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5 Major Differences From HBO’s ‘Game Of Thrones’ & George R. R. Martin’s Books

by Mark Cassidy
June 27, 2014 11:01 AM
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3. The event: We learn what the White Walkers are doing with Craster's bastards.
What Happened In The Show: The mutineers at the keep continue the tradition of leaving the newborn sons of Craster's "wives" out in the snow for the demonic White Walkers. We see one of them collect the infant and take him to what we are to assume is the Walkers' domain. There, what appears to be their king touches the boy's face, instantly transforming him into White Walker junior.
What Happens In The Books: None of that! After we find out that the Walkers are taking the children, it's not even mentioned again up to the point we're at in the saga, "A Dance With Dragons.” So this is either an example of the series taking things in its own direction, or a big spoiler from future books.
Why The Changes: At the end of season 2, the White Walkers are seen advancing on the men of the Night's Watch with their undead army, and then... nothing. We see them again in a couple of brief scenes (Sam kills one later on), but many fans have wondered why in seven hells they didn't continue their march on the wall. The show's decision to go back and see what they're up to is likely just down to them feeling the scary buggers could use real some screen time—but with nothing else from the books to draw from, they jumped forward to an event that readers haven't witnessed yet.

4. The event: No Coldhands, No Stoneheart.
What Happened On The Show: Despite fans expecting at least one of them to make an impactful appearance in the season 4 finale, these undead characters from the books did not show up.
What Happens In The Books: While Bran and his posse are on their way to see the Three-eyed Raven, they come under attack and are saved by a mysterious character they christen "Coldhands.” This undead fellow (believed by many to be Benjen Stark) is mute, rides an elk, and is generally just a very cool addition to the story. Another, more controversial resurrected character many expected to see was "Lady Stoneheart,” a.k.a. Catelyn Stark. After her demise at the Red Wedding she's found by the Brotherhood without Banners, and their leader Beric Dondarrion gives his last "life" to raise her from the dead. I think pretty much everyone expected Stoneheart to be the big season 4 finale cliffhanger and there was certainly a lot of loud fan outrage when she didn’t appear.
Why The Changes: There’s always a chance these two will still show up in the series of course, but if that is the plan, not featuring them—Lady Stoneheart in particular—in the last part of season 4 feels like a bit of a missed opportunity. Perhaps they simply felt there was a bit too much going on with the other characters. Also, the resurrected Catelyn Stark (or “Un-Cat” as she’s also referred to by fans) ties into Brienne and Pod’s story, so once it was decided that they’d be encountering The Hound and Arya in the show, (which also doesn’t happen in the books) her introduction at that point would have been problematic.

5. The Event: Sex scenes become rape scenes.
What Happened On The Show: This is a controversial one for sure. Two consensual, though not exactly conventional, sex scenes from the novels were given a far more sinister twist in HBO’s adaptation. Early on in the first book, Khal Drogo and his new bride Dany have sex for the first time. She's nervous, terrified even, but Drogo waits until she is ready, and is actually gentle. In the first episode of the show however, it is made very clear that Drogo is basically taking what is his and raping her. Then, in the season 4 episode "Breaker Of Chains," Jamie Lannister forces himself on his sister Cersei in Joffrey's tomb.
What Happens In The Books: The same, but the sex is consensual.
Why The Changes: This one is baffling. In the case of Drogo and Dany, in both the book and the show she eventually grows to love him, so the decision to have him rape her makes that much harder to buy. With Jamie and Cersei it’s not so clear cut however. When the scene aired debate raged online, with some reasoning that although Cersei initially resists, by the end she relents and has consensual sex with her brother next to the body of their dead son (see, not so creepy after all then!). The episode's director Alex Graves sees it that way too, and explains why, when quizzed about it by Vulture. “It’s my cut of the scene. The consensual part of it was that she wraps her legs around him, and she’s holding on to the table, clearly not to escape but to get some grounding in what’s going on. And also, the other thing that I think is clear before they hit the ground is she starts to make out with him. The big things to us that were so important, and that hopefully were not missed, is that before he rips her undergarment, she’s way into kissing him back. She’s kissing him aplenty." A lot of people didn’t buy this, and Martin himself sounded a bit dubious about the changes to his text.

So there you have it. Obviously there are other alterations, but these seem like the ones that will most directly affect the story. Martin is hard at work on the sixth book in the series, “The Winds Of Winter,” but there’s no doubt that we’re going to see plenty more deviations from the source, and even though the author is on hand to guide and advise the direction of the show, it’s entirely possible that at some point they will be forced to make some big decisions for themselves where the characters are concerned. More fan backlash on the way? Count on it.

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  • Andre | July 23, 2014 6:13 PMReply

    Applying modern social norms to a story (never mind that it's all fiction!) set in a Dark/Middle Age era is a joke. GoT & it's writers have done one thing above all else: They've ended all the romanticism associated with the Medieval era. There was good reason it was called The Dark Ages, after all! Drogo's "bedding" of Dany was by the era's standards fairly straight forward - She's his wife ergo his property. (Hell, you still see examples of THAT in this day & age..!) Luckily, Dany was tough enough (mentally & emotionally) to work the situation to her advantage. (Her only other option was suicide. She'd hardly have been the first woman to kill herself to escape such a predicament!)
    As for Cersei..? again, modern sensibilities don't apply. (also, all Cersei ~had~ to do, if she wasn't just reticent, was scream. Jamie would've been put to death.)
    It's a great story, but looking at it from a modern perspective..? reveals how ugly such times REALLY were. GRRM's mastery of the quill is the only thing that makes it palatable.

  • Tare | July 11, 2014 8:28 PMReply

    In our culture Dany was raped. In that world, and in our world in times past it was not rape. You are trying to apply our laws and morals to them and it does not work.

  • Crabbieappleton | July 23, 2014 3:04 PM

    True. And the American South didn't really practice slavery, since that was not in our world, since it was, like, over 100 years ago.

  • Carol | July 4, 2014 11:23 AMReply

    They changed Drogo and Dany first night it into a rape scene because they could not show ALL THE OTHER NIGHTS he raped her and all the time the wanted to KILL HERSELF because of it. HBO had to make things very quickly. She was abused, and there's no difference if it happened in the first or in the second night. Get over it, Drogo lovers.

  • JDW | July 2, 2014 1:57 PMReply

    Robb's wife being present at the Red Wedding and her and the baby in her belly being murdered added a whole new bit of dark depth to that scene. In the books she wasn't at the Red Wedding because Robb knew not to bring her around Walder Frey after breaking his promise of marrying one of his daughters.

  • Carol | July 4, 2014 11:29 AM

    Plus, her death makes us remember Dacey Mormont's death, getting an axe in the belly.

  • Gavin | June 30, 2014 4:46 AMReply

    No mention of Theon having his Manhood removed? o.0 That is a pretty big deviation from the main plot line.

  • Jen | July 3, 2014 8:49 AM

    It happens in the books as well.

  • sasha | June 29, 2014 7:15 PMReply

    Cold hands isn't mute in the books. Renly may not have actual gay sex in the books, but it's implied... my biggest missing piece is Strong Belwas! but as is said, the tv show will need to move forward probably before the next book comes out... there's a lot of history and talky exposition in a feast for crows and a dance w dragons. if they run out of books, a good suggestion my husband had was to do a prequel series like Spartacus did when their main guy died. that way, Benioff and Weiss can get all the history of Westeros in and give GRRM time to finish the books!

  • John Stone | June 28, 2014 6:02 PMReply

    It's a work of fiction. Get a life

  • JP | July 14, 2014 4:50 PM

    .. you know nothing John Stone ..

  • steve | June 29, 2014 5:26 AM

    yeah, get a life and comment on things that don't interest you.

  • kim | June 28, 2014 8:03 PM

    I know right...

  • Matt | June 28, 2014 3:57 PMReply

    How about the fact that Renly isn't gay in the books and there are no gay scenes. At all!

  • makesomedrinks | June 29, 2014 2:35 AM

    false lol. .. They were gay. It was just more subtle.

  • jakob dylan | June 27, 2014 2:07 PMReply

    it's a biiiig stretch to call drogo's sex encounter rape. it was his wife, and though he was rough it was his culture to do it that way. until at least danaerys learned to take control. wasn't rape.

  • JDW | July 2, 2014 2:05 PM

    It wasn't rape because she wanted it. You could totally tell. She was all like "I totally want to have my rape fantasy fulfilled by THAT dude!". Also, she never said "no". No means no. She didn't say it. Moreover, she groaned through the whole thing - sure, it sounded like she wasn't having a grand time but she was. Who falls in love with a rapist? Not Stormborn, certainly. She loved Khal Drogo because he took charge and gave her what she needed. And what she needed was Drogo'sPoon Hammer.

  • kyle | June 28, 2014 2:11 PM

    It is incredible that anybody needs to be told that forced sex is rape -- marriage status regardless.

  • Wut | June 27, 2014 4:17 PM

    it was the good type of rape, tho...

  • Mark | June 27, 2014 2:45 PM

    She didn't want to have sex with him, he had sex with her anyway =rape. I'm always a bit disgusted when I have to spell that out.

  • Zack | June 27, 2014 2:28 PM

    ...Jesus Christ.

  • jawnnn | June 27, 2014 12:47 PMReply

    Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie

  • MAL | June 27, 2014 11:48 AMReply

    The change I find most baffling is actually the one that has Brienne actually finding Arya! It makes no sense that Arya would just run away at that point and it rather destroys Brienne's credibility as "oathkeeper", as per her sword's name. I can live with all the other changes but this one stikes me as superfluous and ridiculous.

  • Glen | June 29, 2014 2:48 AM

    Of course Arya would run away. You saw her change her mind just when the Hound got Brienne to admit where her sword came from. The Hound may still officially be on her hit list, but Arya knows for a fact he ain't working for the Lannisters.

    Arya has excellent reasons to be suspicious of strangers.

  • moe | June 27, 2014 12:29 PM

    Arya doesn't know Brienne from anybody else. She just sees someone she doesn't entirely trust with a sword she says she got from Jaime Lannister. She doesn't want to go with Brienne. What's baffling?

  • mrs.issley | June 27, 2014 11:24 AMReply

    Another awful piece on Thrones. LS thing is not even confirmed and the whole 'oh misogyny' vibe is just embarrassing. Stop writing about things you people have 0 idea about

  • Zack | June 27, 2014 1:14 PM

    I know, people pointing out unnecessary, random scenes of gendered violence is just, like, SO annoying. Can't we just enjoy a rape scene without someone on the Internet asking if it's necessary to the plot? SO lame, yo.

  • Sean | June 27, 2014 11:16 AMReply

    In the first book Drogo is in his mid-to-late twenties when he "marries" the then thirteen year old Daenerys, so while she might've given what read like consent on the page, I think in most would consider that rape on one level or another. Was probably easier for the show runners to depict this more obviously since they couldn't really make Dany 13 in the show

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