My first introduction to Game of Thrones (the show) was a poor one. I didn't have HBO and I didn't follow any kind of website that talked about it, so it went largely unnoticed by me for its entire first season. The first time I heard of it was through an acquaintance, and they likened it to Legend of the Seeker on the CW, but with less magic (boy was that person off the mark with that comparison). I didn't even know GoT had existed for years in novel form at that point; or rather, I had heard of A Song of Ice and Fire, but did not have the context clues to associate the two as being the same.
So like any person with common sense who had seen Legend of the Seeker, I avoided Game of Thrones like the plague. I couldn't keep it far for long, though, as another friend learned of my disdain for the concept and enlightened me to A Song of Ice and Fire proper. This changed everything. I was long familiar with the fact that the source material is always better than the film adaptation, and my apprehension slowly began to fade.
I was left with a stack of four books, with a newly-released (at that time) fifth book awaiting me, should I wish to read on. I was maybe ten chapters in before I decided that yes, I would like to read on. Eventually, I came to see that the comparison to the Sword of Truth adaptation was unfounded. I fell in love. I dove into Game of Thrones headfirst after finishing the books, and never looked back.
Imagine my surprise when I ventured into the Game of Thrones subreddit a few months later and discovered that many fans actually hate the books. This actually touches on why I dislike fandoms in general, and why I generally don't post or visit io9 or the O-Deck much these days. I don't like spoilers; I don't like speculation, because I enjoy surprises and also because I get burned out and become disinterested; and I don't like 'fan-favorite' anything. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with these things, but I'm highly introverted and prefer to digest my interests apart from the herd, on my own terms, with no-one around to try and one-up or out-fan me.
While you may not agree with my preferences, hopefully you can come to understand why I was so surprised by /r/gameofthrones at the time, and ASoIaF fandom in general. The subreddit, as well as hundreds of other forums, was full of ideas that surprised me. To name a few: "Sansa is stupid, kill her off.", "Is this all Daenerys is going to do in ADwD?" and "Another POV character, WTF?". I just could not understand the disdain people had for these characters, and for the series as a whole.
Such ideas are probably not new to you, but they really caught me off-guard at the time. I didn't, and still don't, understand the vilification for the source material that gave birth to the (still) most pirated t.v. show of all time.
I agree, Sansa made some bad choices early on that led to some much nastier business, but what teenager hasn't made a horrible mistake? Sure, her head is in the clouds and she might think that the vulgar word for dung is shift, but I find that more endearing than annoying. And it's a credit to her strength as a human being that she didn't kill herself during her torturous stay in King's Landing. Furthermore, yeah, Dany dawdled a bit in Mereen, but she promised to rule. OF COURSE she'd spend time there- and this one actually ties into the whole 'Another POV?!' complaint. Any time spent with any character is welcome to me, because they provide an excess of information about the world around them, as well as its history. I like Dorne, I love the Sand Snakes, and I nearly swoon at any mention of Ser Arthur Dayne, Sword of Morning.
In short, the things that fans hate the most about A Song of Ice and Fire are what I enjoy most. The books feel like literal storybooks to me. When I saw the size of ADwD, I was salivating. Not for the potential plot advancements, but for the insight that it promised. The author himself has said that we can expect to have seen all seven kingdoms by the end of the series, and so far he's delivered. Except fans don't seem to enjoy the excess of viewpoints, and I don't get it. Sure, they may keep the plot from progressing at your preferred pace, but these books have always been a slow burn. The series as a whole is a slow burn. I feel like these concerns stem more from a dislike of reading, than from a fault of the books.
If fans had their way, we would have a much more abridged series where the main characters go from here to here to here and do this and then it's done. We'd have just a storyboard of plot points, with nothing in between. And that sounds awful.