This is an adult book suitable for older young adults. I will be reading the rest of the series as they are published (the second book in the series The Wise Man's Fear, was published in March, 2011--I haven't gotten to it yet). It is an "Epic" fantasy (medieval in tone--horses etc.) but also includes an engaging plot line and well developed characters.
The story begins in an inn near the edge of civilization with dark harbingers of impending evil/disaster. All is quite unclear at the beginning and readers who haven't learned to accept ambiguity will be frustrated. The main character, Kvothe, is persuaded to tell his life story to a traveling scribe. As the story unfolds we learn that Kvothe is much more than your "above average" innkeeper. But, it takes quite a while to uncover what/who he truly is.
There's a complicated romance, evil forces to send chills down your spine, great friendship, and "magic" school rivalries to keep any reader of fantasies happy. But, beware, it will absorb several weeks to work through the first book (896 pages!). I'm awarding 4 stars, I see at various book review websites that other reviewers are equally enthusiastic. It was awarded the "Quill" award.