I would actually give this book about 4 1/4 stars. It read at a feverish pace, as Martin takes you along for the ride at breakneck speed. Court intrigue, pitched battles and family honor dominate this tale in a mythical world that feels like what we dream medieval England would have been like in an alternate universe.
What I enjoyed was the changing perspectives, as the book follows the thoughts and lives of a few characters and through them we get a lens into the overall action. The plot moves along effortlessly even as the perspective shifts. Although the book could drag at times in lengthy descriptions of past events, and an overwhelming number of names, on the whole it’s easy to breeze past it.
Richly drawn characters that you want to root for – even the nastier ones. I look forward to picking up book 2 when i can, and checking out the HBO series.