I’ve been a big fan of George R.R. Martin since I was introduced to the Wild Cards books in high school. I’ve been buying the Song of Ice and Fire books in hardcover because I want to read them right away, which is stupid, because the elapsed time in between book releases is way too long (in an interesting aside, while trying to figure out when the next one would be released, I went to Martin’s website and found out that because I bought the hardcover of the first book as soon as it came out, I have a collector’s item). I bluffed my way through the third book when it came out, but this time it had been long enough that I decided it was time to re-read the series in its entirety (partially because I was taking some time off). 2800 pages later, I’m bummed because he’s nowhere near done.
Re-reading the first one was eye-opening, though – it was fantastically well done, reminding me of what I love about good fantasy. I picked it up one Saturday afternoon and was most of the way through it by the end of the weekend, because I couldn’t put it down. The others became more and more of a slog. I’m mildly curious to see how he ends things, but if it takes another 1800 pages, I may not make it (and looking at the website, he says about A Dance with Dragons, “My hope is to bring the book in at around 1200 to 1300 pages.” And it’s not even the last one!).
My recommendation – wait until he finishes the entire series, and then read it. Or not. He may pull a Robert Jordan and never finish the series. But even if you decide to skip the series, read the first book – good stuff.