It's been a while since I read a book which was so much vamped up in the popular media. Well, perhaps the book wasn't, but the story was, thanks to the television series.
Nevertheless, in his first book of the Ice and Fire series, Martin completely and utterly lived up to the high expectations I had set. Wow, what a great book.
Wonderful story, very quick pace, intense characters and interesting way of telling the story, quickly shifting from POV in each chapter. He's not afraid to let good things happen to bad people and bad things to good people.
I mean, main and really important characters even get to die in his story. I find this an incredibly courageous thing to do as an author.
Bottom line: an amazing story and a great book. I already started in A Clash of Kings. :-)