I've mentioned Name of the Wind briefly before but I want to post about it again because it's somehow widely known as a secret gem in the world of fantasy novels.
How is it both widely known and a secret? I don't really know.
I guess because all of the fantasy book nerds I've ever met (including myself) could rave on about it for hours, but it doesn't really get the critics/press/mass audiences that, say, Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings might bring in (yet).
Still, and take this from someone whose entire life revolves around Game of Thrones and who compares every aspect of her existence to it: Name of the Wind is the best written fantasy series I've ever read.
Now first, to be clear: note that I said best written and not best. George R. R. Martin tells a killer story. He's got his lore game on-lock and he'll keep you roped into his story by playing with and twisting around the best and the worst characters. Still, his imagery leaves something to be desired, unless he's talking about the food, which is by far the most described aspect of the novels.
It's somewhat justified because each book is around 1000 pages and they're trying to give you insight into an entire world.
On the other hand, Name of the Wind is more scoped (only one Point of View Character, for example). It's clever, and is written with equal parts excitement and comedy.
Rather than covering a lot of ground in terms of space, it covers a lot of ground in terms of time, and you get really acquainted with Kvothe as he develops in this endearing, charming way that makes you feel like his friends are your friends.
If you've read the Song of Ice and Fire series and are waiting for Winds of Winter to come out, or you're just a big fantasy nerd, this is definitely at the top of my list (although I've been so busy with schoolwork, I haven't even finished the 2nd book, Wise Man's Fear). There's also a spinoff called A Slow Regard for Silent Things, and Patrick Rothfuss is in the midst of writing the last of the trilogy.
If I can only say one thing about this series, it's this: When I was younger, I used to love teen fantasy novels until I picked up Stephen King. The Name of the Wind has got that same magic and splendour, without being cheesy or catering.