The characters were well developed (loved or hated) and the storylines were interesting. The over-repetitious descriptions of clothing and food were annoying. The descriptions of sex and rape were unnecessarily too detailed. The overall cruelty, darkness and hopelessness of the book is what turned me off to get the next volume. I heard the other books in the series are no lighter...
This first installment in the Game of Thrones series is wonderful! Once you start, you can't stop. One thing I must point out is that there are MANY characters in these books and the story is told from many different characters' points of view, so it is imperative that you pay attention to them all. Some characters may not have a lot of information given about them, but because this series is SO big and each book is quite long, you will find after the initial character development, these people coming back in the story . The way George R.R. Martin writes, you will come to love and sympathize with some, characters and truly despise others. In my opinion, that is great writting.
The ONLY reason I did not give 4 stars in the "overall" category, is because I feel like there are several other narrators that would have consistently read well throughout the book and overall given a much better performance.
Other than that, iI woukd have given 5 stars for this imaginative work of literary art!