So because of aforementioned business it has taken me much longer to finish A Game of Thrones than anticipated. I feel like I don't have too much to say about the book because I found it almost identical to the HBO series which I have seen previously. This was a massive drawback while reading for me ... some scenes in the series were word for word from the book and so while reading, I felt like I was watching the same thing again. This had an innate ability to kill any suspense or surprises, which I guess is actually something to be thankful for because it means the series was made extremely well and follows the books closely.
Regardless, I really loved the book (and know I would have even more if I hadn't seen the series). The story, history and politics are incredibly well thought and realistic (other than perhaps how members of each great house are walking stereotypes, both physically and in terms of personality). I also really love how, much like Stephen Deas, Martin isn't afraid to lop the head off of characters you thought were so vital, they would clearly be around until the end. Sorry, you lose, life ruined. It keeps it edgy and unpredictable but is also a lot more life-like ... the baddies can't always lose!
The choice of and constant switch between character POVs was also an excellent move - it kept everything fresh and meant that Martin could make the decision to skip out on things that could be lengthy and repetitive. Characters like Sansa who had a very skewed perception of events around her were a highlight - in fact I think each character had a very distinct feel to their story telling. At the conclusion of the novel I felt that almost every character had a huge amount of potential - the Stark children in particular. I am very interested to see how the younger ones grow over the series and what part they have to play.
I cannot wait to start on A Clash of Kings and finally overtake where I have seen up to in the HBO series, although there will be a few new releases coming up such as Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore that I know will be interrupting my Song of Ice and Fire journey.