It's a shame I'm a huge fan of the books but the series pretty much butchers them. Most of the compelling points have been ground down to mediocrity if not left out altogether. I understand that things need to be sacrificed in order to take things to the screen but if it weren't for the names it would be unrecognizable. LOTR proved it's possible to do a decent adaption and with an extra 11 hours or so of footage I had high expectations.
I have tried to judge the show purely on it's own merits but I find it painful to watch as it diverges almost completely from the books. If your a fan of the series I would suggest you stay away from it since you will likely spend the show wondering WTF and wincing.
If your not a fan you may find some redeeming value in the show but if you do and like it. I'd highly suggest you turn off the TV and pick up the books. There is no comparison between the quality of the two.
A true shame.