Thobel is a harsh world filled with numerous things that can kill you at a run. The way Eliza sees it, magic belongs in a world like this. On Earth, when dinosaurs were around, humans weren't. Truth is weak little mammals like us wouldn't have had much of a chance in a world with so many teeth and claws. Therefore, magic becomes a necessary tool. Imagining it developing by natural selection isn't such a stretch. And hey, not everybody on Thobel has it. Then there are things that can resist it. In other words, Thobel humans get a sporting chance, but a chance is all it is. If they don't use their wits, they will probably end up as dinosaur snacks.
Obviously, Eliza didn't come up with this. Fantasy, as a rule agrees that meditation is important for sorcery, and it's not really a surprise. If losing your temper might cause you to set things on fire, then you'd probably want to have a good handle on your emotions.
Luckily, Zalene already studied meditation with her sister, Talana. Why? You can figure that Talana felt everybody needed to find their center. She also probably built up the habit to start her day that way. Zalene doesn't mention that her mother also enforced the notion of meditation, though you can figure that is likely. Her mother had hoped Zalene would be this all powerful anomaly who showed signs of power at a ridiculously young age. Yes, anybody under five would probably not have a grasp of the point of meditation. On the other hand, at an age where tantrums are likely, and in a world where a tantrum could conceivably take someone's head off, a parent would be smart to do anything to stack the odds in their favor.
Magical power on Thobel often specializes, though certainly some races have different statistical norms than others. For example, many of the best healers are Minorthern, something you wouldn't necessarily know from just the first book. Minorthern is the race that Carlen is -- dark hair, light skin, haling from Polean or Sonra. These northern countries have societal differences that over time produced a lot of healers. At the point in Thobel History that "Something Special" covers, the all-powerful emperor of Sogell has made deals that allow him to draw most of these people into his service. Another statistical fact: Cenall produces more pullers than anything else. These mages fall into the "general sorcerer" category, but their magic is like Cypress' magic in that they move things with telekinesis. There are other specializations coming out of Cenall, where the people are usually red haired and very pale, but statistically they have more pullers than anything else. Sogelli's have more war mages (think Ysa), and they definitely have a conquering attitude. All the races have magic users along the whole spectrum. You'll note that Hickory imagines Qataeba magic is very different than any Zalene has seen. This is not strictly true, though the Qataeba are closer to nature than their neighbors and their take on magic is a little more nature oriented. They also have a special relationship with trees that no other race can boast. Only Zalene breaks that rule.
Power specializations are generally overseen by a guild in Enchantment though there is not a general sorcery guild or a guild for things like memory manipulation or necromancy (which are simply considered taboo forms of magic on most of the continent). Namothans and Achmaria are the only ones who have spent any time developing those scary tricks. The seven guilds are listed below with a description of each.
Battle Guild - Overseeing all war mages, the battle guild develops offensive spells and welcomes all magic fighters. This means they regularly welcome pullers because that magic is pretty handy in a fight. They also have a special relationship with elements mages, often trying to lure them away from the Elements Guild. A true war mage is generally really good with fire, and they are incredibly hard to burn (not impossible though). Ysa regularly pours fire from her open palms. She can work in the smithing forge and doesn't need smithing gloves for most of that work. True war mages have foe sense and know when attacks are coming.
Abjuration Guild - This is the guild that oversees protections magic and welcomes anyone with a penchant for protection. A puller could also be drawn here because the same force that can summon a stone can push it away. The Abjuration Guild also is a draw for any sorcerer who has an interest in architecture or engineering. Protection spells can make structures that couldn't otherwise stand into immovable objects. Vara is a true abjuration mage, and she can sense protection spells as well as create them. This is her specialty and she is much stronger than her cousin Hamier who is also an Abjuration Mage. Abjuration magic is closely related to enchantment magic in that it can be set for a full year without reinforcement. But they often work hand in hand with enchanters to make their spells more permanent. One other abjuration mage in the story is Vethi, who has a unique twist to her magic, she can make protection charms. This is unusual but certainly helped in the slavery underground.
Enchanters Guild - This is the guild that oversees all charm makers. Enchanting is considered an inactive magic because the practice requires preparation. This doesn't mean that Enchanters aren't important; magic charms are in great demand. A strong charm can even outlive its maker. The strongest current member of the Enchanters Guild is Tavia, though both her husband and her brother-by-law Zoham are enchanters. Although she lacks Tavia's raw power, Corspia is in higher standing with this guild. This is because experience makes all the difference with inactive magic. With enough experience, an enchanter could basically cover all the other magics, though they'd have to have a charm for each spell. A true enchanter can sense charms and even break down the process. Raw power level determines how strong that sense is.
Potioners Guild - This is the guild that oversees potion makers. Like enchanters, the members of this guild are considered to have inactive magic. Again, preparation is everything. Noma and Rissa are potioners, as is Professor Loretke (who only gets a mention in "Something Special". Expect more from him in the future.) A true potioner can sense ingredients, though it isn't foolproof and doesn't guarantee they will know how much of something goes into a recipe. It's such a precise field that great potioners of the past were considered the strongest of magic users because they had to understand the logistics of magic more completely than most. A good potioner can do nearly anything any other magic user can do -- even healing. The Potioners Guild works hand in hand with the Healers Guild to keep people healthy.
Healers Guild - This is the guild that oversees healers. Healers are exactly what they sound like -- the magic users that heal people, though some do heal animals instead. Healers can sense the health of an individual and can manipulate the human body to heal itself rapidly in every sense. This is a very unique brand of magic because it actually requires touch. This means a healer can also "unheal" a person to defend themselves, but only if they can touch them. A healer is also unique because they can potentially pass their energy to someone non-related. There is little call for that. Healers come in different strengths and they also have specializations. L'Kai is a very strong healer with an unmatched healer sense. Her magic specializes to skeletal health which makes her probably the best healer around for a broken leg. She was able to sense a broken back from fifty yards away, but it wouldn't have worked if the injured party had magic. Sorcerers can hide their condition from healer sense as long as there isn't touch. Other healers in the series (currently): Molayna (L'Kai's mother), L'Kai's husband Elob (her ex by the end of the series), Verbena, Cinnamon and Aspen. The latter three are Qataeba so they wouldn't be welcome in the Healers Guild. Not yet anyway.
Sages Guild - Prescience magic is a most misunderstood field. The ability to sense the future is magic that is entirely in the mind and sages come in different strengths. Most use something to help them see the the futures (crystals, crystal balls, runes, cards, and even a potion). The Sages Guild oversees all image readers and image planters (the latter are commonly called mind walkers). In both cases, the magic has pretty dire consequences to the sorcerer. Seers often go crazy from trying to sort through constant changing futures. Mind walkers often have their reality skewed by images they have planted in others. Few mind walkers attend the university because their branch of magic is often met with suspicion. Pariev was never part of the Sages Guild, but he would have been the strongest they'd ever seen.
Elements Guild - This is the guild that oversees nature magic. A powerful Elements mage can call lightning, rain, snow, or even tornadoes. The Elements Guild is the smallest of the guilds because elements magic is very rare. Bits and pieces of this discipline often turn up in the abilities of a general sorcerer, but only one in fifty magic users are born with true elements magic. Of those, a strong elements mage is pretty rare, but so dangerous that the Governing Council of Nozhamsibad tracks them. Much of Zalene's natural leaning is elements magic.
As stated, there is no general sorcery guild. Often general sorcerers either teach at the university, get absorbed by Nozhamsibad's Governing Council, or end up working in the guild that draws their interest. General sorcerers in this series: Talana, Carlen, Lobo Coreet, and of course, most of the Qataeba magic users, though again, Qataeba don't currently attend the magic university and are generally unwelcome in much of the continent.