I rather like the series. But it's a HUGE sprawling work which has two more books to go before it ends. If you're not a series reader to start with, you most certainly won't get closure of any sort from the first book and I wouldn't recommend even starting it.
Martin also has a technique which many readers find annoying. He takes a number of character viewpoints and scatters them through the work in place of chapters. I have actually found that it's a more coherent experience to follow a specific character's series of "chapters" rather than moving from one point of view to another in the order Martin uses.
Another annoyance for some is the overlap between and within books. At times chapters are only dealing with concurrent events. This was a problem I noticed in Jordan's works as well. One book might advance the total plot line by only a month or so because the Author was catching up on what was happening "back on the ranch".
What I like about the series is the characterization and methods by which some characters change and develop. He makes wonderful use of some typical fantasy machinery such as the dream vision, the strange psychic link between creatures and humans, undead monsters, dragons, impossible sounding curses and prophecies which are resolved, etc.
One problem I am worried about is whether Martin has too many irons in this particular fire and that the flame will die out before he gets to the end. I don't think it will, but we'll have to wait and see. In fairness, he has sold 18 million copies so far.
I agree with Issybird, always read the series first.
Last edited by fantasyfan; 08-26-2011 at 02:32 PM.