Whatever respect they have or have not for Martin’s writings, Benioff and Weiss did decide to deviate a lot from the novels. And shortcomings emerged. Not surprisingly at all. Martin is capable of creating smart characters that remain smart even when making wrong choices; Benioff and Weiss are not; because of that, advantages that books have over the show are beyond counting.
But, here’s the list of some of the most significant things from the novels that were changed for TV:
- After leaving with Qhorin’s group, Jon fights for his life, not for his virginity. This difference is already explained in details in westeros.org review of the season 2 finale. If you haven’t read it, than just accept that, in the novels, Jon isn’t an idiot; nor is Qhorin; nor are wildlings.
- Catelyn Stark is not a bimbo. Some of her actions are deeply disturbing, no doubt, but they all came out of desperation, or fear, or rage, or grief, not from the stupidity.
- Robb Stark isn’t a male version of Paris Hilton. Really, he isn’t a guy more interested in partying than in protecting his family and his realm. In the novels he makes a mistake, not a sex scandal.
- Jaime is the real deal, a danger to real warriors; but not to Lannisters, he’s on their side.
- Arya’s the real deal, too. In the novels she really, really isn’t a glorified hotel worker. Each and every gift she possesses is challenged to its limits all the time, and she still manages to survive. She witnesses horrors that affect both hers and reader’s characters, but endures. Her journey was best described as a “medieval equivalent of Apocalypse Now”, as was written last year in some blog or something.
- Sansa never heard of the Stockholm syndrome. She actually doesn’t want to be a noble victim. She really tries to escape from the jaws of Lannisters. And she manages to do some good along the way.
- Sandor has a personality for more than few chapters (book equivalent of an episode). He becomes interesting early on in book one, and keeps getting more and more captivating as the story progresses. Better you know him, ruder he gets, but he somehow crawls under reader’s skin.
- […] Psychologically, Hound-Sansa relation is among the most compelling ones in the entire ASIOF world.
- Cersei is multidimensional, much more than in the TV series, despite what show-enthusiasts claim. You have to read a little more careful, but yeah, her dimensions are there.
- Bronn does suggest a solution for Joffrey situation, but his solution doesn’t involve hiring prostitutes, nor any sex at all. And Tyrion really likes Bronn’s solution. Oh boy, he likes it so much that he almost immediately stops thinking about it, fearing the temptation to actually heed Bronn’s suggestion.
Tyrion as a Hand actually had a work to do besides Shae. He’s like Michael Corleone in The Godfather after Vito was shot at: doing everything possible to save his family, despite not liking them nor their schemes that much.
- Most importantly: Tyrion, kid you not, didn’t forget about Stannis. Nor did anyone in King’s Landing forget about Stannis. While the war was raging in the second book, King’s Landing remained a capital everyone wants to conquer, and didn’t turn into a medieval model for nowadays Switzerland.
- Stannis isn’t Melisandre’s puppet. Their relationship is much more complicated, enigmatic and fascinating than what we saw at the war-table, in episode 12. Yes, she’s using him to some extent. He’s also using her to some extent. But they first and foremost respect one another. They’re not open books to each other, and especially not to their enemies, which they enjoy collecting even more than in the show.
- Geography does matter. People take time to travel. Armies take time to travel. Littlefinger takes time to move from one location to another, and he visits fewer locations to begin with.
- Daenerys’ arc in the second novel is unexpectedly brief, true that, but, contrary to what you may hear, it is quite eventful. There’s the Red Waste ordeal; there’s the House of the Undying adventure, sort of “Eyes wide shut” on steroids (what happens in HOTU, stays in HOTU, unless a mother of dragons burns it); and there’s dramatic attempt on her life. Not bad at all for just five chapters.
- There is a damn good reason why nobody tried to steel Daenerys’ dragons. Remember how, from the very beginning of the ASIOAF, everyone was praising the novels for treating the magic much smarter than great many other fantasy stories do? How pleased the readers were to find out that people of Westeros and Essos accept the unnatural the same way we would: they’re shocked, or afraid, or disgusted? Well, that’s it: of course nobody’s going to mess with a girl who gave birth to the first three dragons in centuries. Of course everyone’s going to think about it one more time. And of course people in Qarth, one of the most decadent cities around – not unlike decadent cities from our own history, some ten centuries ago – are pretending to be even beyond thinking about dragons. Makes perfect sense in Martin’s world, would make a lot of sense in our world (had something like dragons existed), and eliminates “madness… madness and stupidity” seen in the show.
- Dialogues are always sharp, always meaningful, always entertaining and occasionally hilarious. There’s a reason George R. R. Martin is considered a master of dialogues. And the reason is, most certainly, somehow connected to characters being skillfully developed. And to Martin being concerned with “smart side” of the readership, rather than with the “pervert side.”
- Everyone has a purpose in Martin’s story. Even Dontos.
- Characters do reappear in Martin’s story. Even Dontos. Even Ghost.
But, all that pales in comparison to the mother of all deviations. The change that very well may turn out to be jumping the shark moment for Game of Thrones. The liberty showrunners took, which singlehandedly destroyed all the respect for the main heroes, the Starks. It’s the decision to make false deaths of Bran and Rickon irrelevant not only for the audience, but also for the Seven kingdoms as well.
There is more at the link, much much more. I don’t agree with all of it, but I love it for having rigorous standards for the show. I love that it isn’t kissing the show’s ass. You all know by now how much I agree with this:
With all it’s entertainment virtues (overrated, but existing nevertheless), Game of Thrones will never be considered television masterpiece like The Wire, The Sopranos, and Breaking Bad were and are.
This show could’ve been so brilliant. I know I know, oh oh oh.
In last week’s Game of Thrones, Arya told Tywin Lannister that “most girls are stupid.” When we heard that line, were we supposed to think, “This is why Arya is awesome”? After watching The Prince of Winterfell, I can’t…
what lies ahead of us?
…perhaps a director who doesn’t use the same shot in every.single.scene. ? ;)
People who haven’t read the books:
People who have read the books:
Welcome to my life. I keep having to pause and give nasty side-eyes to my S.O. while explaining to him what’s going on EVERY EFFING TIME HE INTERRUPTS WITH A QUESTION.
I’ve got 19 threads on Westeros.org
But HBO gives me about 19 words to say?
Joffrey: Sir Ilyn, bring him my head.
What happens when ridiculously photogenic guy comes to Kings Landing.
I am jealous. And want to see. Especially as I’ll be away this weekend and won’t get to see it Sunday night :( :( :(
Feel bad for me and tell me how you’re doing it? Please?
Barry: You don’t want to go in front of that judge. I caught him in a drag club.
GOB: What were you doin’ there?
Barry: Wow. You should be the lawyer.
Motherboy XXX -2x13