In general, I'm not not a fan AT ALL of the deviations they've made from the book. I understand why, but I don't like it.
Meh. Some deviations I completely understand, and even relish in (Tywin and Arya, for example). Others have me scratching my head (Robb Stark and what's-her-fuck. Also, Reek.)
All in all, I think it's still compelling drama and pretty fucking good television. The book cannot be translated properly (as most books because it's a different medium) and there's a lot of stuff that isn't necessary for the plot but necessary for the atmosphere in the books. I think they're doing a completely fair job of adapting something that is pretty impossible to adapt in a visual medium. As a TV show it works pretty fucking well. It has a good balance of entertainment for those who have not read the books and those who have not. The deviations are a product of some of that.
Not to start shit but considering you've missed so much of the show, do you think your opinion on the show is a fair one or just fan-boy nitpicking? The reason why I ask is I think a lot of the power of the episode "Blackwater" is the set-up from the previous seven episodes. Like the books.
I mean, is the dragon's size really all that pertinent considering they don't become really formidable until book 5?
And we'll see the Reeds in the next season. And Ramsay, probably. They didn't have them in this season, imo, they didn't know if they were going to be picked up for a third season. So why introduce ANOTHER character when you've already overloaded what a normal television audience is used to as far as an ensemble to follow.