This fantasy took a number of typical tropes and combined them to make a strong and interesting story. Two orphans grow up together, join the army, and suddenly one of them sprouts magical powers. They are separated "for the good of the country" and we follow the suddenly-powerful girl-become-woman to the heart of the magical caste. The middle third of the book is spent on her classes and emotional isolation. Of course, the reason for the magical caste is mostly to fight "The Fold" which could just as easily be "The Darkness" (a Harry Potter joke). In fact, at one point I was giggling about "casting magic missle against The Darkness!" because that is what the book had been implying.
So. The story is pitched to YA even though the characters are indistinguishable adults. Somewhere near the end we hear about "back when I was 15" but that is really the only time we get a relative age grasp. There is no sex, and only one major makeout scene. Honestly, there was too much romance in the loyalty for my taste, but I understand how it got there.
I picked it up out of my birthday gift pile from my sister. I recommend this book to fans of The Blue Sword (the heroine being dragged through the story by magic).
Books and stories read for 2013