This series tops the Top 25 Best Fantasy Books, and with good reason and it's my pick for the best fantasy series. Martin shattered the fantasy mold and created something completely new. Indeed, fantasy books will never be the same. The world created is a dark one: children are made slaves, brutal graphic wars are fought, heroes are slain and villains are crowned king, swearing and sex are rampant, and all that's ugly about the world is flung in your face.This is a world where heroes are not invincible, and villains are just as likely to emerge victorious. This type of gritty fantasy is not for everyone. Those faint of heart who wish to sail in safer fantasy waters would do well to look elsewhere: this is a no-holds-barred look at a fantasy medieval world; if lingering in padded fantasy worlds where sex is suspiciously absent, violence treated as a romantic comedy, and dashing, good-looking heroes always win, this fantasy may not be for you. But for those of you with a steady heart who want an absolutely addicting descent into a medieval realm torn asunder, where struggling heroes may or may not win, where magic is as mysterious as it is ephemeral, where the battles are so vivid you can hear the clash of steel and the whinnies of dying horses, where an epic story spans the vastness of continents, then heed the siren call of A Song of Ice and Fire.A Song of Ice and Fire is a starkly real treatment of the horror of war and conquest of lands, of rape and pillage and revenge, and man's ultimate fight against extinction. So if you have what it takes, read this series. I guarantee your reading world will never be the same.The last two books in the series have a been a bit of a let-down in terms of moving the plot forward, but things do look up for book 6. But even in 2015, we are STILL waiting for the next in the series. Will Martin ever finish this series? Maybe.Regardless, Martin has still crafted a fantasy world that's taken our world by storm, and it still stands as one of the best examples of fantasy out there.
If you like Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire saga, try David Anthony Durham's Acacia . It's very similar to A Song of Ice and Fire. It's the first of a series, but what a first book. It's one of my top picks for 2007.
Also read Greg Keyes' The Briar King. The series has been completed for many years now and unfortunately, the last book really disappointed, but it's worth reading.
You can also try R. Scott Bakker's The Darkness That Comes Before, which features superlative prose, a unique, but fascinating story-line, and the gritty realism that Martin exhibits.
You might also like Tad Williams newest fantasy saga: Shadowmarch. It's got some similar themes and the series is NOW complete.
It's a given that you should read Malazan Book of the Fallen for some epic fantasy that will blow your socks off. And for a solid gritty fantasy about a company of soldiers who work for evil, give Glen Cook's Black Company a read.