I went into the story understanding that certain themes like rape hadn't been handled very well, so the disappointment there was more of a resignation than a surprise, and I was able to focus on the areas that I thought Martin handled very well: the character depth of the (very very many) villains, the twists and turns of the political maneuvering, the fact that the narrative (and surrounding characters) made no apologies for when certain characters made absolutely bone-headed mistakes (except to further characterize said surrounding character for not reacting the way that s/he "should" have according to morals and/or reason) ... Except for how surprised I was by the poor quality of the writing, however. Spelling out the sound effects instead of describing them was the big one, but I think I've also come to realize why so many writers are so passionately opposed to using adverbs. I am not sorry ;-) I'd actually thought that I did know, on an intellectual level, that adding an adverb isn't normally the most powerful way to describe something, but this book showed me just how annoying it was when every third or fourth dialogue tag depended on the adverbs to get the point across. 90% certain I want to read the second one.