I've read reviews on NPR of these books and their critic calls George R.R. Martin the Tolkien of our times. I agree wholeheartedly with this assessment. Fantasy books can be drool, because there are only so many ways that you can tell the same story. Martin's books, on the other hand, are exciting and complex with a cast of characters that one becomes attached to very quickly. The narrator isn't the best, but I've listened to three of these books on tape so far, and I've gotten used to his voice. Book 3 is my favorite so far. Things are getting really exciting and the dramatic irony has intensified as characters cross each others' paths unknowingly. I am anxious to read the fourth and fifth books!!