If you are expecting a hardcore fantasy epic, there is the Game of Thrones book sadly lacking. There is nothing Westeros and its Seven Kingdoms are offering that you just cannot get in another medieval setting, save for seasons that last many the mysterious beings referred to as the 'Others' lurking under the great Wall inside the north. Instead, Martin offers a different kind of fantasy, one that focuses on a person's aspect from the story. Take away the dragons and also the magic and you'll discover that the gritty man's instinct remains, driving the main plot of political intrigue, conflicts, and ambition that compel someone to commit acts of murder, rape, or worse.
Still, it's enough fantastical elements inside the form of knights, dragons, kings and queens, princes and princesses, and also the whispers of magic working behind the scenes. It is War from the Roses in a fantasy world. For someone who enjoys reading both fantasy and historical fiction, Martin's masterpiece is really a godsend.
I admit that near to 800 pages is really a lot of eat, even for one of the most avid of readers. Thankfully, Martin's talent is at producing words that offer enough information, but stops less than being tedious. While Martin will not win awards for beautiful prose, his writing keeps the various readers engaged. The book never feels dragging and I appreciate more an author that can keep my attention prior to the end in lieu of person who waxes lyrical.