and family drama, what more could you ask for in a good book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great story - awesome world and magic system

What made the experience of listening to Sufficiently Advanced Magic the most enjoyable?

The story was really engaging and exploring the world and the various attuements and powers was very interesting.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Sufficiently Advanced Magic?

The ending was great. I especially loved the twist at the end with Kerris Salarian

What about Nick Podehl’s performance did you like?

The pace of speech and tempo were great. His narration of Corrin was overall really great.

Any additional comments?

Nick Podehl's narration of female characters was honestly a little annoying. Except for Sera, most of the female leads had a grating irish accent for some reason - did not enjoy it after a while.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A fun, more dangerous and grown up Harry Potter!

Feels like an older and more fun and dangerous version of Harry Potter! 😂

Great magic system, fun and exciting combat, a great fast moving plot, AMD NICK PODEHL OMG, what a voice actor. He's definitely become my favourite 😍

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  • Jason N.
  • 20-07-2017

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.

144 of 160 people found this review helpful

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  • Bee Fisher
  • 23-10-2017

Great beginning to a series

This was such a fantastic book. It took certain things I don't normally care for in a story and made them interesting and good. I like the idea of DnD style challenges and puzzles. And I absolutely love the concept of getting new powers items and abilities thus changing the fundamental capabilities of different characters. I can't wait to read more of the series and see where it all goes.

22 of 25 people found this review helpful

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

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.

40 of 47 people found this review helpful

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  • Joseph Zurat
  • 08-07-2017

Great first volume of a series

Andrew Rowe is definitely writing for me specifically. Both of his series scratch the itch that I feel for Anime/Game-inspired Hard Fantasy. The characters and plots are fun. There are some nice twists at the back end. As far as structure, it feels like each chapter is a chapter or so of a Manga, and the first book is roughly three story arcs. I dig that pacing.

Also, Nick Podehl is always a very consistent reader, and this time is no different. I look forward to more!

46 of 55 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • 11-07-2017

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 .

245 of 297 people found this review helpful

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

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.

54 of 65 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ray Johnson
  • 26-12-2018

Nice start to a good series

This is one of those books that I have heard a lot of people saying that it had a LITRPG feel to it. In fact, it inspired my idea to do this segment in the first place. I would be looking for books and see comments about how lit the book felt or that it should probably qualify as being almost lit, and so it sort of spurred my idea on doing this particular segment. I didn’t do it first, because once I had the idea and asked for suggestions several books popped up that were heavily suggested, and so I ran with them first, but I have always had this book in mind for this segment.

The book opens with a young man, Corin, about to take a life altering test. He comes from a famous noble house that is renowned for its fighting abilities. The test itself is life threatening, and he can die if he doesn’t fight well enough or isn’t smart enough to solve the various puzzles contained therein. Of course he makes it through, but not in the way he expected or in a manner that pleases his father and he is quickly demoted in the family ranking and his half sister gets pushed as the family heir. From there he goes on to a school that will teach him how to use the attunement, I.e. school of magic, that he acquired in the deadly tower. After two years he will then serve in the military. All Corin wants to do is get strong enough to find out what happened to his older brother, who never came back after his tower test. Now this is all a simplification, and things happen in the tower that impact the rest of the novel. Things like Corin freeing three prisoners, angering an aspect of a goddess, and getting the weakest attunement he can.

I have to admit that the book really feels like it was going to be another Harry Potter, pardon me while I vomit, rip off in which we get to see Corin make friends, struggle with other students, and struggle to learn about his magic, and for a little while it really comes across that way, we attend his classes with him, and learn about the magic system but gradually an intrigue starts to build and things happen that pull us back to the tower over and over. Naturally we get to see him improving his magic, but it doesn’t play out like you would expect. For example one of his instructors tells him he needs to get to a certain color level of attunement within three months, and Corin silently vows to get there in a week. Annnnd he doesn’t even come close to fulfilling that vow. The book does that a lot, it sets you up to expect one thing and then does another.

I think the only time that the book actually became predictable was at the end in the tower. I pretty much called every twist and turn that happened, but not because it was easy to see. I kept saying to myself that if I was writing this story this is what I would do here, and then it pretty much happened that way. And that only worked because I am a deeply twisted, troubled individual. The story is long, but it is a well worthwhile trip, and I will probably get the next book in the series. It certainly caught my interest, and had a nice ending that leads right into the next book.

Pohdel is amazing. He pulls out voices that I haven’t heard him do before, and really hits a nice stride with the pacing of the story. I think my favorite voice was of the mysterious upstairs dorm mate who seems to be a ninja. Nick uses a Raj from Big Bang theory voice on him that is dead on, and I do mean perfect. I snickered every time he used that voice, because it was so good.

Now we get down to the nitty gritty, is this LIT, close to it, or not at all? Well, without much suspense I’m going to say not even close. While it was a fun and interesting story with great characters the only part that made it even have a whiff of lit was the way in which he leveled up his abilities and even that part to me was sketchy for a lit book. It was more about practice and control than it was about fighting or gaining exp. I have to admit that I was really disappointed by this assessment, because I was really hoping going in to this that it would be a lot closer than it was. Alack and alas it is not even close in my book. Still, it is a fun ride and I suggest it if you are looking for something close to lit as you might find it interesting. No score on this, as I am only looking to find out if it is lit or not. Still, great book, don’t miss it.

Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. Getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

As seen on the LITRPG AUDIOBOOK PODCAST, please check it out on Youtube.com

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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

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.

64 of 80 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Jonathan
  • 19-12-2017

First ever review

I’m listening to it as I write this. I’m a 75+ books deep and most of those multiple times. This is my first ever review.

Disconcerting. I heard the word “disconcerting” a thousand times. “Well that’s disconcerting” to be more exact. One time, I was thinking about the main character saying “well that’s disconcerting” and would you know it, he said it.

The magic system isn’t very fleshed out. The most in depth it gets is pushing “mana” around through different parts of their bodies. Where the used the mana and where they had a mark changed how the mana works? Don’t know how. Never really effects anything either except that the main character is a little bit of a bitch and is afraid to use his head mana for few of hurting himself. Dude is obsessed about not using his head mana.

There are kinda cool monster and demigod things but, they are talked about more than actually being present in the book. Maybe book 2? I’ll give it a shot mostly because of Nick Podehl. He’s one of my favorites.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael A. Mullin
  • 03-09-2017

very fun book to listen to.

the book is kind of like reading an MMORPG video game. very fun. if you like fantasy video games, you'll like this.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Joe
  • 05-08-2017

Fun "D&D" style adventure.

I really enjoyed this. If you like coming of age stories where a protagonist has to apply problem solving to overcome difficult situations and underdog encounters then you will probably like this.

The style is a bit unique, and I can see a huge influence from D&D or similar. The majority of the "fights" are dungeon type encounters, and other puzzle rooms reminiscent of games and tabletop gaming.

I really enjoyed it, but I could see some might have issues with the pacing in the middle-end of the book.

The narrator was excellent.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 31-07-2017

Awesome

Tower is interesting, the magic is well thought out with good rules and it keeps you on your toes. great ending to book one 1. loved it

15 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Steven Richardson
  • 22-08-2017

Amazing world building

I loved this story and was amazed by the level of detail given to the world. I could imagine this being made into a epic RPG game I would love to play.

The story was excellent and well thought out. I didn't see the final twist coming and it was very interesting.

I am looking forward to any more in this series as there is so much more to be explored in the world and the story line.

Also I though the narrator did an excellent job and made it an enjoyable listen. Hope it's not too long till the next.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 27-01-2018

Glad I kept going!

I regretted purchasing this book for some time as I struggled with the narrator's voice, but im.really glad I persisted. The story is excellent, a unique fantasy world and a twisting story that is well written. I even grew to... tolerate the narrator. I'm already looking for more from this writer!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Artemis
  • 03-10-2017

This Author Needs a Dictionary

To look up and learn the meaning of the word, "Appearance". I cant name the protagonist's hair colour...or anyone of the other character's hair colour. Or what they look like. Or anything else about them.

A good story. But I have only the vaguest idea of what the world looks like.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 21-08-2017

Loved the funny voices of the narrator, good night

I can finally have a proper sleep, it's indeed true that, it will keep you up at night and now I can't wait to start with the next one. The narrator improve the experience, making it more colorful with the different accents given to the different characters. Overall all it's a good book for teenagers, with a good vocabulary and it is amusing for both genders. I would recommend it after the works of Jk Rowling and Suzanne Collins

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 18-03-2018

not too bad... well just okay... it was alright.

the magic system was unique but some times un-necessarily over powers the story. the main character's progression through the story is always underwhelmed by his mental regression so the two contanstly flip-flop back and forth which becomes tedious at times. Nick Podehl does an excellent performance but sometimes his voices don't range very well, which mixes up whose actually talking. otherwise enjoyed it and looking to what follows.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • J. Smith
  • 10-02-2018

Very niche book

I brought this audio book after really enjoying Nick Poedhels narration of Cephraels hand. I enjoyed his voice regardless of the story.

The book itself is more like a narration of a dungeons and dragons game than a fantasy epic. The characters are unfortunately fairly typical, I didn't feel myself warming to them sadly.

The story revolves around a 17 year old in a 'magical school'. The world building and magic system are good and offer some interest but in terms of story it fell flat. The author tries desperately to draw the audience in with a number of twists, however they are so cliched that I was waiting for them to happen. I will probably buy the next part to pass the time driving to work. All in All, the story is ok, it just didn't wow me

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jonathan Blackwell
  • 15-01-2018

Trash fantasy but really fun

I really enjoyed this book. It was exciting and fun. You always feel as though the characters are progressing & improving in their skills, part of the reason people love playing RPGs.

It is a book I would be ashamed of telling anyone I had read mainly because the author makes it too much like an RPG. There is so much focus on “levels” & people having 48 mana that I started to cringe. More like playing Diablo 2 than reading a book in the end. I hope the sequels feel more genuine as a story and less focused on the magic system.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Erik Vellama
  • 19-10-2017

A computer game?

like a literacy form of a (computer) game, for people, who doesn't play themselvea. More specifically, a RPG (roleplaying game). Thus, it doesn't justify the execptionally high rating for me.

On a positivw side. Main character wasn't hero himself, he was a glue, which held group together. Emphatic guy, relatively witty and also doing smart things and acting quickly; also not a selp blaming type ("oh noes, it is all my fault!" starting with bad guys actions and ening with poverty and famine in the world).


Overally, I'd rather play a game, than listen to another part in series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful