Martin, a former story editor and producer for "The Twilight Zone," knows how to give his characters layers and complex motivations. While ostensibly fantasy, the Song of Ice and Fire books (particularly the first couple), tend to the Shakespearean in scope and theme. They feature messy, violent politics, Tudor vs. Plantagenet-style, rather than twee fairytaling around the countryside. Oh, and there's a lot of sex.
At the heart of this is what Raph calls the Pixar lesson, namely that story deserves respect, as does the audience. Amen.