Yes, the writer seemingly loves to inflict pain on his readers by killing off every character you love, hate, see, hear about, glance at, or otherwise enters into his realm of wintry death. However, I really do mean satirist not sadist. That wasn’t an autocorrect fail.
You may love A Song of Ice and Fire, you may hate Game of Thrones, but you have to admit, it’s popular. Sure, it’s marketed as realist fantasy. A gritty portrayal of medieval life with fantastic elements of magic, mythical creatures, and
boobs courtly life.
I think, however, that Mr. Martin writes his own brand of satire aimed at the classic Arthurian mythos [not like Monty Python’s version]. He’s right up there with Cervantes [who wrote Don Quixote] as a satirist of chivalry. Honestly, A Storm of Swords has a pretty great poop joke (a character dies, obviously); so, to me, this clearly falls into the realm of satire.
Each has incest [many consensual moments vs. one uniformed moment]), battles, knights who uphold chivalry [though few in GoT (usually, they die)] and who disdain it [few in King Arthur (usually, they die)]. A mysterious land beyond a barrier (the Wall versus mist) home to dangers and magic beyond mortal understanding.
In GoT, magic, and to an extent religion, are dark things. Not just mysterious, but treacherous and deadly. In the Arthurian sagas, magic more often helps the heroic knight and religion, especially in the later retellings, is something to strive for and quest after.
We’re all well aware that the end will just be a bloody snow covered field. But, how they and we get there is the everlasting question.
Though, I’m not certain if I like Game of Thrones more or less after looking at it as a satire on my childhood heroes. One thing is clear, it will endure at least until the final book is penned. And perhaps future generations will read it alongside King Arthur or even in place of him and his Knights of the Round Table.