The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett
Heart-wrenching, seat-clenching, and beautifully written. This is really a must read for epic fantasy lovers. The only thing that is in the same league as this, which I've read recently, is Name of the Wind. This may even slightly edge it out although that may be because I am still high on the adrenaline from this book.
The magic does not take center stage so much as the characters' stories magnify the mechanics the author has put in place. Despite there being quite a few characters, they are all distinctive enough to remember and add to the story.
It's not really what I expected and in many ways, so much more than I expected. I can't wait to read Desert Spear, and I lament the fact that the third book is still being written.