And yeah, I'll be blunt-- it's not great literature, there's a fair amount (by which I mean "several thousand metric assloads") of gruesomeness and grim squick(*) throughout, the dramatis personae reads like a telephone book, and George R. R. Martin seems to have graduated from the James Clavell School Of Starting A Scene Right After The Action Has Ended And Then Describing What Happened In Flashback(**).
Be that as it may, I'm still hooked on the series, if for no other reason than I want to know what happens next(***). My outer adult cringes at the indefensible stuff that goes on in the books, but my inner child is all "THIS IS SO COOL." The series is a flashy thunderous darkly glistening gory brain-Twinkie of a read, and it's kind of a nice touch that every book in the series can, at least once, make me say "Hey, I really like this character! Wow, this character's really in a tight spot! I wonder how this character will get out of
I also totally want to read fanfiction where Tyrion Lannister and Miles Vorkosigan end up becoming BFFs(*****).
(*) Which is totally going to be the name of my death metal group one day.
(**) Football team: The Fightin' Rashomons. And they are so totally going to State this year.
(***) But I'll say this right now-- If I ever start bitching about "omg when is the next book going to come out omgwtfbbq", all of you may feel free to point and laugh in my face.
(****) This is not to say that I enjoy GRRM playing the Grim Reaper with his POV characters (DEAR GEORGE R.R. MARTIN: WILL YOU PLEASE STOP KILLING OFF CHARACTERS I LIKE, FUCKING PLEASE, KTHX). But I will say that those moments were completely unexpected, so on that score I say "well done, sir." It also says something that even the moments where characters I like get killed off-- and there are plenty-- do not make me want to throw the book across the room, so that puts it one up on both Cryptonomicon and The Broom Of The System, which I think says something. (Whether this says something about the books themselves or my own taste and intellect is left as an exercise for the reader.)
(*****) Or take over their own nation. You know. Whichever.