Talk about being gobsmacked!
Not only once, but repeatedly, George R.R. Martin refuses to play by conventional rules when writing his “A Song of Ice and Fire” series (of which Game of Thrones is the first volume and the best known title of the series). The most obvious – and most ballyhooed – aspect of this unconventional approach to his major work is his penchant for killing off major (and beloved) characters. In an effort to mitigate spoilers I’ll not mention specifics but believe me, the advice of “don’t get attached to anyone” is apt.
But Martin is a master at keeping the reader second guessing in multiple ways. What I particularly appreciate is how he can turn a totally despicable character into someone that is redeemable, or reveals weaknesses in those that seem most admirable. Then he turns around and makes you doubt that you understand that character at all. Blurring the lines between black and white – not in creating grays, but in making you wonder which color is the true one – is something that is often attempted but is seldom successful… but man, is George R.R. Martin successful!