So, this book wasn't as bad as I'd been led to believe. I think if you understand that 1. This book is a total setup and 2. This is just half of the story (the soon to be released Dances with Dragons is the second half), then it's not really so bad.
I have to admit that I didn't enjoy the fact that it focused more on King's Landing than the Wall (the wights and others are still what drive me to read more at this point), and the characters are still fleshed out, surprising, and incredibly multi-dimensional. I'm glad I didn't read it until "part 2" is about to come out, though, I think it would be annoying to try to remember what's going on after a 6 year hiatus.
Here's hoping GRRM doesn't continue his increasing time between novels.