Glad to see fellow ASoIaF fans here on LGP.
And to those who hasn's read the series: Don't shy away because it's fantasy. It's a delicious mix of political intrigue, war, blood and gore, awesome dialogue and language (modern language, cursing and so on), brilliantly evil and entertaining characters that one really gets to know, and so on. It's raw, brutal, fun and pretty much everything. Martin's kind of challenging too, giving details that gives clues about some other minor details like a 1000 pages later. I discovered things I hadn't before the third time I re-read the books. He makes some things come together in beautifully skilled ways. Things that were there in front of your face all along without you noticing it and then blam! Some things are turned upside down just like that, but not in a bad way.
I don't know anyone who's started the books that hasn't liked them and read them quickly.
Agree the first one's great, the second part better than the first and then the third even better than the second. Fourth book is very good but might've stretched out too far from some of the main characters and happenings.
Check out http://www.georgerrmartin.com/
and click "Not A Blog" for Martin's own words about the casting of the HBO series and on other things related to ASoIaF. He's been kind of in the open about the fifth book lately, mentioning he's on page 1200 something with finished material and just need another 200 or so. It is weird though how long it's taken. There have been hints of it being nearly finished since 07