It took me a while to actually get into the book, but I liked it more at the end than near the beginning. Honestly, I would have been fine if all the action just stayed on the Wall.
I liked Tyrion the most, probably because his character seemed the most developed. Most of the characters were cliches...some were rather dull. However, there was a lot of action throughout the book and it kept the pace flowing. In that respect, there wasn't a good amount of explaining and I got rather lost trying to figure out all of the minor characters who kept popping out of nowhere.
I was surprised by the deaths...especially the one who was killed by the his/her own kin, to not give away spoilers. There could have been great drama with this character! More than with some of the boring old Starks.
Anyway, there are a lot of plots and relationships in the novel, which made it a worthwhile read to me. I love a novel that doesn't let you know everything until the end (if at all). I will read the sequel, no doubt.