This series is definitely the best thing I read in 2011.
Possibly the best thing I've read in a decade.
I have not been so enamored with either a single book or a series of books since I started reading Harry Potter over 10 years ago. Seriously, I cannot say enough amazing things about these books.When I rated them on my Goodreads account I gave them the following:
Game of Thrones - 5/5 stars
Clash of Kings - 5 stars
Storm of Swords - 5 stars
Feast for Crows - 4 stars
Dance with Dragons - 4 stars
To be completely honest, if I was simply reviewing the series against itself and not against other books, I would say that Game was a 4/5, Clash and Storm were 5/5, and Feast and Dance were 3.5/5...mainly because the first novel of course spends a lot of time setting the stage for this epic saga, while the second and third novels are just purely amazing. The first three books were all published within about two years of each other, starting in 1996, whereas the time period between Storm's publication and that of Feast was 5 years! And another six years passed after that, before Dance was published! Let's just say that I can only hope Martin sticks with his original book-every-two-years schedule for the sixth book in the series, because I don't know what I'll do with myself if I have to wait five or six years for another installment. Thank God I didn't discover these until recently (never thought I'd hear myself say that).
Seriously though...read this series. The books are long, yes, but Martin really does have a way with characters and descriptions that makes the lengths worth it. His creations - both the land of Westeros and the people - have so many dimensions that sometimes it's hard to keep up, but that makes it all the more amazing. Just do yourself a favor - don't make the mistake I did and try to look up something online to clarify, because there are a lot of ASOIAF fans out there and they don't seem to understand the term "spoiler alert".
Oh, and make sure to at least read the first book before you watch season 1 of the HBO show, which yes, is based on the novel and is also pretty freaking amazing.
I wish I felt comfortable giving more info on Martin's writing style and the books themselves, but anything else I would say would possibly give things away and I absolutely do NOT want to do that. I delved into these novels with practically no idea what they were about, other than that they were in the "fantasy" genre - thankfully they are not such crazy fantasy that I couldn't stand it; they're more realistic than one would expect and that is part of their draw. And going in not really knowing anything about them definitely made them that much more amazing. Trust me. So, I've said it a few times and I'll say it again...just read these books, okay? ;)