While it didn't grab me from page one like the first book...hence four and a half stars instead of five...this is still the best fantasy series I've read in ages. Complex yet riveting with enough conflict to last a life time of reading. The fact that I've seen the TV series before reading this did not rob me of any pleasures. Unlike the first book, there were enough small changes between book 2 and season 2 to give me a few surprises. But a top-notch novel under the talented hands of someone like George R. R. Martin will always be a delight.