As much a political thriller as a high fantasy piece, A Game of Thrones is as very obvious first step in a series. Its narrative does a fantastic job interweaving between the plotlines of nearly a dozen characters whilst being able to avoid confusion on the reader’s part.
Each character is a fully fleshed out individual, with full detail on their back story, their place in history and their interactions with other characters. Their actions and moral choices are clear, and the dialogue between characters suits them perfectly. With such a breadth of character archetypes and personalities, it is easy to hate and like characters, and there are many of which the reader can find some way to relate to.
As for the world itself, Martin has created a fantasy realm of incredible scale and scope, the likes of which I haven’t read since The Lord of the Rings. With a populated world full of almost clichéd fantasy locations, Martin is able to bring villages and cities to life with vivid descriptions and fantastic snapshots of what life is really like in them.
One thing A Game of Thrones as a novel suffers from though, is that because it is merely part of a much larger story, very few plot threads are resolved by the end, instead leaving you to read on into A Clash of Kings and beyond to finish the story. My preferred way of reading the book is as part of a whole. Like Lord of the Rings before it, A Game of Thrones is not meant to be a book you can read, put down and be satisfied by, it requires you continue the story onwards.
For myself, this is a high note of the fantasy genre, and one I will almost certainly read again. It just means I’ll have to read the others too.