Okay, so I've finally finished it. A Game of Thrones, the first of the Song of Ice and Fire series, is quite an enjoyable read after the first 150 pages or so are done. That time is spent bringing out every stock character and cliché relationship in the fantasy universe. Once he's done with introductions, however, George R.R. Martin does a good job of moving and manipulating the players. It's a sweeping tale, with more families, houses, kingdoms, banners, etc than I could possibly remember. That said, it's a gripping drama that I'm glad to have read.
If only the ending were a true ending. Fortunately for types who appreciate this kind of thing fully (and unfortunately for people like me who only dabble in genre fiction), this is merely a prelude to at least three more books. He's only finished two more after A Game of Thrones, and there are apparently going to be several more of these 900-page monsters before it's finished.
Anyway, I'm lending it to my friend Laura, but after that it's up for grabs. Anyone have a paperback they want to trade for it?