YMMV: A Game of Thrones

  • Anti-Climax Boss:
    • Viserys seems to be set up as a major villain, but he dies halfway through the first book, before he or any of his supporters set foot in Westeros.
    • Khal Drogo is set up as a major threat to all of Westeros but is reduced to a catatonic state after a festering wound is 'treated' by the blood magic of a maegi who had reason to despise him. He never even crosses the narrow sea to begin the invasion of Westeros.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • At one point Ned Stark observes that Tywin Lannister is "as much fox as lion". Rennaisance philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli famously wrote in his classic work on politics, The Prince, that "The prince needs to be both a fox to avoid the snares and a lion to scare away the wolves".
    • At the beginning of Tyrion's second chapter, he makes reference to Alfred Korzybski's famous postmodern axiom, "The map is not the territory." In a nutshell, it warns people against confusing their idealistic idea of how reality works — for instance, believing that acting honorably will always get you rewarded — with the nihilistic moral void of real life.
  • It Was His Sled: Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon both die. Dragons are hatched for the first time in centuries. Jaime is Cersei's lover (unlike the show, it was a mystery for a good part)
  • He's Just Hiding: Benjen Stark and Syrio Forel
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: At one point, Robert laments that "the way Cersei guards her Country Matters you'd think she had all the gold of Casterly Rock between her legs." Of course, readers know that this is only applicable when it comes to Robert. Otherwise...
  • Moral Event Horizon: Joffrey infamously crosses this by having Eddard Stark beheaded.
  • Narm: Viserys' warnings about "waking the dragon". Fair enough, it would be frightening from Dany's perspective. From the reader's perspective, he's too obviously a little shit to be frightened by. It doesn't help that he uses the phrase nearly every time he appears, and by the end he sounds more like he's trying to turn it into his catchphrase than actually threatening anyone.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Ser Waymar Royce. Dead by the end of the prologue like almost everyone else met during it (the Sole Survivor dying in the first chapter proper), but he got one hell of a memorable Dying Moment of Awesome and a decent amount of personality, considering his limited pagetime.
    • Old Nan and her story of the Last Hero is one of the most memorable parts of the books.
  • The Scrappy: Sansa didn't endear a lot of readers with her annoying dreaminess and admiration of Cersei and Joffrey. Not siding with her sister during the Trident incident and telling Cersei of her father's plans to leave also turned many people off from her. Certainly not helping is the contrast between her and her sister, a rebellious, tomboyish underdog.
  • Too Cool to Live: Syrio Forel, so much — which combined with his off-screen death has predictably led some fans to speculate that He's Just Hiding.
  • What an Idiot: Many of Eddard Stark's actions in fall under this, but worst was preemptively telling Cersei that he knows her secret and what he plans to do, all while having reason to believe that Cersei had his foster father killed for the exact same reasons.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Little Bran is taken to watch a man die.