I'll hold my hands up, I read this book, as plenty of others have, on the back of enjoying the first season of the HBO adaptation. What really strikes you about the story is the stunning level of detail that Martin has built into the fantasy kingdom of Westeros. Combining old-fashioned kings and swordplay with dragons and mysterious evil, similarities with the Lord of the Rings series may appear obvious but at no time during the book did I ever find myself finding anything that made me think of Mordor, Aragon or hobbits. Told through the eyes of six characters, the story is engrossing and for those not familiar with the TV series will provide enough shock and intrigue aplenty. The way Martin kills off seemingly major characters suggests the story has plenty more unfolding to do in the next few books.