Reading independently published novels wasn’t something I did before very recently when I first read Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft – the book that changed my mind on the quality of books that don’t go through traditional publishing routes. Since then I’ve been devouring them and this is one of the better ones I’ve come across.
This book was AWESOME!
I’ve never read any LitRPG books before, and I’ll admit I was a little skeptical just because it sounds on its surface to be a book without a lot of substance beyond being ‘fun’ and action packed.
I was so wrong in that assumption – yes, it was fun, but it was a lot more than that.
Through the first 75% of the book I thought I was going to be rating this a 4 star and mention I felt it was more like a 4.25 – but the ending knocked it up to a 5 star rating, I love being surprised! There were several nice twists to the end of the book and significant character development that I felt it was worth the 5 stars.
So, the beginning of this book you meet the main character, this book is single POV and although I usually prefer multi POV – I wouldn’t have wanted this book to be written differently. Corin Cadence is a low-noble born kid going on his Judgment, which is a test of his magical abilities to determine if he’s worthy of entering a magic academy and worthy of an Attunement. I don’t want to go into too many details about what that is, but suffice it to say it gives you a class of magic and there are many different Attunements assigned to people who pass Judgment.
To pass Judgement you go through a series of test set in a Spire – which is a huge tower with shifting chambers full of monsters, puzzles, and more. The chambers shift around, and you have to use a lot of intelligence and magical ability to make it through. It’s dangerous, and it’s not uncommon for prospective students to die before reaching the end.
From the very beginning there’s a lot of action, magic, creatures, and excitement.
You get to follow Corin through the Academy, so if magic schools and learning how to use magic is your thing I think you’d really love this book. I think my favorite professor by far is professor Velum, she reminds me of a cross between Dumbledore and McGonnagal – an older woman with a lot of wisdom, tough, and with a sense of humor.
There are a bunch of secondary characters that are a lot of fun, and fascinating to learn about.
This book is almost ‘technical’ – there are a lot of terms, levels of magic, classes of magic, magical items and ways magic can and cant be used, and the book goes into detail about that. I LOVE that sort of thing. There’s an index at the end of the book if you’re getting confused. I didn’t know about that until I was done with the book though.
If you like video games and like problem solving and puzzles, you’ll get a lot of enjoyment out of this book.
One of the more interesting things about the book for me was the summoned ‘monsters’, some of which can be intelligent and have a conversation with you. Some of them you can bind to you and you can call on them during duels or battles.
The Spire you take your Judgment in also can be re-entered at a later time to grant you further attunements, the more you have the more powerful you are. Your Attuments also ‘level up’ as you go along and it’s measurable. It’s a pretty complex and detailed magic system. There are also multiple Spires, with different countries having access to different spires and each of the spires grants different sorts of attunements. Each country and spire has a different entity guarding it called a Visage, it’s not quite clear what exactly a Visage is – whether they are sons/daughters of the Goddess, or if they were once humans granted God like powers after achieving certain feats – but what we do know is that they are EXTREMELY powerful and generally there is one Visage per tower.
There may be an impending war between God like beings called Visages and different countries, but I can’t go into more of that without giving things away.
I went through this book pretty quickly, thankfully there are chapters so there are clear places to stop or else i may have had an even more difficult time putting it down.
I can’t wait until this is out in print, or on audiobook – I looked into Andrew Rowe’s other books and it looks like Nick Podehl who narrates The King Killer Chronicles also narrates those books so I’ll be getting those ASAP.
This was the most FUN I’ve had with a book in a long time, and although I wouldn’t say there are character ‘arcs’ in the traditional sense there’s a lot of character development, interesting and complex relationships between the characters, and it really helps from making this more of a ‘flat’ read akin to a action movie without a lot of substance which was my original hesitation with this sort of genre.
I’m really sad this book is over already, and I can not wait until the next one comes out. I have a serious case of book hang over and will be waiting anxiously for the second installment, which I’ve been told by the author should be out early next year – YAY