If you are expecting a hardcore fantasy epic, there is a Game of Thrones book sadly lacking. There is nothing Westeros and its Seven Kingdoms have to give you that you cannot get in every other medieval setting, save for seasons that last a number of the mysterious beings called the 'Others' lurking under the great Wall in the north. Instead, Martin offers a different kind of fantasy, the one that focuses read more about a person's aspect in the story. Take away the dragons and also the magic and you'll discover that the gritty man's instinct is still there, driving the main plot of political intrigue, conflicts, and ambition that compel one 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 in the Roses in a very fantasy world. For someone who enjoys reading both fantasy and historical fiction, Martin's masterpiece is a godsend.
I admit that all-around 800 pages is a lot of consume, even for probably the most avid of readers. Thankfully, Martin's talent is producing words offering enough information, but stops less than being tedious. While Martin won't win awards for beautiful prose, his writing keeps your reader engaged. The book never feels dragging and I appreciate more an author who can keep my attention prior to the end instead of individual who waxes lyrical.