"In real life, the hardest aspect of the battle between good and evil is determining which is which." -- George R.R. Martin
One of the best fantasy book series out there today is the epic Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. As of this writing, there have been four books released in a planned seven title series, and in my humble opinion all of them have been brilliant. HBO is planning a live action adaptation (starring Peter Dinklage, perfectly cast as my favorite character Tyrion), and if it's anything close to the source material, it should be incredible.
It helps that Martin is a fabulous writer with a free flowing style that is a joy to read and a grasp of dramatic storytelling that is unmatched. His characters are all multi-faceted and his plot is full of surprises. He's not afraid to shake things up with a shocker or two, but he doesn't throw twists at his reader for shock value alone -- each tense moment, each revelation, each jarring death serves the overall tale and advances the plot.
Folks who are not fans of speculative fiction should read this series. The magic and fantasy elements aren't over the top but fit the story in a believable fashion. The world Martin has created is rich in detail and comes alive in the reader's imagination thanks to his descriptive prose. Yes, there are dragons, and sorcery, and supernatural creatures, and precognitive dreams, and a world whose geography and seasons are like nothing on Earth, but like Shakespeare's best tragedies, it's all set in a saga of universal themes.
If he can keep up the thrills he created in A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Feast for Crows, I eagerly await George R.R. Martin's continuing novels to see what happens next to Tyrion, Daenerys, Cersei, Jon Snow, and all the rest.