If you are expecting a hardcore fantasy epic, there is an Game of Thrones book sadly lacking. There is nothing Westeros and its Seven Kingdoms have to offer that you simply cannot discover in some other medieval setting, save for seasons that last years and the mysterious beings referred to as 'Others' lurking underneath the great Wall in the north. Instead, Martin offers a different kind of fantasy, one which focuses more on the human being aspect with the story. Take away the dragons and also the magic and you will see that the gritty human nature is still there, driving the key plot of political intrigue, conflicts, and ambition that compel someone to commit acts of murder, rape, or worse.
Still, it's got enough fantastical elements in the form of knights, dragons, kings and queens, princes and princesses, and also the whispers of magic working behind the scenes. It is War with the Roses in the 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 eat, even for probably the most avid of readers. Thankfully, Martin's talent is in producing words that provide enough information, but stops short of being tedious. While Martin is not going to win awards for beautiful prose, his writing keeps the reader engaged. The book never feels dragging and I appreciate more a writer that can keep my attention before end as opposed to individual who waxes lyrical.