First in the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
I read an "epic fantasy" once before. It took me four days to read (gasp! Four days?), and since I'm used to reading books in one day, it was a frustrating experience. I did really enjoy the style of writing, the story, politics, characters, religions, and was happy with how it ended, but vowed NEVER to do it again. :-)
Perhaps it was meeting Brandon Sanderson at the LTUE conference that made me want to attempt the reading of an epic fantasy again, but this time I was prepared. I'm both glad I did it, and glad I chose Mistborn.
No description of mine could do this story justice, but I'm going to attempt it anyway. :-) Mistborn is the story of a world completely under the control of an immortal man called the Lord Ruler. He's cruel, and most of his people are slaves. Kelsier - a former slave who escaped - is a Mistborn (an uber magical, cool person) and he helps a street urchin named Vin (girl), learn the ways of Allomancers (other magical people) as he plots to throw off the Lord Ruler. Lots of excitement ensues. :-)
Brandon handles the ups and downs and climaxes perfectly. I was pleased with the character development and the wonderful history we as readers delve into. The thing I'd heard most about this series was how well-developed the magic system is, and I wasn't disappointed. I was left in awe at how quickly Vin learned the ropes, and I cheered her on as she learned both how to be a court woman, and how to perfect her powers. I'm now halfway through the second book in the series, The Well of Ascension, and am really enjoying it so far.
I'd recommend Mistborn to any mature reader. (Little to no language, no sex, some violence. It's an adult's book.)