I was browsing a website rating the top 10 fantasy series which placed song of fire and ice as no.1 ahead of lord of the rings (3) and harry potter(4). While I do not agree with some of the choices, this definately deserves its spot. Despite having dragons, mages and the undead, the influence on the story is very rare, especially in this 1st book. Instead you get a very realistic view on the ugly side of war and a number very real character who rarely do what you would expect. Warning: this is by no means a hollywood feelgood story!