Best show I've ever watched. Period.
Best novels I've ever read. Period.
And both are awesome.
No hypebole, no sensationalism.
It's just the best.
As for the comparisons, the TV show is about 95 percent accurate to the novel. They abbreviate a few things and tighten a few things up, and find different ways to reveal information that makes more sense for a TV show, but this is largely the same narrative.
This show is a perfect example of why you stick to the fucking blueprint. This show achieves what The Walking Dead failed to do in its translation, although I still enjoyed The Walking Dead TV series.
The thing I like best about the series (books and TV) is the sense of CONSEQUENCE. I don't know who's going to live and who's going to die. It makes me really care about the events. And the characters are ALL so awesome and interesting. Even the characters that are absolute cocknockers...I want to watch/read about them all and see where it goes.
Ironically, Martin said that the series was something he decided to write when he got tired of the constraints of writing for TV. He said 'I wanted to write something where I didn't have to worry about the limitations of TV. I could just put whatever I wanted in there and not have to hold back or keep anything out.'
And now with a quality network like HBO, who is committed to providing top flight entertainment to the audiences, it can be made exactly as he intended.
I'm also watching Camelot right now, and it's got some problems. If Game of Thrones had not been on at the same time, I might be more forgiving. It just comes off as so lightweight by comparison. After Game of Thrones, I don't think I can ever go back to network TV, either. It's just fucking kids' stuff by comparison.