oh wait, forgot this is slashdot. carry on.
It's dark, it's gritty, and yet it's redeeming, portrays all the characters as more than one dimensional stock, and manages to include philosophical critiques of the world, religion, philosophy, economics, emotion, and fanaticism of all stripes without breaking stride or tone. It's the only series that has made me care about a couple of villains as well as the heroes. It is simply amazing. Just be warned: to start the series you're going to have to slog through approximately half of "Gardens of the Moon" before you start getting it. Once you do though, you'll be hooked.
if you replace "Gardens of the Moon" with "A Game of Thrones", you get a very good description of a song of fire and ice. which is not at all a bad thing, mind you.