The deus ex machina is quite possibly one of my biggest pet peeves. Hate it. Good to know Martin isn't a fan either. I have heard good about that series as well. Maybe it's time.
And a small side rant about length in F/SF genres. Again. It's pretty common knowledge F/SF supports (and even needs) a little more length to get the job done. The world building usually demands it, at least to some extent. You can't just plop characters down in Middle Earth or The Matrix and expect the reader to understand what's going on in the world, what's important, what's different than expected, and what the key elements that affect plot are. So you have to explain it. Hopefully as painlessly, and with as little an "infodump" as possible.
Problem is, writers tend to take this to extremes, especially newer ones. They see these great tomes like The Stand, and The Lord of the Rings, and GoT and WoT, and think a F/SF story can't start out right until they've spent a proper amount of time world building, which of course is boring as whale shit, and half as useful. It's that phenomenon that ruins a lot of F/SF novels, and makes folks shy away from reading new ones from authors they aren't yet familiar with. This, coupled with "diarrhea of the pen" as I've heard it called, makes F/SF novels far too verbose.
Some writers tend to write long, while others write short. Editing makes their work the correct size, either slimming things down or fattening them up. When someone writes short and doesn't edit enough, it usually doesn't make the cut as a novel. When someone writes too long and doesn't edit enough, these massive wordy tomes are the result. So in short, I'd say it's more on the editing than the writing for these series, whether self-editing or at the point in the process where a professional editor needed to suggest cuts and either didn't or was overruled/ignored. The part about keeping characters alive, no matter how many clichés and instances of deus ex machina one needs to employ, is simply bad writing.
World Champion Seattle Seahawks football. It's an addiction, and there is no cure.
Les Norton - gone but never forgotten. Rest in blue and green peace, my friend.