I was never one for the hype while the hype was at its peak. When Harry Potter was at the height of popularity, I was disinterested. In all fairness I did have to wait for the final books to come out. But I was definitely not the hipster, "I liked them before they were popular" of Harry Potter.
I was also not the Song of Ice and Fire hipster either. And I'd like to think that I didn't buy into all the hype that spawned when HBO made the fantasy series into a show. I watched season 1 only after is came out on DVD, and currently I'm reading book 1, "A Game of Thrones" via audio book. In fact, I'm currently listening to it while I type this. It's hard to do these two things at once. Had I not seen the show first, this would have been very confusing.
All the major spoilers of the past 3 seasons of the show, and I'm assuming this is the case for the first 3 books, have been revealed to me thanks to the Internet and my own curiosity. The 'shocking' moments feel forced to me. It's as if Martin took the most shocking and sensational path for the sake of being shocking. It leaves a strange taste in my mouth. It doesn't seem wrong, but it feels cheap. It reminds me of how Stephen King will shock his readers by killing off endearing characters in the most gruesome and sudden ways imaginable. These characters are often female, young, and play a key role in the story up until they are hideously disfigured and often dispatched. Two examples would be Cell and 11/22/63 come to mind.
That's not to say that I'm not enjoying Martin's work. The intrigue and character development is some of the best I've read. And the characters feel real. They are flawed just like real people. There is no Hollywood glamorization to them. Martin is to Tolkien as Deadwood is to a spaghetti-western. I'm looking forward to seeing where the stories go beyond the show.