Published in 1996 and written by George R. R. Martin, A Song of Ice and Fire became a series of books: 1) A Game of Thrones, 2) A Clash of Kings, 3) A Storm of Swords, 4) A Feast for Crows, 5) A Dance with Dragons, 6) The Winds of Winter, and 7) A Dream of Spring. The last two books have yet to be published (Hurry up, George!).
Set in the fictional world of Westeros and Essos, it has everything you wanted in an epic fantasy novel: giants, dwarfs, dragons, zombies (of the frozen kind), magical beings, etc. Not to mention beheadings and betrayals, love and lust, and of course, nobility and loyalty. One thing that sets it apart from books of this genre is though magic is present, it doesn't dominate the story line. Realism weighed heavily on important events, even in the most gruesome battle scenes. Martin also doesn't care if a character is an obvious favorite, he'll chop his head off anyway. Mine, by the way, is Jon Snow. I don't care if he 'knows nothing', ever since he rescued those poor direwolf pups, I knew he's my favorite (Please don't kill him, George.).
As I was saying, I can't wait for books 6 and 7 to be published which I read won't come out before 2015. Boo! So, I leave you with this chilling and foretelling quote to ponder instead:
'When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.'