The gratuitous use of rape, "whoring," and misogynistic action, attitudes, speech, and jokes gets old. I'm no prude, but GRRM needed to find some other literary techniques to establish the evil, cruel, or just flawed natures of his characters. Use some creativity rather than returning time and time again to having male characters rape or otherwise molest EVERY woman who can't protect herself. Combine that with the soft porn sex-scenes (some of which add something to the plot, but many don't), and I have the distinct feeling that GRRM is just pandering to his largest audience--young men. It cheapens the writing.
As noted by other reviewers, most men's voices are fine. Women's voices are pretty bad. He should have taken a more neutral tone with women, rather than have so many that sound like leprechauns. Also, in Book 1, Jaime Lannister sounded like a normal person, and then changed to leprechaun in Book 2. On top of the inconsistency, I don't think the new voice fit his character at all.
I still gave the story a 4 because overall, I did enjoy the storyline. GRMM has built a whole world, which is enjoyable to follow. I appreciate that even the 'good' characters are flawed and many 'bad' characters are somewhat sympathetic.
...No surprise though. The performance reaches the level of the story itself--a formidable feat. On to the next installment. My only regret is that I'm going to be caught up before the final volume is released...
Loved the story. Some of the character voices sounded similar. I was poisoned a bit to the voices by the HBO rendering, But it was still fantastic to hear.