The parts of this book that were good were very good - engaging and entertaining. Unfortunately, the parts that weren't good, led by some pacing problems and a lot of really obvious plot decisions that sucked the tension out of many scenes for me, were enough to really drop the bottom out of my enjoyment of the book overall.Starting with the good, the parts of the world that are fleshed out are largely unique and interesting, and when the characters and plot click, it can be an incredible read. I thought one of the strongest bits was the part at the end when Aron is getting used to life with Stone and gets himself an enemy of sorts within the ranks of the apprentices. His friendship with zed and the emnity they face and then way the bullying escalates was natural and well-paced and at the same time really interesting.On the other hand... the bad. The start of the book is pretty good, but then the first major conflict is introduced and so begins the parade of plot devices that broadcast themselves. As soon as we hear about Stone coming and Aron's fears, we know he'll be chosen and that he won't see his family again, probably because they'll be dead because that's what happens in fantasy. And when the first non-related woman shows up, my first thought was "love interest?" And so it was, but the romance comes pretty much out of left field and develops into another fantasy cliche, the love triangle that's not really a triangle because the pivot is only really interested in one of them. I couldn't really get interested in any of the main characters because they felt like stand-ins for fantasy tropes - the farmboy with a hidden power and great destiny, the wise and kind mentor, and the capable and beautiful love interest. Would that the plot were as creative as the world.Then there's the strange POV choices. As a perfect example, there's a moment where Aron, newly taken from his family, is essentially confronted with their ghosts intent on killing him. Yet the narrative chooses to show this from the pov of a completely different character, robbing the scene of a good amount of emotion it might otherwise have had. Another small but bothersome point that really threw me out of the story - Aron is utterly confused that people would think he's special, but he is being hunted by the lord of his land, who may have marked him for death years earlier; he has a massively powerful ability, not seen in this potency for a long time, which essentially lets him do whatever he wants to anyone or anything if he develops it; and he was chosen as the apprentice of a leader among Stone, which means also that he's likely expected to follow that master's footsteps into that position of power. Despite all this, his confusion is not couched heavily either in terms of minimizing his powers or of denial. The result makes Aron seem stupider than most of his other dialogue would suggest.Also, there's the pacing - after a really promising start outside the telegraphed plot points, the book pulls the drag chute for a stretch of about 100 pages, settling into an extended training montage which seems to tread water more than it moves forward.All in all, this could have been an incredible book and just wound up leaving me feeling... meh. I kept waiting for a plot moment to go some way other than exactly how I expected, and it kept disappointing me. I liked several of the characters at points and will probably pick up the second at some point, but despite the massive cliffhanger at the end of the book, I'm in no real hurry.