Rated of 5
A truly "epic" fantasy - but all the detail and complexity is worth it! The world Martin has created is fantastic, yet down to earth - an oxymoron that works. I loved the fact that everything doesn't resolve into some ribbon-wrapped package, where our "heroes" (or heroines) emerge unscathed from every perilous situation. People you really come to care about die in these books. Horrible things happen to good people. It seems to mirror real life in a way that, for example, Tolkien's world never did. (I mean, c'mon, against all the evil forces of Sauron, only Boromir dies?)
I can't wait for the 4th book!!