It's an accepted fact by everyone that knows me that I love to read. I've never really reviewed books and there's no real answer as to why, and so here I am, although I am cheating, this particular book can't be reviewed properly without giving away many spoilers for the series, and so it's just going to be a general review on the series itself. (I know people like spoilers, and there are sites out there specifically for that, but I don't like them so I can't see them appearing on here).
George R.R.Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series has recently hit the big time as far as fantasy books go, with the first book being turned into a TV show (Sky only, I have yet to watch it) named after the first title, A Game of Thrones, the second series (based on the second novel) is currently being aired. I'm half hoping this means that we'll get the next books faster as Martin is well known for taking his time with this series.
I can't recommend the books enough, in fact I had an immense surge of happiness recently when a friend succumbed to my nagging and purchased A Game of Thrones for her Kindle, only to find she then purchased each book as she finished the last until she overtook me. Although I have to tut and say that the reason she finally read it after downloading it a month before, was due to watching the TV show.
Westeros, where the book begins, is a country torn apart by greed for the throne, with the death of King Robert Baretheon, a fight for the crown begins, there's the Queen and her family, the Lannisters, and the Starks of Winterfell, throw in the late King's brothers and... boom! There are some terrible bad guys and women that nightmares are made of, and some awe inspiring heroes of both sexes, but I think the best part is that I can never seem to decided which side I am actually on. I'd like the goodies to win, of course, but each character is so well written, and strong that I actually rather love some of them, flaws and all. I also despise some of them, but they are multi-faceted which is exciting to read.
I never thought I would say that I find myself unable to chose whether a small tomboyish girl, a lonely bastard-born boy, or a dwarf is my favourite. However Tyrion, Jon Snow, and Arya are all right up there. I love that there are strong female characters, I kinda wish there were some more though. Daenerys Targaryen is in a class of her own, an inspiring, determined girl who bloomed into womanhood before my very eyes as I've read each book.
If I had to compare Martin to another fantasy author, of course it would be Tolkien, however in my opinion Martin's writing style is obviously more modern, and thus less flowery and easier to read but still as detailed and beautiful. They both absolutely have their places, but people who found Tolkien hard going, should find this easier. These are not quick reads, the books get bigger, and two of them are two-parters, nor is the series complete, the waits for the next book can be horrifically long, and yet I will still be patient once I've finished these two books that make up A Dance of Dragons.
Martin was my favourite author I discovered last year, and I read a lot by new to me authors last year! If you like fantasy, aren't scared by huge books, then buy A Game of Thrones now... you can thank me when you resurface.