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Having been largely ignorant of George R.R Martin and the "A Song of ice and fire" books, I asked for them a s a Christmas present. 6 weeks later I'm almost onto the 5th book(s), and can't believe that I have gone so long without coming across this amazing set of books. I am a big fan of reading fantasy and horror, I grew up reading Stephen King, I loved the Lord of the Rings books and have read most of Raymond E Feist's books. However none of these come even close to the attention to detail and absorbing characters that Martin and dreamed up. It has been a long time since I have cared (actually really cared) about characters in a book and wanted my favourite (you will have your own, there are many, many to choose from) to win out in the end. Be careful who you choose to like though, because Martin doesn't pull punches when it comes to killing off characters, where other writers would never consider killing off a character Martin seems to revel in it. After the first big death I thought it must have been a trick, and the character would come back later..... how wrong was I!! Be ready to be surprised with the twists and turns and who is with who, and definitely get used to flicking to the back of the book where it tells you who is in what place and where they come from etc because it can be a bit confusing when you first get into it to get to grips with the large cast of characters. Don't let that put you off though, because these books are awesome!!! buy them and tell your loved ones they may not see you for a while!
As an avid fantasy reader I read these books when I was about 18 (I'm 35 now and have read the series 3 times) and have yet to come across a fantasy series on a level with them. The story is epic, you follow heroes and villians across sea and land and are absolutely involved in their lives. The characters are real, no namby pamby heroes or unredeemable villians, and you will very quickly identify pasionately with them. My favourite characters seem to be the underdogs- Jon Snow, illegitimate son sent to guard The Wall and Daenerys Targaryen, the exiled princess owner of three dragons and young wife to a wild warlord. This series is not for the faint hearted!!! There is violence and lust described in graphic detail at times but it adds to the intensity of the series and I promise that you will not be able to read these books without an elevated pulse rate and time off work to calm down!!!!!!
I decided to buy this set after watching the 'Game of Thrones' series on TV. I am glad to say that for once the series has done the book justice. This could be in part that George R.R. Martin co-produced a few of the episodes, I just hope it continues. Anyway onto the subject.... The box set itself is nicely presented and good quality, along with the books you get a guide to the books but BEWARE it contains spoilers! There are some pretty obvious editorial errors throughout the books, this does not affect the storyline but I can see some people getting annoyed with this. The story line takes time to get into at first; this is due to the sheer size of the world and the variety of characters. Before you know it you have read 100 pages and its getting light outside ooops. The books follow three main storylines; 1. The power struggle full of deceit, revenge and murder between the Starks, Lannisters, Baratheons. These are soon joined by other houses each with their own agenda. Slow to begin with because of the number of members to each house but really accelerates toward the end of the first book. 2. The nights watch, a brotherhood sworn to protect Westeros from the wildling hoards and even mythical beasts. Made up of a range of criminals from pick pockets to murderers they reside in three castles along the 'Wall' which is a barrier of ice and rock 300 miles long and 800 feet tall. 3. Daenerys and her exploits through the free cities. Daenerys is one of the last of the Targaryen house, a house that was over thrown from the throne when she was young. She spends her life dodging assassins and desperately seeks an army to regain what is truly hers. As the story progresses new characters are born into the melee each adding to the storyline in exciting and sometimes gruesome ways. The story seems to twist and turn every minute with victory's one moment and disasters the next. This really keeps you on the edge of your seat especially when one of your favourite characters is involved. Definitely not for children or the squeamish, the sheer brutality of some of the chapters is a little disconcerting and the language is colourful throughout. There is also a large amount of sexual content which is described in great detail. I do not recommend this series if you do not like any of the above. This does not bother me in the slightest however and I have thoroughly enjoyed the series thus far. I cannot wait for the next few books to come out to carry on with this epic story.