If you are expecting a hardcore fantasy epic, there is an Game of Thrones book sadly lacking. There is nothing Westeros and its particular Seven Kingdoms have to give that you cannot find in every other medieval setting, save for seasons that last a few years the mysterious beings referred to as 'Others' lurking under the great Wall within the north. Instead, Martin comes with a different kind of fantasy, one which focuses more on the human aspect in the story. Take away the dragons as well as the magic and you'll find that the gritty man's instinct remains, driving the primary plot of political intrigue, conflicts, and ambition that compel someone to commit acts of murder, rape, or worse.
Still, it has enough fantastical elements within the form of knights, dragons, kings and queens, princes and princesses, as well as the whispers of magic working behind the scenes. It is War in the Roses in a fantasy world. For someone who enjoys reading both fantasy and historical fiction, Martin's masterpiece is often a godsend.
I admit that near 800 pages is often a lot of ingest, even for probably the most avid of readers. Thankfully, Martin's talent is within producing words that supply enough information, but stops lacking being tedious. While Martin won't win awards for beautiful prose, his writing keeps the reader engaged. The book never feels dragging and I appreciate more a writer who can keep my attention until the end as opposed to one that waxes lyrical.