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Summary

After concluding their first year at Lorian Heights, Corin and his friends catch a train from their native Valia to the distant country of Caelford.

For most, this would be a simple vacation. Corin has other plans: 

  • Meet Anabelle Farren, the eccentric owner of Farren Labs, and learn about artificial attunements.
  • Seek out Warren Constantine, a previous Arbiter, for training and a potential alliance.
  • Find the visage Ferras herself to seek a cure for Sera's condition.

Of course, Corin is Corin, and there's absolutely no chance he's going to be able to stick to a list. Even if he miraculously developed a sense of focus, he isn't the only one with plans.... 

The Blackstone Bandit. Everyone's favorite mysterious book entity. The aforementioned Farren. A vacationing professor. The mirror of a figure from Keras' past. When their plots intersect, Corin and his friends are, predictably, stuck at the center.

It's going to be a long vacation.

©2021 Andrew Rowe (P)2021 Podium Audio

Critic reviews

Winner of the 2020 Stabby Award for Best Self-Published/Independent Novel!

What listeners say about The Torch That Ignites the Stars

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    1 out of 5 stars

After three books I am checking out

If you've got through the first two books: you know the bit at the start of book one where there are several chapters of a thinly disguised video game dungeon?

That is the second major chunk of this book and it is even worse.

"Protagonist and friends go on holiday and sidequests happen" is as best a description I can make of this, and this was already a series that wastes a LOT of time.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Not much happens

Great quality as usual by Nick Podehl, a shame a the story isn't really going anywhere

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Continues to be my favourite book series

It's a great in between story and while it might not be satisfactory for every one it continues to expand the amazing world building and be able to be both funny and serious and the appropriate time. Can't wait for the next one

1 person found this helpful

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Awesome

I pre purchased this and awaited the next instalment of the series, hoping for more of the same.
The only disappointment was reaching the end far quicker than I wanted it to.
Already on my 2nd listening and will have to wait months for the next book.
I’m sure the cliff hanger will be worth the wait.

1 person found this helpful

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Constantly brilliant

Fantastic book. Vivid writing. A winter break of epic proportions. Twists, turns and a Big fat cliffhanger.

1 person found this helpful

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Another great addition

Was a fun listen and just as Andrew described.

My only complaint was that it was too short!

1 person found this helpful

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The epic tale continues

Andrew Rowe continues to impress and entertain me with AA. This book is filled with more world building, vivid scenes, unique character growth and an EPIC tale. I will not spoil it for you, listen it to it yourself!

I'm fully invested and can't wait for more. Particularly if Nick Podel continues to narrate this book.

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent!

I've been following Rowes books for a while now and I've listened to them all multiple times but Arcane Ascension is by far my favourite and I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for the next book!

1 person found this helpful

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Detailed but very enjoyable.

I thoroughly enjoy this book. I understand the reviews about it being a lesson in magic theory, but it adds to the immersion. It would be impossible to jump into the series with this book. But if you have read the first two, I highly recommend it.

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need the next book now

i consider this the 9th book in the series. and I'm utterly in love with the world. the humour never fails to make me chuckle with the mimic thing haha and the trauma of it. keras will forever be my spirit loved it. every part

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  • Joseph
  • 13-05-21

Starts a lot of plotlines, doesn't continue any.

I think this series is turning in a direction that I really don't like. I am not a fan of long-running series in general. I like the tight trilogy, the three, maybe four book arc. Unfortunately this author is writing this book like he has 14 more in which to explore his plot. He starts a dozen new plotlines and introduces a bunch of new characters while moving the pre-existing plotline almost not at all. Also it heavily references the author's other books that are part of this universe but not part of the main series which is just annoying. If I had to read the side books to understand this one then make them part of the main story, don't make me feel clueless just because you don't know how to write a cohesive plot.

I'm probably done with this series after this installment. What a letdown.

89 people found this helpful

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  • Jeremy
  • 13-05-21

Boring and Tedious

I literally could not listen to this anymore. This book was going nowhere. It consists of back and forth banter that does not advance the story in any way. I listened for a few hours on and off and finally decided to return it.
I enjoyed the first two books in this series, as well as the spin-offs. I think this might be the last one in this series that I listen to. The reviews obviously can't be trusted. I cannot believe that someone actually gave this book a five-star review. Lately it seems as if authors are just adding filler books in the series to boost profits and not advancing the plot or storylines.

75 people found this helpful

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  • D. Neill
  • 14-05-21

Relationship Fails

Relationships. That’s what destroys this book, and really, the overarching story. The first book, Sufficiently Advanced Magic was great, though signs of relational incompetence were there, the overall story, presentation, and especially, Nick Podehl’s performance, saved the book. Each subsequent book has seen the gross incompetence of the author, when it comes to relationships, subsume the rest of the book and the characters.

There is nothing realistic in the way these characters interact. The dialogue and reactions read like a mental conversations I had with myself in my early teen years. The main character, Corin, demonstrates either supreme selfishness or split-personality disorder. In one moment, he’s a neurotic boy on the autism spectrum, in the next, he’s the psychologist who’s treating a neurotic boy on the autism spectrum. Corin will simultaneously identify the appropriate human reaction and deliberately refuse to do it because: reasons. It appears that Mr. Rowe is attempting to portray a autism spectrum person in a sympathetic light, but all he’s done is prove that Corin is not on the spectrum, rather is a self absorbed, spoilt brat. Being in Corin’s head is what I imagine being a trust-fund baby is like.

Time and time again, interactions between characters read like “ought to behave this way” lectures, rather than genuine human companionship and conflict. I suppose if you were to establish a group of people by requiring a minimum number of psychiatric disorders to be included, you may find naturally occurring group dynamics like those that surround Corin. To say the relationships seem force and artificial is about the best compliment I can give the book’s character development. Decisions are arbitrary and often capricious. The most common reaction I have to the characters’ behaviors is confusion followed by annoyance. This has quickly turned to apathy. Corin, Sara and the gang do not act like any people I’ve ever known. Their alien behavior makes them boring.

Unfortunately, relationships seem to be the keystone that this story is meant to be built on. Relationships are the weakest and least engaging aspect of the Arcane Ascension series. The world is interesting, the characters are not.

53 people found this helpful

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  • cody king
  • 18-05-21

And then nothing happens

This book is a definite downgrade from the previous books. The end of two relieved alot of the building tension and this book feels aimless without it. This is made worse by the fact that Corrin feels almost superfluous to large portions of the book. Rowe seems to be writing Sarah as Corrin+. She's always right and and is better than him in basically every scenario they run against, and her tendency to treat Corrin like a child got old fast.
To summarize: This book barely feels connected to the plot and poor use of character just makes it worse.

40 people found this helpful

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  • steve
  • 17-05-21

SJW agenda

this author definitely tried to inject as much of his political SJW drivel as he possibly could. every character in this book is gay, no joke. this book is pushing a adenda. stay away from this author, the narrator was good though

32 people found this helpful

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  • Michael
  • 14-05-21

Boring.

Nick P is one of my fave readers and he did a great job. The book itself sucks. The story slowed way down. The book does a lot of 1x1 battles for each character, but Even in the 1x1s they’re mostly characters asking, “do you mind if I take this on myself? Jump in if I’m going to die” so there’s no real feel of danger, just everybody showing how strong they are. It sets up for a seemingly stronger endgame. The trials are long, and drawn out, often with 1 short battle with minimal danger. The murder mystery trial was absolutely terrible, I chalked the book up as a dud after that.

31 people found this helpful

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  • A Man That Exists
  • 22-05-21

This is not it. Not at all.

I've read/listened to every book that takes place in this book's world. Previous entries, side stories, everything I've enjoyed some much more than others, but the world building is good so I've kept going.

This book took considerable effort to finish.
First off this IS a side story there are no two ways about it. This book is 95% cheap filler, with painfully slow pacing. It felt like a way to artificially power up the cast for the next entry. This also made the power ups feel unearned and lazy. I understand Andrew likes his side stories, but this was supposed to be a main line book. I am confident you could move onto the next book with a two page summary of this one and be fine. That's how inconsequential most of the events here felt.

Secondly, I am coming to realize that though Andrew Rowe's world is interesting, his characters are not. Their behavior is unrealistic at best, and akin to cringy teenage fanfiction at worst. They simply do not come across as real people as their behavior, choices, dialog and relationships feel extremely artificial. I can go into this from numerous angles but then this review would become an essay so the only one I'll mention here is the dialog. The dialog between characters outside the main group is fine enough, but dialog and especially banter between members of our main party feels like it was written by a nerdy 13 year old girl. This would be fine if all of these characters were nerdy 13 year old girls, but clearly that's not the case. Thinking back, I believe this issue comes up in all of Andrew's works (that I've read) but is overshadowed by the world building and intrigue brought about by the wider plot. As the world building is scaled back here and the wider plot barely inches forward, these problems become much more evident in this entry.

The last thing I'll bring up in this review is how unlikable I found the character of Sera to be. I don't know if the author's goal was for that be the case but it most was the achieved result, at least for me. She came accross as extremely selfish and self serving, which wouldn't automatically make her character unlikable if it was intentional and executed well. That didn't seem to be the case here. This dislike is exasperated because it also feels like the author would like Sera to be our MC, rather than our actual MC.

This book was severely disappointing. I'll get the next entry, because I enjoy the overall world, but if this level of quality persists that'll be it for me and the works of Andrew Rowe.

28 people found this helpful

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  • Aaron
  • 23-05-21

Found polical agendas where I hoped to find story.

This book definitely belongs in the LGBTQ genre...

Characters are supposed to be young and inexperienced yet somehow they are wise beyond their years, full of humility, and overflowing with empathy and compassion for everyone around them (humans, creatures and inanimate objects....??) They take pains to use politically correct pronouns when referring to both people and monsters...to the point of absurdity.

I personally found the polical motivations distracting. Okay, so the person identifies as “fill in the blank”. Okay, I get it. Then five minutes later..another reminder...again and again and again until I am wondering if this is truly meant to be entertainment or just a form of political indoctrination? But that just my opinion. Hope this helps.

27 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amy R.
  • 11-05-21

So glad to hear Nick bring the story to life again

The gang is on break in Caelford and so much happens! I love how much we learn during this book and an interaction with a certain professor stands out as one of my favorite moments from this book.

The tone shift is different in this book - we had school and the newness and fun of magic in the first two, and now we are really learning about the broader socio-political implications of the world and just what Corin is involved in. The stakes are higher and I can’t wait for AA4!

21 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Elena Foulkes
  • 12-05-21

kind of a side quest

Sarah is suspicious of every person they meet and that is completely warranted but gets old quickly and the quibbling between corin and her gets annoying so annoying that if you drank alcohol every time they said a witty remark towards each other you would get drunk within a chapter.
Sara is op as hell now or going to be when her scaring is completely healed which is not a big problem in her fight's, Corin and mara are also op though for Patrick it's hard to tell because it's mentioned that he's talented but there aren't actually many fights and Patrick doesn't really fight or even appear in any of them,Cecily is new and doesn't have that many appearances ether but her relationship with Corin is wierd and I'd rather see more of jin plus not big on the Shy thing and the romance parts are cring

in total great world building not much action at all which made a lot of bots boring especially when they went into the tower but it's a good precursor for book 4 that will probably be action packed, some questions awnsered but even more have been raised which is how I like it, would have liked more Caris in general but I guess I'll have to wait around two years for book 3 of the sacret sword side arc thing and even longer for the next book in this series to come out but as long as it's got a lot more action I'll be happy

20 people found this helpful