Monday, 27 April 2015

Game of Thrones VS A Song of Ice and Fire.

I've been battling my own denial about the HBO series Game of Thrones catching up to and overtaking A Song of Ice and Fire (the books). But, since the arrival of HBO's fifth season I've had to face my fears. It's now been confirmed by the makers themselves that the television series will meet the end well before the books.

What conclusions am I formulating about this first world dilemma? Obviously, David Benioff and DB Weiss are going to have to create more of the detail and fabric of the story than they have so far. I largely trust them to do it justice. I think they've done a super job in translating this epic to the screen. But I do remain somewhat cautious.

It's been my opinion since the first season, that the number one reason I enjoy the television series is because Benioff and Weiss have remained so faithful to the books. And, in my little corner of the world, this opinion is largely shared (by fellow book nerds, anyway). Is this the reason why the series has been so successful overall? One might argue that great swarms who've never picked up any of the books have jumped on to the 'Game of Thrones' fan wagon anyway. In fact, there seems to be a bit of a new divide in society - the 'have reads' and the 'have not reads' and the division disagreements between the two are growing. But, is it because of the close adherence to the original story, the fact that they have so accurately translated the settings, characters, magic, and intrigue from the books, is this the real secret of the television success? And what does this mean for the future of the HBO series?

Before we go forward, let us go back - yeah, just like Daenerys.

There's no denying there have been many differences between the books and the TV series from Season One to now. A quick google search will bring them up, or if you really want the nitty gritty, here's a good place to see the season by season discrepancies. For the most part, I've appreciated those differences as interesting additions or changes that work well on the screen, but never greatly digress from the story in the books.

Flipping through the beautiful and new companion, The World of Ice and Fire Official History made me more aware of some of the visual discrepancies between the books (as imagined by the author) and the television series.  I was reminded, for example that the iron throne looked less like this:

And more like this:

Many places are different too. Dragonstone in GoTs:

Compared to the Official History:

There's no denying Benioff and Weiss have done an excellent job with everything so far. But the first few episodes of Season Five have seen more dramatic differences from the books come into play. Large chunks of storylines have been entirely left out with Tyrion and Arya - and also Mance - what about the child he has in the books? And there have been major changes and additions to the plot lines of other characters - Sansa, Brienne and Jamie Lannister are all doing things that are just not done in the books (well, yet anyway).

While I still enjoy the television version (hell, I love it!), I do find myself vocalising the typical  criticism of book nerds everywhere, "that doesn't happen in the books" more often in this series than any other - much to the annoyance of my 'haven't read' partner. And that's when I realised that, for me, a lot of the joy in watching this series is to see the books play out. So perhaps I am enjoying it a little less than usual. And there are still two more books to 'cover' in the television series. What happens when they have really 'caught up'. Will the changes be even more dramatic? Well, I guess we won't know until the long awaited Winds of Winter is released. Needless to say, what about all the spoilers to come?

There's one part of the television series that continues to be portrayed exceptionally well, in my opinion. Those dragons:

And while I'm confident the TV series will continue to please me (let me reiterate, Benioff and Weiss have done a brilliant job) I'll keep watching just for those dragons if nothing else.


  1. Great article.
    you will find not many people have read the book from which a TV series is based.
    Love Borderlands, when is the next book coming, or are you following "George RR's" timline for publishing!