- 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.
- First Installment Wins: Well, less the installment and more its title. Once the HBO adaptation took it, the actual book series title of "A Song of Ice and Fire" became less popular.
- Genius Bonus:
- At one point Ned Stark observes that Tywin Lannister is "as much fox as lion". Renaissance 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.
- He's Just Hiding!: Benjen Stark and Syrio Forel are never actually shown dying and are popular targets of speculation as a result. The series ended up using a common fan theory that Coldhands is Benjen as a wight.
- 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...
- When things go sour and the Starks and Baratheons all declare war to the Lannisters Tyrion's sarcastic remark to Tywin Take heart, Father. At least Rhaegar Targaryen is still dead. is all too ironic since at the end of A Dance with Dragons without counting Daenerys' threat (and any secret child of Rhaegar and Lyanna) at least one son of Rhaegar Targaryen is alive and kicking and coming for revenge.
- Having the insane, bitchy, unstable partner of a man named a variation of Jon being called Lysa (with a close friend named Petyr) may remind some of The Room, especially since the third book reveals that Lysa had most likely been having an affair with Jon's trusted friend.
- 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).
- Misaimed Fandom: There are many fans who cry foul at the HBO series' portrayal of Dany and Drogo's marriage night, which is unquestionably rape in the show but given a less unpleasant portrayal in the book, where the pair share some tender interactions before getting started. This fan reaction ignores that this is still rape because Dany was married off against her will to a powerful man she can't safely refuse, which is perhaps a modern take on the event, but even in the book, every night after their marriage is given a brutal portrayal matching the show. Drogo roughly uses Dany every night, often leaving her too bruised to fall asleep afterward; before long she is having suicidal thoughts. This persists until Dany has her handmaidens teach her some techniques so she can gain some power in the bedroom. The only real alteration that happens because of the change is that Drogo looks worse than he was in the book, where he is at least making an effort to gain Dany's consent.
- Moral Event Horizon: Joffrey infamously crosses this by having Eddard Stark (who would have been his father-in-law) beheaded, thus ensuring that Robb Stark would despise House Lannister and declare war.
- 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 (even if it was a deplorable 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. Even many of her fans will admit to disliking her at first because of this book, even if it was intentional on the writers part.
- 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.
YMMV / A Game of Thrones