These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Alternative Character Interpretation: Due to the complexity of the series' characters, many fall victim to this. Theon Greyjoy, Viserys Targaryen, and Jaime Lannister in particular are interpreted in vastly different ways depending on the reader.
Angst Aversion: Many are hesitant to read the novels for the first time, because of the sheer hell the author puts the protagonist Stark family (among others) through.
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.
Renly plans on stealing the throne from Stannis and has put together the largest army in Westeros, but he's assassinated on the night before the battle without putting up a fight. Stannis takes the bulk of his forces into his own campaign against the Lannisters.
Balon Greyjoy declares himself King of the Iron Islands and has set up a major campaign to raid the North, but dies off-page before he ever does anything. His brothers, however, take up the cause.
Tywin, as head of the Lannisters and chief adversary for many of the other characters, but his death has nothing to do with his domination of the continent. His abuse of his son Tyrion finally catches up to him and he dies an ignominious death on a privy.
Daenerys' prolonged arc in Essos, while teaching her a lot of useful lessons about effective rulership and politics, has got a lot of readers tearing their hair out waiting for the dragon battles already!!
Remember how there's supposed to a Zombie Apocalypse of some kind with the coming of the Others? Five books into a seven book series and so far they haven't even reached the Wall.
Daenerys spends the first three books building herself into an active conqueror. However, she spends most of A Dance With Dragons comparatively inactive and out of her depth. Her army is getting whittled away by rebels, her dragons are locked away, she's forced into a sham marriage and she's distracted by lust for Daario.
Theon Greyjoy, to the point where it's easy to forget he was ever a badass. It's worth noting that he was a skilled archer, fought beside Robb Stark and conquered Winterfell with a handful of men.
Darkstar. Though he's disliked by a lot of the fandom for being an admitted attempt to recapture the popularity of Oberyn Martell, some readers enjoy the air of mystery surrounding him and his somewhat hilarious charisma.
Some fans find Catelyn Stark to be unsympathetic due to several of her rash decisions, such as arresting Tyrion and freeing Jaime. Others find that her Mama Bear motivations make her more sympathetic or simply don't see her flaws as a impediment to their enjoyment of her character.
Daenerys Targaryen is a polarizing character, especially by Dance with Dragons. While many fans enjoy her chapters and her character, others complain about her Plot Armor and find her teenage infatuation with Daario Naaharis to be Romantic Plot Tumor.
Cersei Lannister, because her status as a Big Bad Wannabe is really divisive among fans - is it a good depiction, or is her utter political incompetence cartoonish? Many fans wish that we'd gotten a look into her mind at an earlier point (as when she gets a Sympathetic P.O.V., she's started Jumping Off the Slippery Slope), and that she were a bit more competent (or at least allowed a chance to gain legitimate victories); many non-fans wish the same on the competence front, if only because reading about her complete and utter stupidity gets grating after a point and ADWD is the only book were she doesn't appear prominently (unlike some other divisive characters). There are many perspective in-between regarding this woman, and few people can agree on the best possible interpretation of her character - and that's after you've decided whether she should be pitied, hated, admired, etc.
Broken Base: The fanbase was actually a pretty contented one up until the publication of A Feast For Crows. With A Dance With Dragons finally out, the new broken base seems to divide between fans who love it and consider it a return to form, and those who hate it and consider it AFFC 2.0. And then there are those who loved AFFC and don't consider the idea of AFFC 2.0 to be a bad thing. The split in the fanbase seems to be a result of the increased focus on world building in AFFC and ADWD. Westeros and Essos are presented in more detail than ever before, but parts of the fanbase consider this to have occurred at the expense of plot.
Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Some readers find the grimness of the setting to lose its impact over the course of the series. One can only hear so much about all the raped women and skinned children and random murders and how utterly assholish everyone seems to be before they lose interest.
Littlefinger is wildly popular, despite being one of the most scheming and villainous characters in the series, and in many ways the Big Bad of the story (or one of, anyway). It helps that he's quite witty as well as described as stylish. More than one fan has even expressed a wish to see Littlefinger come out on top in the game of thrones.
Evil Is Cool: A good deal of fans love Littlefinger, despite his role in making things worse.
Evil Is Sexy: Many characters will do anything to get into Cersei's bed, including abandoning any sense of morality they might have to earn her physical favor. Even as she becomes less and less likable throughout the series, she is still one of its primary sources of erotic fanservice.
Fanfic Fuel: Westeros' history has drawn a lot of attention from fanfiction writers, particularly Robert's Rebellion, since there are a lot of fascinating events and people but not much detail. In fact, there are plenty of mysteries that the characters themselves are still puzzling over. Not to mention the accounts from various characters contradict each other or are blatantly biased, so everyone seems to have their own idea about how the everything really happened.
Lyanna/Rhaegar, even though they've both been dead for almost twenty years. Fueled by the abundant theories about the willingness of their relationship and any child begotten by them. Though, considering how the relationship ended, the ship does leave a bad taste in the mouths of some.
Jon/Daenerys is also extremely popular, even though to date they have never met and Dany may not even know that Jon is alive. ( And also, of course, by the most common fan theories, Dany is Jon's aunt, though given her family's marriage practices this may be more of an argument in favor of the pairing than one against.)
Maesters earn silver chain links for mastering the field of medicine. Silver is known for its antibiotic properties, and it has a history of medical use in various real-world cultures.
At one point in A Dance With Dragons, Stannis's army is marching to rescue the supposed Arya Stark. One of the knights asks if all of the trouble is worth it for a woman; this is a reference to The Iliad. The knight who responds to this comment is nicknamed "Middle Liddle," which is also the nickname of a commonly used lexicon of Ancient Greek.
House Martell rules the Moorish Spain analogue of Dorne. In the real world, Charles 'the Hammer' Martel was the Frankish king who fought to keep the Moors from spreading beyond the Iberian peninsula.
In addition to this, there are all sorts of subtle references and meta-commentary to obscure and famous historical incidents and persons. Deciphering it as proven to be an Unconventional Learning Experience for readers in Ancient and Medieval European History.
Benjen Stark gets this a lot - the manner in which he disappeared partway into AGOT just screams for this revelation, especially given how much focus was put on it at the time.
Sandor Clegane, due to the not-so-subtle hints that he's the big gravedigger on Quiet Isle.
Syrio Forel.Many fans refuse to believe that he's dead due to the fact that he dies off page and no character ever actually says that he died.
Is there anybody in the fanbase that actually believes Jon Snow died at the end of ADWD? Or Stannis Baratheon, for that matter?
I Am Not Shazam: Ever since the show came out and generated more interest in the books many people have ventured into libraries and bookstores asking for the "Game of Thrones Books". Of course, newer printings of the older books and all new books have "Game of Thrones, The Hit Original Series From HBO" stamped on them now, anyway.
Sansa Stark is also a biggie with: Sansa/Sandor, Sansa/Tywin, Sansa/Willas Tyrell, Sansa/Tyrion, Sansa/Aegon, Sansa/Harry the Heir, Sansa/Petyr, Sansa/Jon, Sansa/Jaime, Sansa/Tommen, Sansa/Margaery, etc.
Arya Stark with: Arya/Gendry, Arya/Jaqen, Arya/Jon Arya/Edric Dayne, Arya/Aegon, Arya/Robert Baratheon, Arya/Willas, Arya/Tywin, Arya/Jaime, Arya/Hound, Gendry/Arya/Aegon, etc.
Jon Snow with: Jon/Ygitte, Jon/Val, Jon/Dany, Jon/Theon, Jon/Robb, Jon/Aegon, Jon/Sam, Jon/Jaime, Jon/Arya, Jon/Sansa, Jon/Catelyn, Jon/Satin, Jon/Alys, Jon/Jeyne Westerling, etc.
Aegon Targayen with: Aegon/Dany, Aegon/Arya, Aegon/Sansa, Aegon/Jon, Aegon/Margaery, Aegon/Arianne, etc.
Ned Stark with: Ned/Catelyn, Ned/Robert, Ned/Lyanna, Ned/Ashara Dayne, Ned/Wylla, Ned/Cersei, Ned/Jaime, and even Ned/Margaery.
Robb Stark with: Robb/Dacey, Robb/Roslin Frey, Robb/Jeyne Westerling, Robb/Myrcella, Robb/Margaery, Robb/Jaime, Robb/Roose, Robb/Sansa, etc.
Theon Greyjoy has been shipped with: Theon/Catelyn, Theon/Roose, Theon/Ramsay (Yes, really), Theon/Asha, Theon/Myrcella, Theon/Jeyne Poole, Theon/Jeyne Westerling, Theon/Arya, Theon/Stannis, Theon/Barbarey Dustin, Theon/Cersei, etc.
Joffrey. One of the biggest douches in the series, but so very fun to loathe with a passion.
A more amiable example would be Tywin Lannister, who generates admiration because of his badass aura and his history of being a rather effective battle commander and leader. He's of course balanced out for his cold attitude and his unfair treatment of his son Tyrion.
Randyll Tarly became the fandom's answer to the Chuck Norris Facts fad. Tarly is a fairly tough customer in the series, but nothing close to the level that fans playfully describe him.
Jaime Lannister is known within the world as one of, if not the best, swordsmen around. The 2010 suvudu.com "cage matches" between fictional characters drew a large contingent of supporters for Jaime, who bested Hermione Granger and Cthulhu, among others, before facing off against The Wheel of Time's Crystal Dragon Jesus, Rand al'Thor. Martin wrote short descriptions of how he thought Jaime would win, which usually relied on Tyrion providing him a gameplan.
Wyman Manderly has attained this status (with praises that sound almost Chuck Norris-esque, e.g. "Lord Manderly is a vegetarian. Meaning, he does not eat Freys until first he puts them into vegetative state with his fists."). His earned badassery comes from the fact that everyone underestimated the fat jolly man, and that he had the audacity to feed Frey pies to people like Ramsay and Roose Bolton without them even suspecting, and even having the bard sing "Rat Cook" right to their faces without them realizing anything, and finally surviving his throat being cut.
Rickon Stark is more of a Memetic Future Badass. He's by far the most aggressive Stark, despite being the youngest, has the most savage direwolf by his side and is living on an island of cannibals that everyoneis afraid of with a wildling spearwife. Many fans expect him to grow up to be a fierce warrior who'll wipe out all of House Stark's enemies and might even become the next King in the North.
GET HYPE FOR CLEGANEBOWL, the long-anticipated showdown between Sandor Clegane and Gregor Clegane, the latter of whom is speculated to be an undead puppet and the mysterious Kingsguard Robert Strong, take into account that Sandor is probably a gravedigger of all things lends to a showdown of poetic justice.
Tywin Lannister crossed this line before the beginning of the series: When his son Tyrion fell in love with a thirteen-year old orphan, he lied to Tyrion that the girl was a paid whore and forced Jaime to lie as well. Tywin then had his entire garrison of soldiers brutally gang-rape the poor girl, forcing Tyrion to watch it alland then participate. The minute Tyrion learns the Awful Truth, he flies into a murderous rage and brutally kills Tywin since this for him was the absolute last straw. The fact that it turns out that Tywin was a lying hypocrite who had sex with Shae (Tyrion's girlfriend) makes his actions even more monstrous.
Theon Greyjoy has perhaps the most notable one. Starting as something of a Jerkass with a downtrodden history that made him sympathetic, Theon crosses the line in a shocking way. His most heinous deed is when he allows Ramsay Bolton in the guise of 'Reek' to kill miller's two young boys, and spiked their tarred heads to his gate to cover up the escape of Bran and Rickon Stark. And then A Dance with Dragons, using some of the best writing in the series, manages to bring him firmly back into the sympathetic category again because of the horrific tortures he receives from his captors.
The Red Wedding caused two characters to cross the line, namely Roose Bolton and Walder Frey. The former slaughtered his fellow Northmen only out of opportunism and personally killed Robb Stark. The latter orchestrated the massacre out of spite and laughed while it happened (not to mention that murdering a guest under your roof is considered one of the most despicable and dishonorable things a person can do in Westeros). However, the mastermind behind the Red Wedding was Tywin Lannister, but he had already crossed the Moral Event Horizon.
What Gregor did to Princess Elia and her baby. Even worse is that he laughs about it and was only 17 at the time. Also, he held his little brother's face in a fire because Sandor played with his toys. It's also hinted that Gregor killed his father, his little sister, and his first two wives. He once even killed a man for snoring too loudly!
An in-universe example: several characters consider Jaime Lannister's killing of Aerys Targaryen to be this. Since Jaime himself thinks it's his Moment Of Awesome (with considerable justification, given that Aerys was planning to burn down the entire city of King's Landing with its residents still inside), this causes friction. A straighter example is throwing Bran Stark out of a tower window because the boy saw him having sex with his twin sister.
If Cersei had not long since passed the MEH, her treatment of Falyse Stokeworth would see her leaping across it. She tells Falyse and her husband to get rid of Bronn, and when the plan fails she condemns Falyse to be tortured to death by Qyburn without a second thought simply because her presence at court would inconvenience Cersei.
Varys arguably crosses it when he murders Kevan Lannister to deliberately destabilise the realm. Regardless of his supposed good intentions, he's dooming thousands more to die, even though it's supposedly for the realm's good.
The way George RR Martin tries to write the sounds of things like war horns (HAAAAAAAARRROOOOOOOO).
Long-winded descriptions of food and clothing.
The combination of archaic phrases with more modern language annoys some readers. For example, "break your fast" instead of "have breakfast" and the intermittent use of "four-and-twenty" structure for ages.
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.
Theon names his ship Sea Bitch.
In a scene from the fifth book, Dany hears Quaithe talking to her in the stars, telling her "Remember who you are." It can't possibly be taken seriously when the same thing happens, word for word, in The Lion King.
Also, in ASOS, Stannis and Melisandre talk about "waking the great stone dragons" on Dragonstone... just like the Ancestors wanted Mushu to do in Mulan.
The Dothraki like to get drunk on fermented mare's milk, a custom taken from their real-world counterpart culture (see kumis). Unlike real-world kumis and other dishes that appear in the books, the reader is given no reason to believe the drink is appetizing in any way, and it's described as being just as sour-smelling, lukewarm, and chunky as you would think.
The dishes at the Red Wedding are either bland or just revolting (jellied calf's brains?!).
In-Universe example: Jaime Lannister is forever known as the Kingslayer for murdering the man he was supposed to protect. To be fair, while the King in question was popularly recognized as The Caligula, the fact that most people don't know just how off his rocker Aerys was (planning to burn the Capital to the ground out of spite), and the misperception that Jaime killed him to further the ambition of House Lannister (Ned, in fact, believes that he killed Aerys because he wanted the throne for himself and was just playing a long game), is what really circles this trope off.
Fandom Example: Catelyn Stark, despite being a kind and caring mother who gives her eldest son solid advice and a woman with a strong sense of honor and duty. She is widely disliked because her first actions in the series are against the extremely popular Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister. Against Jon, she is openly disdainful generally. She tells Ned on no uncertain terms will she allow Jon to remain in Winterfell after Ned leaves for the South, effectively turning him out if he doesn't leave with Ned. It is at Maester Luwin's suggestion that Jon join the Night's Watch. And in a moment of mad grief over her comatose seven-year-old son Bran, she tells him "it should have been you" before breaking down in tears. Soon after, upon meeting Tyrion Lannister at an inn, she arrests him for the attacks on Bran, mistakenly believing him to be the one responsible. This arrest serves as one of many catalysts that sets the long simmering tensions in Westeros aflame, erupting into the War of the Five Kings.
Ramsay Bolton's very... fond of his Reek. This only makes being Reek even more terrifying, if that's even possible.
"And what do you want, my sweet Reek?" Ramsay murmured, as softly as a lover. His breath smelled of mulled wine and cloves, so sweet.
Also, in early books, Littlefinger's stroking Sansa's face, commenting on her attractiveness, saying he understands Joffrey wanting the "sweet prize" of her body, squicked out many fans. After book three, he's too obvious about his attraction to her for it to count as subtext, but, now that he's her uncle and adoptive father, it's even creepier.
"Very well, ser. Bring on your storm. And remember, if you will, the name of this castle."
Archmaester Marwyn, called "The Mage" by the other archmaesters for his interest in the occult and jumping at the call to put his knowledge to work.
Wyman Manderly's granddaughter Wylla, who stands up for the Starks and gives Davos her support, despite her family's protests and attempts to silence her. Lord Wyman praises her bravado once he reveals his plan to Davos.
Lyanna Mormont, who doesn't even get an actual scene. One letter to Stannis from the ten-year-old daughter of Bear Island refusing to bend the knee, and she is everyone's hero.
Alys Karstark receives a lot of fan enthusiasm for her take-charge attitude. By fleeing her Evil Uncle on horseback, she avoids a forced marriage, and by entering a bold arrangement with the Magnar of Thenn, she stands to inherit Karhold with a house full of free folk backing her.
Opening a Can of Clones: The Faceless Men; just look at the WMG page. This despite the fact that the only use of Actually a Doombot the series has so far pulled off was actually Melisandre's doing. This also seems to be based on an earlier understanding of Faceless Man powers that was jossed in A Dance With Dragons: The Faceless Men keep around faces taken off of corpses and use blood magic to put them on their own faces. While this doesn't necessarily rule out impersonation via glamour, chances are that if a Faceless Man impersonates someone, the person they are impersonating is dead.
Romantic Plot Tumor: Dany's teenage crush on Daario is one of the most frequently complained about things in A Dance With Dragons.
The Scrappy: A few examples, with a cast so large. Some are due to characters having intentional flaws, while others are simply disliked as characters.
Darkstar, introduced in A Feast for Crows. Martin admitted that he wanted to recapture some of the aspects that fans liked about Oberyn Martell, the Red Viper of Dorne, but some fans rejected this minor character's overt attempts at Evil Is Cool.
People are deeply divided on the subject of Catelyn, but she's one of the most disliked of the main characters among the fandom due to her poor treatment of Jon and her rash behavior.
Dany's Meereenese supporting cast in A Dance With Dragons is very unpopular for a variety of reasons - difficult names, perceived blandness and the idea that the conflict in Meereen is ultimately irrelevant. Daario Naharis draws particular ire for his negative effect on Dany's character.
Dany herself to a lot of readers as a matter a fact. In a series where stupidity tends to be swiftly rewarded with predictable results, she gets away with plenty of blunders yet keeps on surviving because she happens to have a very strong army, very competent subordinates and of course, dragons. Far more competent characters can only dream of ever having such resources at their disposal.
Prince Aegon Targaryen, primarily to Dany's fans due to his brattiness compared to Dany's maturity (at a younger age, no less), as well as him coming completely out of nowhere and going to conquer Westeros before Dany can. Plus, he has a much more solid claim to the Targaryen throne than Dany does, which Dany's fans feel ruins the value of her being the last Targaryen. To put this into perspective the prevailing fan theory before his appearance was that he secretly survived despite his alleged murder by Gregor Clegane. When he finally did appear, the prevailing theory was that yes, he did die, and this "Aegon" is a fake.
Lysa Arryn isn't particularly popular, either, due to her Genre Blindness, wanting to see Tyrion executed and indirectly causing the entire plot to kick off. Not to mention she still breastfeeds her six year old son... Though as noted above, she has some elements of the Jerkass Woobie as well.
Seasonal Rot: A Feast for Crows features only half the usual characters and places a lot of emphasis on new characters, giving the reader more of a commoner's perspective of Westeros than before. Many readers rejected the shift in emphasis, preferring the focus stay on the main plotlines and characters.
For Sansa: Sansa/Jaime, Sansa/Willas, Sansa/Stannis, etc.
Jon Snow and Daenerys might be the biggest one, as many fans feel they fit the "Ice and Fire" motif.
Aegon/Young Griff and about a dozen females he's never met.
Squick: The series is known for its grittiness, gore, and creepy sex scenes. Often the squick is played for black humour.
Some people really react poorly to the sex scenes involving Tyrion. Other than him being an ugly dwarf, however, they're pretty normal.
Another disgusting but completely hilarious scene is when Jaime and Cersei Lannister have rough sex next to their son Joffrey's tomb. While Cersei bleeds from her period. Their incestuous relationship already brings a certain amount of squick to any sex scene.
Cersei describes how she got a kick out of eating Robert's semen as a figurative consumption of tens of thousands of his potential children out of spite. Weird.
Tywin Lannister in the end of book three is shot in the gut with a crossbow while sitting naked on the privy, and takes a postmortem dump. Tyrion later suggests that shit was dripping from the wound..
Littlefinger and his creepy obsession with Sansa Stark, which is wrong on so many levels.
Theme Pairing: It has been (pretty convincingly) argued that Brienne and Sansa would be pretty much perfect for each other, as Sansa has not completely given up on the concept of a "true knight", and Brienne is exactly that. The characters have yet to meet, though.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Jeyne Westerling. As a girl from the Westerlands marrying and falling in love with the young King in the North, she had a lot of potential characterization to be explored, but the book just drops her by the wayside and lets Robb die because of their marriage without developing their relationship. Later on, after the Red Wedding, it's explained that her mother Sybelle Spicer was working with Tywin by using Jeyne as a pawn to instigate the Freys' betrayal of Robb. Her potential importance and subsequent disappearance from view led to a lot of speculation that she was secretly bearing an heir to Robb's crown, but this doesn't seem to be the case. The most we get out of her is her saying "I loved him" and not really exploring how much being used as a destabilizing tool affected her. To add insult to injury, she was Adapted Out of the HBO show and replaced by a completely different character, who along with her unborn child was killed off in particularly brutal fashion. However, Martin has confirmed that she will appear in the prologue for Winds, though time will tell if this will be an Author's Saving Throw for Jeyne's fans.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Arianne's chapters had potential to be a very interesting arc, but it was foiled so quickly that many feel that there was really no point to her story.
Walder Frey's decision to collaborate in the Red Wedding in the way he did. In the process he's joined sides with two backstabbing houses and taken most of the blame for the atrocities committed there. Although House Frey gained a big jump in nominal power, it's also received a bad reputation throughout the kingdom and had some of its members picked off by bandits as a result. Some fans believe that the cons vastly outweigh the short-term gains that his house has received.
Many of Eddard Stark's actions in Game 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.
The measurement systems used in the original English version are normally adapted to equivalent ones used in ancient times by the target language.
Other than that, foreign Western translations avoid changing too many of the terms used in the book (e.g. honorifics) and keep them as they are in the English, because Westeros has a distinctly English flavor to it.
One particularly botched and narmy attempt at Woolseyism is one of the Russian translations. Calling Winterfell "Zlozim'ye," Dreadfort "Ostrog Uzhasniy" and Casterly Rock "Bobrovyi Utes" (Beaver Rock) (thinking "Casterly" refers to the Latin word for beaver), yet keeping the Anglo-Saxon sounding names of the characters caused an unpleasant salad of languages. In the most well-known Russian translation, only those place names are translated which are clearly just plain English words, such as "the Twins" or "King's Landing". That particular translation's also translated not to the House of Casterly who built it.