“When you play a game of thrones you win or you die.” This review will be pretty short (by my standards, anyway) because ... 1) I've been on a reviewing hiatus for a while, because I've been too lazy/busy to review things and now my to-review pile is getting overwhelming, and 2) honestly I don't have much to complain about.Wait what, Brigid doesn't have much to complain about?Yes I know, so shocking!Anyway, everyone and their dog was recommending this book to me for the last couple of years. And well, I was curious because a lot of my friends were reading it (or watching the TV show). But I was also pretty reluctant because I'm not the biggest fan of epic fantasy. I like a little of it every once in a while, but ... usually I tend to find really high-fantasy books pretty boring and disappointing. So even with all the positive things I was hearing about this series, I was a little wary––especially because of the length of all the books. Time to read Game of Thrones! ... Oh, shit.But, I finally found a copy at a thrift store for like $3 so I was like, "You know what? Why not. I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna read this."So I did.I got pretty wrapped up in it right away. What this book succeeded in doing (for me, anyway) where so many other epic fantasy books have failed, is that a) the world is really cool without the author filling the pages with heavy info dumps, and b) the characters are actually interesting.For a book that was like 800 pages, I was impressed that it didn't really slow down. There were occasional patches where it got a little dull/confusing, but for the most part I found it to be quite fast-paced and compelling. And I think this is because it does a good job of constantly rotating the story from one character to another. Which brings me to my next point ...A book with so many characters––especially ones that are important ones––could easily get very messy and hard to follow. And yeah, I did have some trouble with telling all the minor characters apart from each other. (Good thing there's that huge-ass glossary at the back of the book.) But I found all the main characters to be quite easy to distinguish from each other, and I felt that each of them was very well-developed and complex.This is also one of those books where a lot of the characters are not really "good" people and yet you're able to enjoy them a lot as characters despite their personal flaws. For the most part there aren't really "good" and "bad" characters; I think most of the characters have complicated personalities, their "good" moments and their mistakes. That said, Joffrey is just a horrible person and as Jon put it, "truly a little shit." … But part of me still loves to hate him. It takes a lot for me to feel like I literally want to reach into the book and punch a character in the face. I'm reading the second book right now! (It's been taking me like two months but I will finish it eventually … I just keep getting distracted by other things.) Anyway, to sum it up: I'm not typically an epic-fantasy fan, but this book surprised me in a good way. It's good stuff.