Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire (Spoilers Hidden)

I know that there are a few fans of Game of Thrones here, so I thought I’d make a topic to discuss the first six seasons and the book series that it’s based on. However, I want to keep this topic accessible for those who have not watched Game of Thrones or read A Song of Ice and Fire; please use [spoiler][/spoiler] tags for those who have not watched or read the respective material.

The Books

George R.R. Martin is my favourite author and A Song of Ice and Fire is my favourite book series. I’ve read all the books, as well as the prequel collection Knight of the Seven Kingdoms and the two short novellas, The Princess and the Queen and The Rogue Prince. In fact, I’ve read every novel that Martin has written. Who else has the read Martin’s work and which books?

For those unfamilar with Martin’s work, A Song of Ice of Fire is particularly noteworthy for subversion standard fantasy tropes and it’s gritty, medieval inspired world where no character is safe. If you’ve read A Song of Ice and Fire, Fevre Dream is his next best novel, a tale about vampires which raises interesting questions about the morality of their actions. I also highly recommend Martin’s thought provoking novella ‘A Song for Lya’.

The Show

I also really enjoyed the first four seasons of Game of Thrones. From season 5 onwards, I felt that the quality started to decline, for a number of reasons, but mostly because the stories began to feel more contrived as the writers began the invent their own stories, stories more about shock value and getting the characters where they need to be, rather than because it makes realistic or narrative sense. Don’t let that put you off watching the show though, it’s still overall the best epic fantasy on television, and the most recent series had some of the best scenes in the series, but the books are definitely better. This is a rare case where the show is now ahead (chronologically) where the books are up to, so the writers had no choice but to devise some stories of their own. Also books 4 and 5 were slower paced so wouldn’t have been a good fit for television. I think what the show is really good at is moments, so the fact that seasons 7 and 8 will be shorter gives me hope that they’ll be able to produce more focused end story with some amazing scenes that will send the series out with a bang.

My predictions for season 7:

  • Daenerys will become more of villain character. Martin is known for subverting the reader’s expectations around and there are hints that she is inheriting her fathers madness going all the way back to season 1. Whether she will overcome this, I don’t know.
  • Bringing the Dothraki to Westeros will not be good for the people of Westeros. Daenerys may not be able to control them, or may not care if she thinks the means justify the ends. Since Martin’s story is one that shows the problems caused by war, and Daenerys is being portrayed as a conqueror, I can’t see her invasion being painted in a positive light.
  • Jamie will kill Cersei. He stabbed the mad king in the back for burning people with wildfire and that look he gave her at the end of season 6 is not a happy one.
  • Littlefinger will rise higher. I feel that we haven’t seen the worst of Petyr Baelish yet; he may side with Cersei in an upcoming battle or attempt to drive a wedge between Jon and Sansa.
  • The threat of the White Walkers will continue to be ignored by the majority of Westeros until season 8.

Video Games

I played through Season 1 of the Telltale series. The story isn’t exactly a masterpiece, a little too inspired by the show’s story that it’s based on, but focused on a smaller house loyal to the Starks. But if you want more Game of Thrones to tide you over until the next TV season, the Telltale series is the next best thing. Lots of cameos from the main story’s characters, portrayed by the same actors. Since I’m a big fan of this world, I’ll likely play Season 2 and beyond.

The other game I tried was an action RPG called Game of Thrones, released in 2012 for seventh generation consoles and PC. I would not recommend it though.

I stopped watching this show mainly because it is no longer true to the books.

Maybe I expected too much.

Just thinking about it makes me angry,

But I don’t have the time or the inclination to go into detail.

A large part of the problem is that there are no longer any books to stay true to. Martin describes himself as a Gardener rather than an Architect. He knows what the ending is and where the main characters will end up, but many of the details that happen in between have yet to be finalised; they grow in the writing process. We likely won’t see the final book until at least 2020 and they can’t put the series on hold in the meantime.

After Martin finishes the series, I wonder if someone will attempt to adapt the complete A Song of Ice and Fire into a live action series. Books 4 and 5 will still remain
difficult to adapt, but it would help if the writers had a clearer idea of where characters like Aegon and Lady Stoneheart will end up. The Game of Thrones writers had to cut a lot of characters as it would be difficult to write for characters with no clear arc.

Let me put it this way: there were ways the show could have remained truer to the books, but didn’t.

But it’s fine. I can only imagine the disappointment many book readers must have felt. They have been fans for decades, it’s finally adapted, then key elements are remade in someone else’s image.

It is as if someone took over someone else’s story and changed characters they didn’t like.

It’s not something I have to accept. I suppose there are certain realities we have to face when making a TV show. I don’t own the IP, so I’m not going to take my criticism too far. I simply won’t watch the show.

I loved the White Walkers when we first saw them in the show though. They were dark and mysterious and unstoppable. Almost like shadows come to life. Then they turned into zombies, although the one Sam killed redeemed itself by seeming more heavy, thunderous and imposing. Then the whitewalkers became more ethereal which is more true to their book selves. I guess zombies rule the day, as they say.

I consider myself a fan of the series, having started reading the series quite some time before the show came out. I still remember my excitment after finishing the first book, A Game of Thrones, and rushing out to buy the next book to find out what would happen next. That doesn’t happen to me often with books. When Dance with Dragons came out it was snowing that day and I literally battled the winds of winter to pick up my copy on the day. The first season of the show was great for book readers too, it literally brought the book to life. Ever since, subsequent seasons have moved further away from the source material, so that it’s now really a seperate story (that will probably still hit the same main plot points). You can either go along with that or abandon the show entirely; I prefer to treat it as it’s own thing.

What interests me more than whether a character is true to the books is whether the changes to the character make sense within this alternative narrative. I think depends, and should be treated on a case by case basis. I can think of several changes where the character’s motivations were changed fundementially and those motivations were inconsistent with the characters previous behaviour. In particular, Sansa’s decision to willingly put herself in a situation where she would have to marry the son of the man who murdered her brother is completely inconsistent with the motivations of a character who had spent so long trying to escape her enemies.

Other changes simply made characters more black and white in the show, a simplification which can sometimes help make the viewer understand a character better in a short amount of screentime. One example of this is Stannis choosing to sacrifice his daughter. Stannis had been burning people in the name of his faith since the start of the show, and this represented the peak and logical conclusion to his arc. His is essentially the story of Abraham and Isaac, but with no one to stay his hand; Game of Thrones isn’t that kind of story. Stannis’ story is one of putting belief ahead of the ones you love, almost the opposite of Jamie’s “the things I do for love”. I’m less concerned about these character changes, particularly if they’re for secondary characters, if that gives viewers a more consistent representation of characters in their brief time on the show.

Flaws aside, I think Seasons 7 and 8 should be interesting. Even though the show will spoil the ending of A Song of Ice and Fire, I hope that there will be a few surprises left for book readers.

I understand changing a story to reflect a different audience, but for anyone who did want a show as true to the source material as possible, they might not ever see it now.

I guess I just thought the source material could be extremely popular on its own. I understand why the changes were made anyway. I don’t want to go indepth.

What did annoy me about last season though is that we saw the Battle of Winterfel with Jon and not book Stannis. That battle has been building up for a long time and they just pass it onto Jon. Stannis had Northern allies. The politics in the north were far more complex in the books than the show. The Boltens can’t command loyalty without fear, for example. There were no Northern armies left that could stop them. That hopelessness was lost in the show.

But hey, that’s life. I don’t consider the show to be an alternative timeline. Too much has fundamentally changed for it to be considered that, IMO.

I’ve just added spoiler tags to your post for the sake of any who might be reading who haven’t consumed the source material.

Regarding the Battle of Winterfell, it remains to be seen whether Stannis will defeat the Boltons in The Winds of Winter. Like Show Stannis, Book Stannis was also having a lot of trouble getting to the castle. You could be right, and Stannis wins the battle, but there could also be another battle after Stannis’ defeat where Jon attacks Winterfell to save (who he thinks is) Arya. Littlefinger assisting in the battle could happen as well; Book Sansa’s present location is still the Eyrie after all. We shall see. It could be that Melisandre burning Shireen (at the wall) successfully clears the snow, allowing Stannis to live to fight another day (against the Others). We shall see. I have a feeling that his days are numbered regardless.

I think we lost the chance of an adaption true to the source material as soon as the show overtook the books.

Perhaps, but regarding your earlier post about characters being out of character, we can make a case for that there. Book Stannis and show Stannis are not the same person. He deserves to die with dignity at least.

Book fans have made this case already.

My problem with the show is he should still be alive, uniting the north. The just things Stannis did were forgotten (Claw Isle, sparing many Wildings), and it’s physically impossible for him to burn Shireen, since she’s at the wall. Stannis didn’t have sell swords. He had loyal men. The show portrayed him as someone very unlikeable.

I think overall, this was the show creators’ attempt to rush a story to prioritize more supposedly popular characters.

You think Trump isn’t popular? Apparently they were told Shireen burns, but George never said who did it.

So I won’t accept the show. It’s prioritizing characters to appease a certain audience IMO.

Also, what men would Jon rally who aren’t with Stannis? They are mostly dead. It’s impossible to regrow thousands of fighting men in a few years.

So maybe it will happen the same way or in a similar way, only slower with more indepth plots, but I have a point.

This discussion was marked as spoilers hidden in the topic title; can you please add spoiler tags in future? Thanks. I’ve edited your post to include them.

I understand your general point here. The show changed characters and events. My point was that, within the context of the show’s storyline, some characters may or may not remain true to their character in the show. If we consider the show’s story as a closed entity, a character’s actions may be internally consistent, even if unlikeable or inconsistent with their book counterpart.

It’s like the legends of Robin Hood or King Arthur. There are so many variations of those stories and the character, it can be difficult to compare the stories directly. But we can look at what makes sense within each version of the story. I hope that A Song of Ice and Fire gets many more adaptions in the future, and perhaps one of those will be more faithful to the source material.

What you are saying is we have to accept fan fiction for what it is.

I won’t.

Also, it’s fine. I’m done with this discussion and the show.

Edit: Sorry, I should have tagged those spoilers.