Okay, so I'm finally through most of the series that's been released so far. I still have about 200 pages to go in A Feast For Crows (4th book) and then I think I'll take a break before reading A Dance With Dragons. I have too many other books I've been wanting to read that I've let gather dust while I read these, so it's time to do some catching up.
So, my thoughts.....I love the show and I have to say, seeing the show first actually helped me in understanding a lot of the plots in the books. Otherwise, I'm pretty sure I would have been almost totally lost. The only downside I really see to watching the show before reading the books is, of course, not feeling the crazy emotions when George RR Martin tears out your heart when you're least expecting it. Now that I've come to a book that hasn't been a season in the show yet, I realize how much you can be caught off guard when a main character dies. It's almost like "They drank wine, had a feast and, oh, by the way (insert character name here) got killed and his head was put on a pike a few days ago."
I do love the books, but the fourth book is taking me forever to get through as I'm now having to flip back and forth between the appendix and the story when these characters I've never heard of before start showing up. Hopefully over the next two days I can finish it completely and then move on with my life for a couple months until I get some of these other books read. So far though, this series definitely gets put at the top of my favorites, right alongside The Dark Tower.