In EFE, the magic system is slightly different (it's more like Master of Magic). Each time your sovereign gains a level, he can choose 2 spell books from any discipline (Life, Death, Fire, Water, Earth, and Air). There are 10 spell books in each discipline which represent the 10 levels of spells possible in each realm. If you want to specialize in a particular area like Earth Magic, then choosing all Earth Magic books which get you access to the higher level spells quicker. If you want to diversify and dabble in several different areas, you can do that too.
There are other ways to earn spell books too. Some spell books are found as magic items in goodie huts, some are rewards for completing certain quests or battles, hiring certain champions may grant you an extra spell book, traits may grant you extra spell books, etc. Once you have the book, you can research spells of that level based on your arcane points (same as EWOM).
The spells are more interesting. Summon spells are both strategic and tactical meaning you can summon a wolf or ice giant in battle to fight for you and they disappear after the battle is complete. Magic is more chaotic. Lightning attacks may attack your own troops! Fireballs may keep your opponent's weapons burning creating a Flamesword or Flaming Arrows that cause fire damage when he attacks you next turn! Creeping Mud may slow your opponent's movement across the battlefield, but may give rise to an Earth Elemental to fight against you!
Sovereigns will start off with a few weak spells for direct damage, mobility, healing, and city enhancement.
Shards and intelligence multiply the effects of your spells.
Mana regeneration is easier in EFE. There are buildings, traits, items, places, etc., that help with mana regeneration. However, some spells are so costly that you must have significant shard ownership and intelligence to cast them.
What did I miss?