Crow wrote:"Moral Ambiguity"? "The "good guys" hit rock bottom before a reprise"?
You two are joking, right?
Explain to me the character development in this series. Outside of TWO (admittedly excellent) characters - Jaime and Snow - everyone is as two-dimensional as you can get. And if there IS a hint of moral ambiguity, it's obvious as to how they'll develop.
Cersei - Cunt. Always has been, always will be.
Tywin - Hard, doing it for his family. Always has been, always will be.
Tyrion - Wanting acceptance and peace. Always has been, always will be.
Ned Stark/Any male Stark - Honour-bound, noble. Always has been, always will be.
Samsa - Stupid cunt. Always has been, always will be.
Daenerys - Started out as a victim, now becoming a bitch. Slight exception to the rule.
Paetyr - Selfish, driven by power-lust. Always has been, always will be.
Stannis - Hard, power-lust, petulant. Always has been, always will be.
(Obviously this is slightly tongue-in-cheek, but you get the point.)
Your minor characters go through SLIGHT ambiguity, but for the most part, they're driven by selfishness.
I think the world-building is fairly rich, but the constant sadism is starting to become tiresome. Not to mention the actions of the characters and the scenes: "What's the most fucked up thing that could happen right now, but with a twist? Yep, it happened."
Unless something like ten seasons and over 7,000 pages is leading up to a massive buttfucking of every "bad" character in the series, it's becoming increasingly apparent that this has been written entirely for shock value.
(And don't give me that shit about Joffrey getting what he deserved as a "bad guy". At that point, he couldn't fuck anyone over anymore than he already had. He was going to be a shitty king, sure, but I've yet to see a good one in the series. And had he stayed alive, none of what happened after would have transpired.)
As usual you framed your argument well and your posts are a pleasure to read.
First let me be clear...I fucking hate Martin. A Song of Ice and Fire is incredibly overrated. Books four and five are terrible.
That said, as much as it pains me to admit it, Hellboy is spot on. Martin writes his characters in a fairly realistic manner. Very rarely does the good guy win. Concepts of good and evil are mostly constructs. Humans are a result of their environment and socialization. What one culture deems evil another views as good. Most everything is some shade of gray.
Martin is essentially writing a secondary world fantasy version of Wars of the Roses. Having studied that time in depth it was dark and cruel and the good guy rarely won. I can, and do, fault Martin for many things, almost all though are related to his writing and plot development issues. His world doesn't need moral balance just continuity and consistency, which he achieves. His world and the story he is telling is ultimately about power and revenge and the lengths at which people are willing to go to get what they want. As I said Martin's world is a cruel one but accurate considering he used 15th century England as the foundation on which he built his story.