I was rather surprised to discover that I genuinely enjoyed this.
I'm not particularly fond of high fantasy or epic fantasy, and I tend to avoid doorstoppers and never-ending series on sight. I've always heard ASoIaF mentioned in the same breath as the Kingkiller Chronicles, and let's just say that my venture into Kvothe's world was less than successful. Plus, I'm not really a fan of rape, incest, or bloodbaths. Long story short, I'd never really intended to try this series. However, when I saw it available on audio at my library, I decided to take a stab at it.
Much to my shock, I really did enjoy it.
The audiobook narrator was enjoyable, even though he went seriously overboard with the accents. I don't think I would have made it through if I'd tried to read the book on my own. (I'd still love to know why he gave Tyrion Lannister a Welsh-ish accent, though.)
I've seen plenty of great reviews for this book over the years, both positive and negative, so I'm not going to bother to write another. Yes, it is a doorstopper; yes, there is an impressive amount of gore, yes, there is way too much rape and incest. What that means for the story is more complicated. One of the more intriguing aspects of the book, for me, was what felt like a complete absence of judgement of the characters from the narrator.
My commentary: (spoilers will be tagged.)
Those bloody catchphrases: Pretty sure I never want to hear the phrases "blood of the dragon," "wake the dragon," "game of thrones," or "winter is coming" ever again. I think Martin might repeat them more than Butcher uses "arched an eyebrow" (but not more than "hell's bells.")
The worldbuilding: I loved the North part. I actually couldn't really imagine how freaking cold it is. I don't think I've ever heard the phrase, "The gentle summer snows" before. (The phrase refers to a light four feet or so.) The "winter is coming" bit makes more sense when you realise that they are referring to unpredictable and sometimes decades-long "seasons." It's been spring for nine years, and now...well, you guessed it.
On the Dothraki:
On characters: Tyrion is my favourite, bar none. The daddy issues, the way he both flaunts and hides his height and deformity, the sarcasm... it all makes me want to read the Vorkosigan Saga again.(show spoiler)
(If they're dumb or obvious, please remember that I've only made it through the first book, and I wasn't necessarily paying close attention.)
I know how this series will end (and so do you):
I think I know who Jon Snow is: