Before I begin, I just want to say that if anyone reads the title of this post, and thinks that I am NOT going to talk about things that may be spoilers for those who have not read the books, you are just… dumb. It is not my intent to be a big meanie who spoils everything for all those people who have not read the books but are devoted fans of the HBO series. But come on, these books have been out for years, and the TV show is now in its fourth year. You should probably just go read the books, or else stay off the internet. Otherwise, perhaps you should consider staying in a monastery or becoming Amish or doing something to keep away from the internet and popular culture. ASOIAF/GoT are so hugely popular and widespread at this point, it’s everywhere. It’s in magazines at my doctor’s office and on t-shirts of people walking down the street. It’s almost like saying you didn’t watch the 2007 World Series and you don’t want to know how it ends before you can watch it, even though you live in Boston. Or not knowing the ship sinks in Titanic but getting mad at someone who mentions it. We are rapidly reaching a level of patent absurdity when it comes to these spoiler issues. I just refuse to say “spoiler alert” everything time I talk about ASOIAF or GoT. So this is the last time.
So if you want to have a freakout about that sort of thing, GO READ SOMETHING ELSE. If you can’t think of anything, I can probably offer some suggestions. But ultimately, those who wish to avoid spoilers should assume some responsibility for themselves and stop insisting the whole world police itself for their benefit.
Anyway, on with the discussion.
So yes. The books and the show.
First, a few things I need to get off my chest. I love the show and I love the books, and I do not expect the show to do everything exactly like the books. It’s just impossible. We are talking about thousands of pages here. Even with each book taking at least a season (two seasons in the case of book 3, A Storm of Swords) it is just impossible to try to cram everything into a few hours of television. It can’t be done. And since there are inevitably some things that get left out, this in turn means that other things must also be left out. And many of the minor characters are either left out entirely or have their actions lumped together into an existing character. Some things are streamlined. The “perfectionists” who wish to see things done word for word are just unrealistic. They are two different formats, two completely different media, in which a single vastly descriptive page or two can take up a lot of time on camera.
Still, people are frequently disappointed with one thing or another. But I can honestly say I am quite pleased in general with how the creators of the series have done the show. I think they have done an amazing job. Sure, there are some little things I would like for them to have done differently, but overall, it is pretty damn awesome. As an example, tonight’s episode (Season 4 Episode 3, Breaker of Chains) followed events in the book almost exactly as I remember them, with a few slight variations based on the elimination of some minor characters. Otherwise they were just about the same.
Now, if I was to pick one thing I wish they had done differently, it would be this: the introduction of the other Northern lords in Season One. We get to know Lord Jon Umber, the “Greatjon”, reasonably well, and since his character is one of my favorite minor characters in the book I paid close attention to Clive Mantle , the actor who played him in Season One. I thought he did a hell of an awesome job. So imagine my surprise when, starting in Season Two, he is suddenly gone, along with some other minor characters that were shown briefly in the series but not really fleshed out, like Galbart Glover and Maege Mormont (one of my other favorite minor characters). But now that we have seen the Red Wedding, I suppose it makes a little more sense. In the books, the Greatjon is actually captured at the Red Wedding, and his house is forced to bend the knee to the Boltons as a result. But I guess it is easier to just show everyone getting wiped out than to try to show how some people may have survived. Of course, the Blackfish and Edmure Tully survive, but neither of them were present when the actual killing started. And I would have loved to see the Greatjon drink everyone under the table (as he does in the book) and then kick a lot of ass before they take him as a prisoner. Oh well.
In the book, Ser Manderly is killed by a crossbow bolt to the mouth. And thus in the TV show….
There are few times I have ever literally stood and cheered while reading a book, but when I read Book Five, A Dance With Dragons, I cheered some of the awesome things said and done by the Manderlys. I do hope they cast someone good for Lord Manderly, as his role in Book Five is quite important. And I do hope they at least mention that Ser Wendel was killed at the Red Wedding. It would make the whole “The North Remembers” speech much more meaningful, in my opinion. Since this past episode they already spoke of the Freys and how they had violated guest rights, it would seem to feed right into that.
It’s enough to make me want some pie. Heh, heh, heh.