Well, the brilliant “Game Of Thrones” is obviously over for another season, and we enter the long, tortuous wait for its return next year. Unfortunately for many fans, when it does return they probably won’t see a highly anticipated character (or more accurately, the resurrected version of a deceased one) make her debut. While speaking with Entertainment Weekly, actress Michelle Fairley revealed that we’re unlikely to see the character Lady Stoneheart make the transition from page to screen. Lady Who? What? Where? We’ll explain in a minute.
The news of the forthcoming absence of this major character got us thinking about the other differences between the novels and the TV show, and we've decided to address the top five major changes that the series has made to George R. R. Martin's text, in an attempt to see if we can understand the reasons behind them. Obviously some spoilers for those that haven’t read the books yet, and or haven’t finished this latest season.
Like any adaptation, HBO's small screen take on Martin's "A Song Of Ice And Fire" saga was obviously never going to be completely faithful to its source material, but for its first couple of seasons it actually made a damn good stab at it. Sure, there were a few minor changes here and there, but it was really only in seasons 3 and 4 that the showrunners (David Benioff and Dan Weiss) began to take things way off the Westeros map... and consequently, of course, incurred the ire of the hardcore fans. As the show rapidly catches up to Martin's typing, changes were inevitable, and some of them arguably even improve on certain aspects of the story and keep the TV narrative flowing—however, some others are pretty baffling.
1. The Event: Character deaths.
What Happened In The Show: Several minor characters still breathing in the books have been killed off in the show. Even one major character too. It began with one of Khal Drogo's "blood riders" named Mago meeting a grisly end in the first season, and since then we've had many more; most recently Night's Watch men Pyp and Gren, and in the season 4 finale, Bran Stark’s warg-seeing friend Jojen Reed.
What Happens In The Books: Well, they're all alive! After Mago's death, Martin commented that he still has plans for the character so we can expect the show to deviate significantly from the books in that respect. Can we expect the same of the others? It's very hard to believe that, at the very least, Jojen won't have another major role to play in the novel before checking out, if he even does.
Why The Changes: Probably just for added dramatic effect. When Mago was killed, the reason given was that Drogo never had a chance to show off his famed prowess in battle, and his disrespectful second-in-command seemed like the obvious choice for a demonstration. Another Dothraki horserider Rakharo was killed off simply because the actor scored a better gig elsewhere. By the same token, a couple of familiar faces (Pyp and Gren) meeting their fate during the attack on the wall in season 4's penultimate episode certainly added some weight to the battle. And Jojen? Well, we know that Weiss and Benioff are in constant contact with Martin, so he may well have given them the okay to off the young fella—don't be surprised if he's the first casualty of the upcoming book “The Winds Of Winter.” While chatting to EW, Benioff says that it made sense for Jojen to sacrifice himself to save Bran at that point in the story, and that “there are a lot of wights in that frozen field. It seemed pretty unlikely they wouldn’t score at least once.”
2. The Event: Jamie helps Tyrion escape.
What Happened In The Show: Jamie Lannister springs his little brother Tyrion from his cell, and saves him from the same fate as poor dead Ned Stark. After a touching farewell, Tyrion lingers just long enough to murder both his ex-lover Shae and his scheming father Tywin before joining Varys on a ship to freedom.
What Happened In The Books: Things play out much the same in "A Storm Of Swords,” but for very different reasons, and the dynamic between the brothers is completely altered for the TV show too. Remember Tyrion's story back in season 1 about his wife Tysha? The Imp had thought her to be a whore, paid off by his father to pop his young son's cherry—but in the book, Jamie admits that Tysha was who she claimed to be, and had actually loved Tyrion. This means Tywin had her gang raped, and Jamie knew about it. Obviously Tyrion is devastated by the news: First he yells at Jamie that he did actually kill his "vile son" Joffrey, before killing a defenseless Shae (in the show she attacks him with a knife) and putting a couple of arrows in his own father. Varys then helps him escape, but does not accompany him on the ship.
Why the changes: Possibly so as not to vilify Tyrion too much. In the book the truth about Tysha really sets the character on a dark path, beginning with the cold-blooded murder of Shae. Sure, he has his reasons (she did lie about him at the trial, and sleep with his dear old Daddy), but the manner in which his ex-lover is dispatched does leave a bad taste in the mouth. Also, amid all the death and misery of the episode, it was probably felt that we could use a brief moment of tenderness between Jamie and Tyrion before the latter goes on his killing spree. Plus, they might not have counted on viewers to even remember all the Tysha stuff from way back in the first season—and that's a lot of ground to go back over in a show that doesn't use flashbacks.