I'm not a big fantasy reader—aside from the usual suspects like The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, I've found too many of the fantasy books I've tried to read, or that I've had recommended to me, to be pretty shitty, or at least shitty enough to keep me from embracing the genre as much as I'd like.
The exceptions, though, are the four (so far) books in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, which are nothing short of amazing. Crammed with phenomenal characters, complex political scheming, and impressive amounts of both blood and sex, Martin's books are gritty, smart, and gripping—in the months since I started reading the series, I've recommended and/or given the first book, A Game of Thrones, to more people than I can remember, and often to people who wouldn't normally give two shits about anything marketed as "fantasy."
Next year, HBO's eagerly anticipated adaptation of the series begins—and with Martin's involvement, an impressive cast, and writers like Jane Espenson, it's safe to say things are looking pretty good so far. Here's HBO's super-short, super-vague teaser for the series, via io9.
That ain't much, but what it is doesn't look bad. Now for chrissakes, Martin, finish the damn fifth book already.