This was a hard one to make a decision on, because there was a large section in the middle of the book that, all things considered, I really didn't like much, and yet it was all so well-done that it was still compulsively readable and I still cared about what was going on. All in all, I'd probably give it 3 and a half, if I could.
Basically, it's a very well-done fantasy, with a compelling main character, that takes 100 pages in the middle to have him living in a town and being a woodcarver. The section is very important to his development and to our understanding of a lot of the book's concepts--but in no ways that couldn't have been made clear by, say, 50 pages. That section is never badly written, per se, but I was definitely struck with a good many "when is something going to fucking HAPPEN?" moments.
That said, most everything else about The Magic of Recluce is quite good. The choice of first person is a strange one for epic fantasy, but it works very nicely and makes Lerris, the main character, feel like more than the typical young hero of this kind of book. He really feels like a teenager thrust into some bullshit that he wants no part of, and seeing his thought process makes that so much more palatable. A funny side effect of the point of view, is that he also really seems like a teenager because he's horny most of the time, which I feel isn't usually the case for our traditional young, male fantasy heroes.
Still, it's really the world and magic system that are the stars in this book (the plot's a little meandering), and they both manage to be very traditional (medieval world with crappy little towns, order and chaos are at odds and must be balanced) without feeling cliche, unoriginal, or uninteresting. Though the 100 pages of woodworking were not my cup of tea, it was still very readable largely because it's pretty satisfying to just sit in that world for awhile and watch it work. All in all, a very enjoyable book, and I certainly intend to continue the series someday.