I'm speeding through adwd on my new (yellow!) kindle and I have /thoughts/ 1) I miss sansa and Sandor 2) bran annoys me I wish he didn't but he does 3) poor Jon someone protect this BOY 4) I love Davos 5) Tyrion is the first time I understand the term problematic fav 6) I think one of the things that really sets asoiaf apart from other fantasy series' is the lack of Christianity like its there ofc but not drenched in it for once and I feel more... Welcome
2) I personally love Bran and his POV, but sometimes you can see GRRM struggling with writing a character that young. He even lampshades it a bit with the first Bran chapter in ADWD opening with “Are we there yet?”, the quintessential whine of children on a roadtrip. (Though to Bran’s credit, he keeps it within his own thoughts, as well as suffering in silence in general.) But please stick with him – ADWD Bran II is amazing, and Bran III is simply transcendental, one of my favorite chapters on a literary level in all of the books.
3) FWIW, I did not spend all of Jon’s ADWD chapters going “oh dear god, please stop, no, don’t” the way I did with ADWD Tyrion’s, or in my reread of ACOK Theon. (Oh, Theon.) That will probably change whenever I do my full reread.
5) Oh, yes. Sigh. Still a favorite, though!
6) Yeah, high fantasy series set in worlds without Christianity can be pretty welcoming that way? I mean, the Faith of the Seven is a total Catholic Church expy, but it’s not Christian. You don’t get the very turnoffy aspects you get in, say, Ivanhoe. (Or Narnia, of course, but for me at least I totally missed the whole Jesuslion thing the first time I read TLTWATW, being a very sheltered kid and having no reference for it. Years later, after I learned about the crucifixion etc, that’s when I went… ohhhh, I get it now.) Mind you, there’s no real Judaism expy in ASOIAF either. (Some consider Petyr Baelish to be somewhat Jewish-coded, but that’s more in the sense of stereotypes and anti-Semitic caricatures, nothing to do with the religion. And others see the Starks/Old Gods as Jewish, but to me they read very very Celtic/pagan, as GRRM wrote them. The difference may be ‘cos I’m ffb, idk, I get hung up on religious practice and philosophy rather than cultural motifs when thinking about “Jewish things”, probably.)
BTW, if you want to see a really well worldbuilt religion that isn’t an expy of anything in particular at all, I will once again rec Lois McMaster Bujold’s World of the Five Gods. And I don’t know if you’ve ever read Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, but in most of the books religion is not a thing as such, and Omnianism (the Christianity expy) when introduced is handled extremely well in one of my favorite books ever about the concept of faith and gods, and well, please read Discworld. :)