What is it that has enabled George to captivate readers in so many different fields? What qualities are there about George’s work that ensnares readers, no matter what kind of story he’s telling?
For one thing, George has always been a richly romantic writer. Dry minimalism or the cooly ironic games of postmodernism so beloved by many modern writers and critics are not what you’re going to get when you open something by George R. R. Martin. What you’re going to get instead is a strongly-plotted story driven by emotional conflict and crafted by someone who’s a natural-born storyteller, a story that grabs you on the first page and refuses to let go.
You’re going to get adventure, action, conflict, romance, and lush, vivid human emotion: obsessive, doomed love, stark undying hatred, unquenchable desire, dedication to duty even in the face of death, unexpected veins of rich humor … and something that’s rare even in science fiction and fantasy these days (let alone the mainstream) - a love of adventure for adventure’s sake, a delighting in the strange and colorful, bizarre plants and animals, exotic scenery, strange lands, strange customs, stranger people, backed by the inexhaustible desire to see what’s over the next hill, or waiting on the next world. […]
The most important reason, though, why so many readers are affected so strongly by George’s work, is the people. George has created a gallery of vivid characters - sometimes touching, some¬times grotesque, sometimes touching and grotesque - unmatched by most other writers […]
George cares deeply about all of his people, even the spearcarriers, even the villains - and by caring so deeply, he makes you care for them as well. Once you’ve mastered this magic trick, you don’t really need another. […] And it is the thing that ensures that, no matter what field he chooses to work in, people will read him - and want to read him again.
–Gardner Dozois, Introduction to Dreamsongs, Vol. 1 by George R.R. Martin