I must admit, I disliked the book's beginning. I felt like George RR Martin, my genre idol now, just completely threw me in the deep end of the pool. He built this world and seemed to expect me to know it, throwing names and locations at me rentlessly. However, I pressed on.
At the end of the first chapter, I was shocked, and I couldn't stop reading. By the end of every chapter, I was hooked.
There were so many plot points I could see building up each chapter, and I couldn't keep up. When each bombshell fell, I remembered. He made coherent such an incredibly complex plot without losing me, which is something very difficult to do in writing.
The characters were entirely believable and memorable. Every single one. I found myself wanting to skip ahead chapters to get back to a character, but had to resist. *(SPOILER ALERT) I knew Ned was going to die from the start, however. He was too clean, and I would've been disappointed if he hadn't.
I can't wait to read the rest of this novel. In his interviews, George RR Martin says that the series adaptations follow the books perfectly, aside from adding scenes. This is highly unusual for motion pictures and TV shows to follow original writing so closely, but is only a testament to his creative talent.
His style and voice is fresh, and he knows things about the era that are not only true, but unknown. When I looked up certain things that he wrote, I was LEARNING! That is something, that few books do, that I absolutely love.
If you want to learn, go on an adventure, and become emotionally traumatized, pick up Game of Thrones.