I used to read the books, but they got too dark. Look, I adore fantasy, but I'm also an optimist who believes in human decency and the ultimate triumph of good, as well as the need to try in spite of facing a stacked deck. GoT masquerades as mature with it's veneer of cynicism, darkness, and sick sexuality, but ultimately doesn't strike me as being the ultimate in mature fantasy. Is it interesting and well crafted? Yes. But it's ultimately an altar to a lack of faith in goodness, in human potential for goodness, in faith itself, as delivered by a pussy who thought he was too good to go fight in Vietnam.
I much prefer Tolkien, with his themes on how the right thing must be done in spite of the odds, and that hope is folly, foolishness, but necessary as we march forth to love with integrity in spite of the world around us, themes of companionship and loyalty, of justice not going hand in hand with punishment. This too, is how the real world works. Goodness, forgiveness, sacrifice and hope are as real as realpolitik and rape, and I believe that they are more essential to our humanity and civilization. We can acknowledge the darkness in us and be complex without forgetting that there is Good and Evil, and choosing the former is the right choice, and is abundantly possible.
Do I respect R. R Martin's technical talent as a storyteller? Yes. Much else about him or his stories, no.