Sonea is a slum dweller. Each year slum dwellers are driven out of the city (an event which has links back to a time of famine, but now is habitual law-and-order puffery from the king). The Magicians assist the guard in driving the 'dwells' out to minimise fighting and casualties (which these days are usually only from people being crushed in the crowd). This is pretty much the only interaction dwells have with Magicians, since they cannot afford their healing, and so Magicians are hated and feared.When Sonea shows an unexpected gift for magic, and the Magicians' attempt to capture her results in the accidental death of the person standing next to her, she not unnaturally runs and hides, convinced they're out to kill her. But Sonea does not understand that her powers, once awoken, will run out of control, and so the Magicians must find her and win her trust before that happens.The Magicians' Guild is a cleanly written, reasonably paced book which, while it might not hold particular surprises for an experienced reader of fantasy, effectively delivers a young-mage-coming-of-age story.Sadly, for the most part my emotion while reading this book was impatience. It was so patently clear that Sonea was going to end up joining the Guild (particularly since this is a trilogy about the magicians) that reading half a book of Sonea avoiding the Guild felt like time-marking. It all seemed inevitable. Cery was probably the most enjoyable part of this story, but since there was a strong indication that joining the Guild would make Cery "part of the past", even that felt like a lot of characterisation which is going to go to waste in the future.Once Sonea is captured by the Guild, there is a little more tension built by the question of whether she will throw her lot in with Patently Evil Guy (after all the distrust she throws away on Rothen, it's a pity she doesn't spare any for PEG until he goes into My Evil Plan Will Not Be Thwarted mode).The characters were distinctly drawn - wary Sonea, daring Cery, kindly Rothen, etc, but none of them really stood up and made me love them. My heart wasn't captured.I was relatively intrigued by the question of whether the High Magician is really evil or (as I partway expect) really good, but using questionable methods but this isn't enough for me to want to read on with this trilogy.Oh, on the female character count: 1 main female character, no other important female characters, bit-part female characters treated well.