Simply an excellent and good-looking DAW for generic recording. Full demo version, with unlimited everything, is free (will just take longer and longer time to start), full version for personal, non-commercial use is like €60, and if you want to use it for commercial use (defined by your annual turn-over), it is just a little more expensive. Updated a number of times every year with new features and bugfixes. Available for Windows, Mac and Linux(!).
Excellent routing, excellent macro features, excellent shortcut remapping (allowing you to do complex tasks even triggered by MIDI events).
Contains a scripting engine that allows you to write your own VSTs for both audio and MIDI data in several different languages, even a quite simple one that anyone can learn by just modifying one of the huge amounts of pre-shipped scripts. I've actually even written a driver for a Novation LaunchControl XL, since its default reaper integration wasn't what I wanted it to be.
Updated a number of times every year with new features and bugfixes. You can even buy a print-out of the manual for a very cheap price, too.
Drawback: Not all DAW and keyboard controllers have dedicated settings for Reaper, but many newer ones do, and may even be shipped with overlays so you know exactly what each button does in the context of Reaper. I've heard some old-timers complain about it being hard to get into, but I - who haven't been working with other DAWs before and hence wasn't biased from the Big DAWs workflows - found it very easy to work with.
I think a newbie cannot go wrong with Reaper, and it'll never lack a feature you'll need as you grow with it.