Urgh, I should've realised this thread was going to be full of spoilers. Now I know Stark's getting the axe... But anyways, on with my post.
A couple of weeks ago I finally snatched up a copy of the first book in the series, A Game of Thrones. I went into it completely blind: I haven't watched the TV series, nor have I read plot summaries or reviews of any kind. I read it like the writer wrote it, i.e. on and off, mostly during train rides, and it does a very good job of making the hours just fly by.
Oddly enough, I'm not at all bothered by the lack of classical fantasy elements, like magic and strange creatures. The intricate political intrigue and the sheer brutality of life in everyday Westeros is more than effective at drawing you in.
Sadly, the humour so far has more often than not fallen flat on its face. Sure enough, Martin tries to liven up all the bloodshed and scheming but I feel it's too much hit and miss.
Overall, I definitely see myself reading through the entire series. A good read and certainly worthy of its own shelf space in my personal library.