I have started reading this series, and it is as wonderful as everyone has said! Not only that, but I have discovered there are literally hundreds of websites devoted to this series. I understand why the media would be interested in expanding the reach of these very interesting books. There is too much material&way too many characters to create a movie, so a series was a logical step.
Mr. Martin is a fan of medieval history and he wanted to do a seies of books based loosely on the War of the Roses, but to make it more intersting he used a few fantasy elements like dragons, long seasons, and a few supernatural occurances&unnatural people.
(There was an event in the second book about dead soldiers beating back an invasion that made me wonder if Return of the King had used the scene
I have a few cast recommendations, and Shurik will get a good laugh out of this I'm sure.
Lord Eddard---Colin Firth
Catelyn---Ione Skye or Lena Heady
Queen Ceresi---Ms. Heifler on Battlestar Galactica
King Stannis---Colm Feore
Jaime--Karl Urban or Mathew McConaughey
Varys the Eunuch---Bruce Campbell
King Robert--Anthony Head
Tyrion---Peter Dinkylas(already been cast!)
The Hound--Ron Perlman
Sir Jorah Mormont--Chris Meloni
Master Luwin--Tobin Bell
King Robb Stark--Thomas Dekker
Red Priestess--Kirstie Ally
Davos---Jason Isaacs or Jeremy Irons
Mad King Aerys---Gary Oldman
Prince Rhaegar---Joaquin Phoenix
Lyanna---Mary Kate Olson
I could have stated more A-list actors but they would laugh at the suggestion of doing a series. Thats why the LOL at Johnny Depp. He would be a terrific Littlefinger but he's too expensive!
Well, Hilary, Jason&Jeremy are not exactly chopped liver, either!
Those are a shot in the dark, too. If money were no concern they all would fit the characters.
Of the characters in the books, so far, I like Catelyn(for her strength&the way she stands up for others and herself), Tyrion(for his sense of humor and sense of justice), Dany(because of her great ambition and strength), and Littlefinger(yep, he's a conniving, opportunist asshole but his sense of humor is all his own!
SPOILER: There have been suggestions that the whole chaos was started when Lyanna(Eddards sister)secretly married Prince Rhaegar and she died in childbirth giving her son(who is the charcter Jon Snow)to her brother to raise as his. He promised to keep secret that Jon is the true heir to the Seven Kingdoms(because if it was discovered, the other kings would kill him). So when Jon reached 13, he was sent to The Wall as a member of the very secretive, cloistered Nights Watch because he(and his real identity) would be protected there forever.
I am 3/4 of the way finished with the second book(A Clash of Kings), and in a few days will start the third(A Storm of Swords).
I recommend these books very highly as they are interesting, and kinda educational. Also, the character Tyrion(and Littlefinger) will have you chuckling, thats for sure.