I first read A Game of Thrones in the summer of 1998.
I was 17.
I found myself wholly fixed in the mindset of House Stark, and its associated sympathetic characters. I was drawn into their point of view so strongly, and so completely, that when Cat seized Tyrion, I saw it as justice.
This almost blind cognitive loyalty to House Stark continued up to to end of Storm of Swords.
Then, sometime between finishing reading Storm and picking up Fear for Crows (which I did the day it was released, as I have for every book after the first), something changed. I found myself reading, not from the point of sympathy of the Starks, but from a broader perspective. I stopped seeing the series as a story about characters, and started seeing it as a story about the world.
One could argue that with so few Starks left, that this change was a necessity, and maybe it was, but I still find it's consequence interesting:
While there are some character whom I feel more sympathy more than others, I am no longer "rooting" for them. I am no longer on any "side," save that of "The Others really shouldn't win."
This has enabled me to understand other characters far better than I used to, and get a better view of just how rich and living a world George has created.
I was wondering if anyone has had a similar experience?