I read the first book out loud to Meesto over many evenings. I read it out loud without having read it to myself first or having seen the TV show. My impressions were basically this:
Well, this is rather exciting, what fun world building, these characters are great. Hmmm, this author has issues peeking out from behind his writing. Love these characters. OMG weird sexual issues like whoa! Wait, why are these characters so stupid. Maybe he's trying to illustrate misogyny in a medieval society? What lovely world-building. These action scenes rock. No, he's totally got some weird sex issues. Oh look at all the characters dead so far. Wow, my favorite characters are totally gonna die next book. What lovely world-building. I wonder how long it will take until everyone gets burnt to a crisp and eaten.
Then we watched the first season of the show on DVD. My impressions were this:
Well, this is rather exciting, what fun world building, these characters are great. Did you notice how when Theon pulled his dick out of that whore how his dick was all soft and dry, I don't think it works like that, Theon. What lovely costume design. These characters are stupid, except for Syrio who is the best thing ever. WOW they're highlighting the weird sexual issues to make them the focus of the story. What the shit is this, they have slaughtered Drogo's big awesome love scene and his characterization and instead made him a rapist in this show? Whyyyyyy???? What lovely costume design. I don't remember this many whores being in the book. I don't remember this much misogyny in the book. Well, you're a red shirt, aren't you. Ned Stark, you are such a dumb ass. What lovely costume design. Look more people having crappy sex, again. Castles are awesome. Wow, these issues, how huge and shiny they are! What lovely world-building. Hmmm, yet more whores. What lovely costume design. Arya and Tyrion rock. I wonder how long it will take until everyone gets burnt to a crisp and eaten.
I am now half way through reading the second book. Don't spoil me for it. The upcoming doom of being burnt to a crisp and eaten can't come soon enough.
But I gotta say, I have never had the experience of 'the book is better' in quite this way.