I am probably I bit young to read this book-I would suggest ages 15+, which was probably why I found it a bit hard to follow. It is the mark of a good writer when they making you feel and deep hatred for the villains, like Viserys and Joffrey, and cry for days after the death of a protagonist, like Lady or Ned.
But a good writer must also make you connect with the characters, care for them, love them. Martin (in my opinion) didn't do as well in this, by building Game of Thrones to have a reputation where everyone dies. This stops people connecting with the characters, and it also scares people off reading it in the first place.
I found the way he describes fights rather annoying, and the History of Westros is VERY unclear. But overall, a good read, although I'm not sure if I'll read it again. I am currently watching the TV series and it's quite good, and seems to stick to the book quite well *cough* *cough* Peter Jackson.
Also, I think he's a bit out of whack with the ages of the Stark children.
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