This is the first book in one of the best epic fantasy series around, A Song of Ice and Fire. It has also recently been adapted into the first season of an equally epic TV series, Game of Thrones, which I highly recommend watching if you haven't already. And if you're coming to the book series as a fan of the TV show, then the books will give you plenty of additional details and background to feast on.The characters and places that George R R Martin introduces us to in this book are richly and lovingly rendered in believable detail. The world of the books is a dark and often brutal one; good things do not necessarily come to good people simply because they are good, and the game of thrones of the title is a bloody one where every action has its consequences. The characters are rarely black and white, good and evil; what they are is people, with all the flaws and failings that real people have. They are also fascinating, interesting people, and you care about what happens to them. If you like your fantasy dark, gritty, political, epic and on occasions downright grim - and, obviously, I do - then I cannot recommend these books highly enough.