I had a hard time getting through the book. My plan was to read them all leading up to this season, but the first book was such a grind that I just gave up. I assume it was because the first season pretty much follows the first book practically word for word, but it was just so tedious reading it. I got to like page 500 and essentially nothing had happened. It took 500 pages to say what the first 4 or 5 episodes said.
I'm not a huge reader, so that puts me behind the eight ball so to speak, but I just think that Martin, very much like Tolkien, is simply too wordy. He has so much fluff that it makes it really difficult to trudge through it. Maybe books 2 and 3 are different, but I felt that the tv show was vastly more entertaining than what I read of the first book. It seems like the tv show is able to eliminate Martin's crap and turn a 1,200 page snooze fest into a gripping and extremely entertaining 10 hours of television.
Maybe someday I'll try the books again, but for now, I'll stick to the tv show.