Like most I know, I discovered this series when the HBO television adaption aired on Sky in 2011 and was instantly gripped. Since then I have read all of the books back-to-back and wow... they are AMAZING!
I am NOT a typical fantasy fan... in fact the idea of goblins and wizards going off on some good vs evil quest of grand proportions does NOTHING for me. But this is no typical fantasy novel. The story spans several view-points from across the fictional lands of Westeros and beyond. It is a story where no characters are safe from harm (or death) at any time. Each of the character-arcs are expertly woven and plot developments continually keep you in the dark whilst simultaneously steadily moving toward what can be some really devastating conclusions.
What I love about these books is that every character serves their own purpose, has their own private agendas and are all capable of good and bad to one extent or another... they do what they must to survive, and through their actions I found myself able to relate to and bond with these fictional people, who I have loved, loathed, pitied and despised. These novels are extremely character-centric which means the reader really does become emotionally involved with its characters, and believe me I did!
As with a lot of other fantasy series' ASOIAF is set during a medival time-frame, a time defined by murder, chivalry, classes and war... a lot of war. However unlike other fantasy series' magic and mythical monsters do not play a major role, but instead is allowed to steadily build and spread from the beginning, with beings such as the mystical Others, skin changers, wights, dragons and more. This gives the series more of a realistic grounding, and is perfectly researched by Martin.
The bottom line is that I found this series truly addictive. It was difficult to put down at times and I really cannot recommend it enough. Give it a go... you will not regret it!