Advantages: Complex characters, plot told from different viewpoints, realistic morality
The first book of the Song of Ice and Fire series is my first foray into George R.R. Martins world. Before I was introduced to his work, I was mainly a Robert Jordan fan. Upon reading A Game of Thrones, I realized that I was missing a huge part of the high fantasy genre.
From beginning to end, I was not sure whether or not I really liked the book. The plot was interesting enough. If its worth anything, I spent a couple of sleep-deprived nights reading A Game of Thrones! Now that I think back, I would say that the complexity of the characters and the plot as a whole is what made me hold back. Other fantasy novels usually define the line between good and evil very clearly. We have the good characters on one side and the evil powers on the other. George R.R. Martin manages to reflect reality by emphasizing the moral gray areas. Characters are not boxed into single moral categories. There is no clear protagonist. A good character is not totally likeable. An evil character seems to be a nice person on the inside. Good and bad is so maddeningly intertwined you cant help but see a reflection of the real world.
This book is not for the faint of heart. If you are looking for light reading, free of violence and sex, you might not want to read A Game of Thrones. There were times when I thought Martin was overdoing it a bit. I decided I would just chalk it up to artistic freedom.
Another frustrating aspect of the book is that as the story progresses, it seems that the good guys are getting killed off one by one. If that isnt enough to make you depressed I dont know what is. Of course this is only the first book in a yet uncompleted series -the story is yet to unfold.
The storyline is gripping. It leaves you craving for more. One good thing about discovering this series at this late date is that you wouldnt have to wait for the next few books to be written. A Feast for Crows, the fourth and latest book of the series, has been out since last year. Once you start with A Game of Thrones, you might want to pace yourself so as not to have to wait too long for the fifth book.