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on 21 April 2012
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!
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on 29 August 2012
For all Game of Thrones or Song of Ice and Fire fans this is the set to get. First of all great service from Amazon, it came a day earlier then expected, which was fantastic. The story, itself, is brilliant; there are a tone of great characters that develop superbly in a gigantic, fantasy medieval world called Westeros, ( a very authentic map of Westeros is actually included in this set if you buy it in papaerback and it's easily nice enough to be framed if you're a massive fan) the story lines are very exciting and there is always a good fear for the characters as Martin doesn't mind killing them.

However if you are new to the series I'd recommend you pick up the first in the series, A Game of Thrones, or watch some of the TV show before buying this to see if the series is definitely to your taste. A lot of people complained that there is too much sex, swearing, detail and that their favorite characters were killed off. If you don't like any of that in the your fiction then I wouldn't suggest the series to you. If, however, you love that sort of stuff in your fiction, like me, then I urge you to go read A Game of Thrones right now or try and catch the TV show.

The books themselves are a lot better quality then the previous paperbacks. Before I bought this set I already owned all of the books but they were very used, small fat things with tiny print and the hardback of the fifth title was very, very heavy and after a while a nuisance to hold, if you have kindle those issues are not a problem but a lot of people have been annoyed with the kindle edition so I wouldn't recommend that unless the kindle edition is significantly cheaper. These paperbacks are taller, slimmer and the print is easier on the eye then older editions.

Also the fact that the newest book in the saga, A Dance with Dragons, is split into two parts; Dreams and Dust and After the Feast is an advantage for the majority of Ice and Fire fans that didn't like A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons as much as the first three. The latest two books in the series were not as well liked because Martin put half the characters in the fourth book and the other half in the fifth book and they both carried on directly after the third book in the series. The advantage about the fifth book being split is that you can read book 4 and 5 part 1 together so you won't go to long without half the characters and come Part 2 After the Feast all the characters are back together in the same book again.

Lastly some readers were irritated at the the box, mines okay, but it's just okay, nothing special. Many faults were that some boxes had split and a few customers experienced difficulty putting the books back into the box, honestly I wouldn't worry about it too much because Martin plans to release at least two more books in this series so the box isn't vital. On the whole, though, this set is outstanding, I would definitely recommend this box set to you if you're a fan of the books and/or the TV show unless you can get them cheaper separately and aren't worried about the map. Thank you for reading my review, hope it was helpful.
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on 29 October 2015
This is a review of the new leather cloth editions, not the content of the books which would receive 5 stars.

I dont know why they removed the "conveniently sized, hand-holdable" line from the UK description but i think it was a bit deceptive of them. In the pic you imagine these being paperback size at least, unless you look at the dimensions, but these are pretty much pocket books but a lot chunkier than usual ones so they feel like they could fall apart easily. I would have preferred thicker, sturdier covers with a smoother leather effect but for the price i paid i cant really complain. The colours are also a bit off in the picture but again thats not really a big deal.
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on 18 June 2014
Amazon - WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!!!

The individual purchases of ASOIAF have X-Ray enabled - Of all the books ion Kindle this is a series of books that ABSOLUTELY needs X-Ray to keep track of all the very many characters and locations in these books.

But because you purchase 5 books in one order - nope no Xray an incredible disappointment.

Also the Books all come out as One book with a few thousand pages and NOT as 5 distinct books, or even in Kindle terms 10 Kindle books.

Bizarre and bemusing that they dropped the ball here, this of all books would really benefit from an e-book functionality and Amazon blew it.

Great book, sucky implementation - just plain lazy Amazon - you get a D- here - must do better.

******* BETTER SOLUTION found
Buy all seven Kindle books, yes seven - Book 3 and Book 5 are sold as two Kindle Books each, go figure - ALL 7 can be purchased for £13.58 over HALF price and you get all the books as individual books AND you get XRAY - So for half price you get a much better ebook - go figure Amazon.
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on 7 June 2012
These novels are amazing, I cannot recommend them enough. Well thought out and detailed characters, with compelling story arcs, the pace is not rushed nor overly long. If you like the TV series, these books are much more vivid and detailed.

The only drawbacks are with the kindle version which is expensive and of poor quality.

As well as being expensive (under the agency model used by Amazon to allow publishers to set prices, which is currently under investigation as to being anti competitve) the Kindle version is poorly structured (all books are in a single file and the left/right navigation jumps to the start of each book rather than each chapter) and there are typographical errors.

Often you are left wondering what a word like "ndes" means when in context it should have clearly been "rides". I had hoped this was an isolated instance but have counted at least three in the first third of the second book. (I purchased the five book kindle version after reading the first in paperback)

If we are paying a premium price for a product that costs virtually nothing to distribute, they could at least ensure that the quality was the same as their printed material.

Love the books (so far), love my Kindle, disappointed with this Kindle version.
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on 28 October 2015
Oh, now this is an odd one. First impression: The books are smaller than a paperback or a hardback - more like a Kindle in height. They are in a presentation box, which is all very nice for a series that is unfinished. The covers are soft and bendable, yet covered in a faux-leather covering that make them like a thick version of a pocket bible. Presumably you could take a copy with you if you were travelling. The covering is nice, but be warned, they can dent around the edges easily, as my copy upon arrival showed.

The content of the books are exactly as you would expect, albeit in smaller print. It is the full text but no additional extras.

So, in summary, it's a nice enough set, though at $70/£50 it is a lot of money for an incomplete set. Transportable but perhaps too expensive to transport in your pocket. For the Game of Thrones fan of the books who has everything else, perhaps.
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on 24 April 2012
I am throughly hooked on the series on Sky.

So I treated myself. I can't put my Kindle down. Everything gets left on hold whilst I hiss & boo at Joffrey, want to slap Sansa silly, urge on Robb, Catelyn and Daenerys.
Of course, now that I have watched Peter Dinklage's skilful acting as Tyrion Lannister, I can only hear his voice when I read about the exploits Tyrion gets up to.

Definitely, definitely, get this book. Biggest issue is, dare you read ahead of the tv series or try to hold back?
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on 7 September 2012
This isn't going to be a popular review with the diehard fans, but it's an honest one and I hope it may be of some use to those who haven't yet got into this series.

We bought this boxset on the understanding that it was "complete", e.g. the series comes to some kind of conclusion. It isn't complete in any sense, and doesn't even attempt to come to any form of conclusion (so why issue a boxset?!).

I also bought it under the impression that (having read the first three books before buying it) George R.R. Martin was an accomplished author who could keep you gripped longterm. He isn't, at least not in my case (or my partner's).

I was brought the first book as a present by my stepson last year. It was one of the best things I've read in a very long time and had me engrossed from start to finish, I read the lot in three nights, and it's not a lightweight volume. I was so impressed I rushed out and brought the second, not so great, but still a good read. Got a bit worried when I read the proposed "trilogy" had billowed out into six volumes and that the author had taken a couple of decades to write that much, but when the characters and plot were so good who cares? The longer the epic the better, right?

By the time I was half way through the second volume my partner was reading the first and she was also hooked - "such a great writer" we said to each other, a fantasy based (loosely) on the Wars of the Roses and Shakespeare's historical plays, "so gripping, can't wait to find out what comes next". My partner's favourite character was Arya, mine was Jon, but so many great characters - who can't like Tyrion? We've never both liked a book so much.

Feeling a little jaded with the second book I pressed on to the third and was pleased to find it actually started to pick up again - there it goes, you feel, Mr Martin has got into his stride again, now we're moving! Except it's the last of the good stuff - what you don't realise at that point is that from here on it's virtually all downhill into a never ending mire of: maim and disfigure old character, kill off old character, insert random new character much like the old character, but rather less charming, insert random sex scene and/or Elizabethan feast complete with recipes and/or boringly repetitive "humourous" song and/or boring and repetitive recitation of who killed who in some battle (not described), randomly maim and disfigure new character (Mr Martin likes gruesome facial scars nearly as much as he likes incest and Elizabethan food it would seem), kill off new character, bring back old character in some completely pathetic, predictable and implausible way, maim and disfigure old/new character.... and so on and on and on...

By the time you get round to finishing the last book in the boxset (book seven? it feels more like book 110), if you're anything like me, you just don't care any more, it's all so samey, so repetitive, so... dull! I've read them all up to the end of this boxset and Mr Martin claims he's going to wrap the series up in two more books, or maybe a couple more? But, you know what, I really don't care, the "cliffhanger" endings are getting tired and I really, really don't like ANY of the characters any more. Sad ending to something which started so promisingly.

My partner gave up at around the same time I did, although she was only on the fifth book (?) - the one that is almost entirely about new characters and doesn't really have any connection with the rest of the series until you're about halfway though and then you realise it's not going to contain ANYTHING at all about your favourite characters anyway! The strange thing is she didn't know I was fed up with the books until we discussed it one evening and both found out we felt exactly the same about them.

End result is this boxset is going to the car boot sale and we won't be buying any more (or watching any more of the series on SKY - which is incidentally not bad - it's got a great cast of actors, but does play around with the plot a bit - changing the sexuality of main characters and throwing in lots of gratituous sex scenes, for example).

IF you want to read about late Medieval skullduggery of the kind written about by Mr Martin in his more lucid and entertaining moments I'd recommend any of the many fantastic historical books available about the Wars of the Roses (York and Lancaster = Stark and Lannister, not too subtle really). IF you prefer a moving and inspiring fictionalised account of the same events look to Shakespeare. IF you want a cook book of Elizabethan recipes buy one, there are plenty. IF you want good fantasy fiction with perfidious nobles, bloody battles, Dragons and/or Undead there are plenty of better (more disciplined) writers of such out there (you could try the Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien, for example), and IF you want erotic fiction (porn?) involing siblings and/or older men and young girls there are better sources for those too - I'm sure!

In a nutshell if you're the kind of person who thinks neverending Soap Operas with the same old plot repeated over, and over, but with the odd new character and bit of sleaze, all wrapped up in a rather weak (at the end) "Medieval" fantasy you'll probably love this series and treasure it for ever. On the other hand if you're not that kind of person you probably won't want to bother.
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on 27 August 2012
I should start by saying that I purchased these books after seeing the superb show Game of Thrones (named from book one) on TV. This is not normally something I would recommend, because personally think it's better to read the source material first. That said, I was exceptionally glad I took the plunge to buy the books, because it is one of the most thematically rich, rewarding, exhilarating and impossible to put down series in the "fantasy" genre.

I should say that for those of you who are coming to A Song of Ice and Fire having seen the TV show, it makes the show look even more impressive, and yet there is a lot of additional material present in the book that makes it hugely rewarding. The writing style is wonderful. Descriptive but fluid, it has a rawness to it that makes you love and loath characters in equal measure. The style of writing has an adult feel to it, both in the graphic nature of violence and the sexual relationships of the characters. The scale of the book is huge, with most locations set within the vast continent of Westeros, which feels as big if not bigger than Tolkien's Middle Earth.

Criticisms, there aren't many. I found at the outset there are a lot of names and this can make it seem a little bewildering at first. It doesn't take long for that to pass though. The main "criticism", comes in the form of the more sexual side to the books. Within the first 100 pages of the first book Game of Thrones you encounter incest, and the marriage/sexual act of one of the main characters, Daenerys Targaryen, who is 13, with her husband. In the TV show, they have made the characters older to overcome the obvious issues, however this may make some readers uncomfortable. I should note that rarely is this stuff described very graphically or for prolonged periods of prose, and thus only makes up a tiny proportion of the overall story. That said, I, like any sane person am not condoning this, I am just trying to present it as portrayed within the books. A final note, although not strictly a criticism, Martin has not finished the whole body of work yet, so by the end of the seven volumes you will need to wait longer for the conclusion to the story.

Overall, I cannot recommend this highly enough. The quality of the writing is superb, the story is as complex as it is engrossing and George Martin cannot be praised enough for this stunning (but unfinished) body of work. As discussed, there are recurring aspects that some readers may find distasteful. Getting all seven volumes at once is certainly the best value for money, and when you get to the end of one book, you will be glad the next one is there waiting for you. For fans of the TV show, reading the source material from which it is derived will give you added appreciation for what they achieved for the show (albeit some details are different), and an appreciation for the vast and complex web of characters and stunning locations George Martin has constructed.
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on 4 June 2012
1. The Series, Itself - FANTASTIC
Martin writes a gritty fantasy epic, that truly IS epic. Raw, dark, honest, but full of liars, this series will shatter any notion you have that fantasy is for kids, or that adults cannot have their pleasures. Martin does not shy away from butchering his characters, yes even the main ones, and this lends a sense of urgency and real alarm to the series. Find yourself liking one of his characters? Watch it, that character could be next. Meanwhile, the dishonorable and "evil" in the series really seem to get away with their acts. While the series is not without the comeuppance of evil, get used to darkness thriving, as Martin does not pull his punches. There's a reason HBO has been successful, and a large portion of that reason is the source material.

2. The Kindle Edition - JUST FINE!
I've seen complaints about the Kindle edition being horrible, from the formatting to the fact that it's 4 books squished into one. I have seen nothing that convinces me that the Kindle edition is anything less than perfect. Yes, there are 4 books. On the Android versions of the Kindle app, there is nothing to distinguish the books on the progress meter. I am 31% of the way through the series, and I don't know when this book ends and the next begins. On the Kindle, itself, however, there are marks where each book ends and the next begins, so you can more easily see where you are in the 4-book series. However, there is a total Table of Contents (ToC) just after the cover of the Kindle book, so you can quickly jump to the beginning of any of the books.

The formatting, also, receives no complaints from me. I don't see how there could really be a problem...there are words, which are strung together to form sentences, which are likewise strung together to make paragraphs....what's the problem? New chapters start on a new "page".

And with the kindle edition, you can bookmark and highlight the book to your heart's content. Honestly, it really is the best of all worlds.

That being said, the paperback series is currently being sold for less than the Kindle version of the same product. This is seriously annoying, as the Kindle edition does not have the overhead of paper, the printing process, etc...This is more a complaint about the pricing of kindle books by publishers than a complaint about this particular book, however.

Verdict: Awesome series, in an awesome format. I love not having to carry around multiple books when I'm getting close to finishing one. I also love being able to read on multiple devices, and having the latest page read sync to each device. All standard features of a Kindle book!
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