If you are expecting a hardcore fantasy epic, there is a Game of Thrones book sadly lacking. There is nothing Westeros as well as Seven Kingdoms have to give which you cannot discover in any other medieval setting, save for seasons that last a number of the mysterious beings called the 'Others' lurking beneath the great Wall within the north. Instead, Martin supplies a different kind of fantasy, one that focuses more on the human aspect with the story. Take away the dragons and the magic and you may find that the gritty human nature continues, driving the primary plot of political intrigue, conflicts, and ambition that compel one 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, and the whispers of magic working behind the scenes. It is War with the Roses in a very fantasy world. For someone who enjoys reading both fantasy and historical fiction, Martin's masterpiece can be a godsend.
I admit that all-around 800 pages can be a lot of take in, even for one of the most avid of readers. Thankfully, Martin's talent is at producing words that provide enough information, but stops in short supply of being tedious. While Martin won't win awards for beautiful prose, his writing keeps people engaged. The book never feels dragging and I appreciate more a writer that can keep my attention until the end as opposed to one who waxes lyrical.