I've been a Blender fan for a very long time. But it has a unique interface that is difficult to learn, a fact that has held a lot of people back.
However; Blender is VERY capable software that can generate really serious animation. It's also Free, in every sense, though it started out closely held.
Now there is a book, albeit an expensive one, that will get you up to speed in Blender. The profits from the book go to the Blender people, too, so I think it is worth the price. So much so that I just ordered one based on this review.