Warning this post contains spoilers about the first two books and series.
I’m sure most of you have heard of Game of Thrones. It’s a TV series based upon the series of books by George R.R. Martin called ‘A song of ice and fire’. I firmly believe that if a book is going to be made into a film or series then the book is usually worth a read. So when I heard about the TV series I decided to read the books first. As a huge fan of fantasy novels they sounded right up my street. There are at present five books out of seven completed and available to buy. I finished the first book before watching the series and read the second book whilst watching the first series. There has been two seasons of Game of thrones one for each of the first two books. Here I’m going to try and compare the books and the TV series.
After finishing the first book I was hooked. I was eager to see the series do the character's I loved justice. as the plotline unfolded I was thrilled to see that the series was very true to the books. Here are some of the changes that I felt were most noticeable.
watching the show it was immediately obvious that certain areas lacked general background information. this is to be expected when trying to condense a magnificently detailed fictional world into ten hours of screenplay. in my opinion this was necessary and didn’t affect the quality of the show at all.
Another big change was the characters ages. The children were all a lot older in the series, probably due to some child pornography law. ( I think showing 13 year olds having sex would be frowned upon). The most disappointing change for me was with the Targaryen family. In the books the Targaryens have violet eyes a characteristic that was dropped from the show during early filming due to the contact lenses interfering with the acting. This was a shame as in the books Daenerys eyes were one of her most striking features and I was looking forward to seeing them.
Early on in the first season Lady (Sansa’s wolf) is executed, in the books Eddard Stark uses his great sword Ice so she can die like a true creature of The North. In the series he uses a dagger, this takes away from the respect Lord Eddard gave the wolf. I found this theme continued throughout the series. Unfortunately the wolves adopted more of a back seat, in contrast to the more major roles they were given in the books.
A small difference in the books that leads to a lot of little differences in the series is the fact that Shae, Tyrion’s prostitute is kept hidden in a house outside the city walls, not brought into the city like in the series. In the books Tyrion sneaks away to see her through passages that are hidden in a brothel in the city. Perhaps one of the biggest differences in the series is Robb's story, In the series Robb meets Lady Talisa healing a man after a battle. She becomes his love interest and they ultimately marry. In the books Robb returns from a battle married to Lady Jeyne a highborn girl who took care of him after he was injured in a battle. I am personally fine with more naked Robb screen time than in the books as Richard Madden is pretty gorgeous.
Another story that is a lot different in the books is Arya's, in the series she becomes lord Tywin’s cupbearer at Harrenhal. Even though this does not happen in the books this pairing was something that I very much enjoyed. Subsequently a lot of what happens with Arya at Harrenhal is different than in the books nevertheless her story eventually matches up. A further difference In the books Jon snow just lets Ygritte go and carries on with his brothers until they are ambushed by her and some other wildlings. He then kills Quorin Halfhand after he has instructed him to do whatever it takes to prove to the wildlings he will be loyal to them. I don’t know why they have changed Jon’s story line so much; it was a bit pointless and unnecessary. Although I have suspicions it was to involve the yummy Kit Harrington in some softcore sex scenes to please us girls.
One of the most unnecessary changes in the series was with Daenerys’. Her dragons are not kidnapped in the books, she ventures into the house of the undying to find answers of her own accord. Nor was she betrayed by Xaro, hence the scenes where she locks him in the vault and loots his house also don’t happen. I don’t quite understand why they did this, maybe it was to make the storyline a bit more exciting but personally I don’t think it needed it. Possibly one of the most vital changes in the series was with Tyrion. In the books Tyrion has his whole nose cut off at the battle of the Blackwater. Understandably this would be difficult to reproduce in the series for each time we see Tyrion so instead he just receives a gash across the side of his face. Much more manageable for the make-up artists.
All in all the TV show remains very true to the books, especially the first series, where often lines are transferred directly from book to TV. However as the series progressed more dissimilarities starting creeping in. Most of the alterations were necessary when translating from book to screen. The books are told through the eyes of a handful of characters therefore certain scenes in the show cannot be in the book. In my opinion the extra scenes that were added complemented the series perfectly, I loved seeing more of Littlefinger who was not a point of view character in the book.
Even though there are some small deviations all the main story lines have remained true. The TV series is unquestionably a stand-alone series in its own right. I relished both the books and the series but I would also endorse both of them on their own merits. I would happily recommend both but I think if I had to pick one my inner bookworm would win and I'd choose the books.
I know this was a pretty wordy post my I hope you enjoyed it. I cannot wait until March when the third series comes back to our screens.
Lots of Love