where has the real Game of Thrones gone?

THROUGH THE kindness of a work colleague who has access, I’m watching the white-hot Season 5 of Game of Thrones (albeit on a delayed basis).  Each season is a revelation, especially with the recognition that this may be the second to the last season of the ground-breaking, genre-smashing fantasy series that may never be replicated again, on a par with Lord of The Rings, Star Wars and Star Trek.  It’s that good.  Even with a superlative comparing him as the American Tolkien, series creator George R.R. Martin does not and continues not to disappoint.

If you’re like me, and millions of other fans, you have your personal favorites, but easily the character you simply know will see it through the last episode of the last season (whenever that is) is Tyrion Lannister, a.k.a. The Imp.  The reasons for this are far and wide, suffice it to say that he has the best of both worlds, the bad guy you love or the good guy you hate.  You can’t even decide if he’s one of the good guys or bad (he’s neither — there are no good guys or bad guys in westeros).  He always has the best lines, he gets paired with the best guy or gal as foil to his acid wit, and there is never a boring moment with him.  All of which practically assure that, supported by the world-class acting of Peter Dinklage, his character will never disappear.

The problem with my viewing and my being a Tyrion Lannister fan is, I’m also reading the books, Books 1 through 5 of A Song of Ice and Fire, on which the HBO Game of Thrones series used to be faithfully based.  I say used to be because it’s finally happened:  the show is no longer an accurate representation of the books.  Let me explain.

Between 30 to 50 pages narrating The Imp’s travels out of Westeros on his way to Mereen have been omitted in the show.  Shortening or abridging story arcs or storylines is not unusual in GoT; sometimes it’s done to save time, or highlight more important events to show (there are after all only 10 episodes each season).  It’s only a bit blatant to me here because Tyrion is such an important character.

But there are other alterations. In the book, the King Beyond The Wall survives, through magic, an execution attempt, I don’t see this happening on the show.  And probably most glaring, a marriage of convenience for one of the most evil characters, Ramsey Bolton, to a fake Arya Stark is changed into an actual match between Ramsey and Sansa Stark (the real Arya’s sister), which actually makes sense (according to the peculiar logic of the show) but renders the show almost irrecognizable from the original plot.  Sayang (too bad).

I hope you don’t misunderstand; I continue to enjoy the show and by most standards it is still a faithful retelling of the George Martin’s masterpiece.  But there are at least two questions that need asking :

There will be at least one more season (Season 6) of Game of Thrones based on the current five books.  If ever Martin writes or finishes a sixth book, how will this affect plotlines that have already been altered?  What I mean is, will the HBO producers try to readjust their storylines or stay their own (altered) course?

If you’re watching the series and (like many) are inspired to read the books, or vice versa, what’s the motivation for still doing so, knowing that the main characters in the series won’t end up the way they did in the book?  In short, the two works are already different from each other.  They’re still brilliant, once-in-a-generation works of art.  Only, the TV series can no longer claim to be a faithful adaptation of the books.

Thanks for reading!


8 thoughts on “where has the real Game of Thrones gone?

  1. I’ve missed the past couple of seasons, i’m trying desperately to catch up. i have not read a single page of the books. but like you i’m a huge fan of the series. One thing to note however, the series can never be completely faithful to the books for the simple reason they’re two different mediums. Producers can only ‘attempt’ to recreate the universe created by Martin. Likewise there were also a ton of omissions in the LOTR series.

  2. The very successful novel to film series written by John Grisham for example can never be faithfully put to film exactly the way it was written. Not unless you want to watch people xeroxing and faxing for 3 hours, which was central in Grisham’s novels in duplicating documents as evidence. the thing was Grisham himself was made consultant to the film, just like Martin was with the production of HBO GOT from day one. The novellist’s or creator’s mind was very much a part of the screenplay/teleplay to know where its going and will end up in spirit will be faithful to the books.

  3. Producers are washing their hands so to speak when they have the creators on board. the novellists in turn are paid more than enough. the rights must be astronomical to these bestsellers. You should get started on that sci fi fantasy novel! hahaha then you could not only be a best selling author but a million dollar consultant to the tv movie! hahaha

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