New but has tanning from age
Seriously: This is one of the great overlooked Fantasy/Sci-fi adventures of all time.
And to be honest, I hate even putting it into a genre category; it's just a damn good read.
After having read tons of sci-fi/fanasy in my youth, I had reached a point where I was embarrassed to read any more of the stuff; almost all of it was trite, Tolkien- or Arthur C. Clarke-derivative, and, frankly, just plain juvenile. It was as if being a Fantasy writer meant that your standard of writing quality didn't have to be as high as that of straight fiction, as long as your characters included a busty warrior girl and a talking dragon. Then I picked up Shadow of the Torturer...
With The New Sun series, Gene Wolfe did to Fantasy what William Gibson, Bruce Sterling and Neal Stephenson did to Sci-fi; raised the bar for the genre and told a story that adults could read without feeling embarrassed. This is an epic up there with Lord of the Rings and Dune. It's that good.
Be aware that the negative reviews here (and most of the luke-warm ones as well), miss the point entirely. The "made-up words" and "anachronisms" they mention, for example, make complete sense if you actually pay attention, and the people who call Gene Wolfe's writing "rambling and incoherent" simply aren't doing that; he's one of the smartest fiction writers alive today, just don't expect to be spoon-fed everything.
In short: This is actually literature (big word, I know...), not just another spin on the same recycled themes.
My only question is: why haven't more people read this?! (Not to compare the two, but it's criminal that a predictable teen sci-fi book like Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game has over 2000 reviews and this one has only 13)