On the planet of Amedia, the sentience that is the World grants Magic to whomever it chooses. Normally, that means someone born of Wizard lineage ... in fact, Wizards have declared it near blasphemy for anyone born Plain to use Magic.
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Astra Fairweather was born Plain — no Wizard in her lineage, no Magic in her past.
Except that Amedia gives her Magic, anyway.
On a cold winter night, the World sends its emissary to Astra, urging her to perform Magic for the first time. She does - right before the disbelieving eyes of Wizard André Skyecatcher.
Fortunately, Skyecatcher doesn’t believe in the Plain/Wizard Magical divide and takes Astra under his wing. With the help of Hucklebee Stonecraft — a Wizard College professor and adviser to Grand Wizard Forturian Stormcloud — he readies Astra to compete in the Summer Apprentice competition.
Astra's path becomes even harder when Skyecatcher discovers that Astra’s Magic is Instinctive, a powerful form of Magic only the Grand Wizard himself is known to possess.
Still, despite the antagonism of her peers, Astra manages to win the friendship of one fellow competitor — and the competition ... just in time for the World to end.
Blight, a Wizard banished from Wizard society long before, returns with a plan to kill all Magic by killing all Wizards. At first he slays hundreds — including Stormcloud ... but then he faces Astra, whose Instinctive power and the uncanny skill with which she wields it, drives Blight from the scene, leaving Astra, her teachers, and the other apprentices, to pick up the pieces.