There isn't much to say, since so many people have already commented on this book. I will just repeat a line I read in someone else's review: this book has the feeling of Ocean's Eleven or The Italian Job, rather than Lord of the Rings.
There are slivers of humor throughout, a delightful young heroine, a wise but also gentle leader and ... a young, naive hero who surprisingly the heroine has to protect rather than the other way around. The system of magic is unique and described extensively. The story may start somewhat slowly, with the detailed descriptions of the protagonists, land, politics and magic, but after the first 150-200 pages the pace continues to run, with more than a couple of unexpected twists, until the end. The romance was sweet and fun, but as this is fantasy, it was kept low. It has been years since I read a pure fantasy book, but this convinced me to return back to this genre. Even though this could be a stand alone book -no cliffhangers or unsolved issues left at the end- I can't wait to start on the second book, The Well of Ascension.