Take a look at the cover on this book before you decide to invest seven hours of your life in this book. Unlike many book covers, this one is a pretty good representation of the story. Yes, there is a big, brawny man on this cover, but, no, he is not passionately yet gently kissing anyone here. This big, brawny man is sitting on a throne and the throne is not a golden throne embedded with diamonds and other jewels. This throne is made of hundreds of well-worn swords that have been welded together. Are you getting the idea yet? Do you have a glimmer of what this story is about?The man is staring at the floor, and he is not smiling. The big, brawny man is angry and bitter, and he is scheming, he is planning, he is plotting.A black crow sits beside the man on the throne. He is not smiling either.Before you shudder and throw the book back into the display at WalMart that advertises both the book and the HBO original series made from the book, let me share one more thing with you: Though it would be difficult for me to imagine a book that would lie farther from my Reading Comfort Zone, I must also tell you that I was surprised, no, shocked to discover that I loved this book. I hated most of the characters, but they seemed oddly, startlingly realistic. The plot involves lots of battle scenes and brutality and cruelty and treachery, all of which I usually loathe, but which, here, felt deeply compelling.I therefore find myself in the peculiar situation of recommending highly a book which should have, and did in fact, repel me. Odd.