Readers who come to this review later in the series must note that, at the time of this writing, I have only seen the inaugural episode.
It's probably safe to say, when dealing with a series of novels as beloved as The Song of Ice and Fire, the most scrutinized aspect of the T.V. adaptation will be how well it holds to the source material. I am here to confirm, as a fierce devotee to the books, that we have nothing to fear.
While certain scenes play out differently in execution, the plot remains perfectly intact (so far). The characters have been transplanted well from page to screen, and the actors (most notably Peter Dinklage) nailed their personalities quite well. However; it is only fair to point out some of the acting seemed a little wooden at times.
Special effects were well done, though nothing mind-blowing, but the scenery and props perfectly captured the feel of the novels (in my mind at least). It also must be noted that there was just the right amount of nudity, violence and vulgarity to let the audience know they were watching a tale woven for mature viewers without using said nudity, violence and vulgarity as a crutch.
All and all, I am very, very pleased with this adaptation, and I went into it expecting to be disappointed. If I were to gripe about anything, it would be that newcomers who have not read the books might not know what to think of this fantasy story for adults. Some may shrug it off as fodder for geeks, while others might take offence to what they may see as a defiling of a genre usually meant for children.
After watching the entire first season, I can safely say this is perhaps the BEST adaptation of book into film/TV. While many moments in the show do not match the moments in the book action for action and word for word, the plot is never sacrificed when doing this, and the alterations simply make the story a better fit for a one-hour television time slot.
In addition, new scenes (by which I mean scenes which never happened in the book at all) fit seamlessly into the greater plot, and help the audience with information they would only otherwise get via the narrative of the novel (EG: asides which explain character/world history).
Top form, HBO. Top form.