I'm writing this as someone who hasn't yet read the book series, and now I can't wait to read them. I generally don't go much for cable shows that pile on the sex and violence, which is definitely true of this series, but it's strengths far outweigh these aspects (frankly, even though I understand the books have a lot of sex and violence, I figure that a lot it in the show is to satisfy an HBO requirement).
Game Of Thrones
is excellently written and has many
interesting and complex characters. I will echo a common opinion that the show has truly talented child actors who inhabit their roles. I really hope the kid who plays Joffrey isn't like that in real life...
All in all, this is a must-watch and makes me optimistic about future tv and film adaptations of fantasy and science fiction novels.