As the modern day equivalent of JRR Tolkien’s masterful Lord of the Rings epic, A Song of Ice and Fire is a literary juggernaut that not even HBO can pull off without streamlining some of the plotlines. While Weiss and Benioff have succeeded in capturing the world of ASoIaF and retold the story as Game of Thrones, making it THE most pirated show on Earth (which is record breaking btw), it’s a given that a lot of the book fans will be irked by the deviations from the source material, regardless of how reasonable Dan and David might feel about such changes.
As one of those avid and drooling book fans, here’s a list of deviations that I personally feel aren’t justified:
Barristan Selmy’s Demise
I’m still slightly reeling from the fact that they killed off Barristan Selmy like a common streetrat. Sure, he exited like a badass by besting multiple Sons of the Harpy, but it was still a death he didn’t deserve. In the books, Barristan remains to be Daenerys’ most trusted adviser and friend, he’s our “gateway” into the Targaryen past and tells Dany stories about Rhaegar, the Mad King and other histories of past Westeros. When Dany rides off with Drogon from Daznak’s pit, Barristan takes over the leadership of Meereen.
In the show, Barristan was killed by a guerilla attack that also left Grey Worm severely wounded. And here’s one more thing that irks me: why are the tv Unsullied so lame? They’re supposedly the best soldiers in the world, whether in close combat, single combat, or mounted. Why are they so easily bested by untrained rebels who were (I assume) the former masters of Meereen? The Unsullied have yet to impress me.
Tyrion Lannister in Meereen
Tyrion’s storyline has had major changes since season 4. First, the writers shifted his motivation from Tysha to Shae as Tyrion’s one true love. I understand that they wanted his “love interest” to have more backstory and relevance through Shae, but how did he even know Shae was sleeping with Tywin? Jaime’s “big reveal” didn’t happen, so what gives? Second, he never meets Jon Connington, Young Griff, or Penny and Pig. Is the “Aegon” storyline irrelevant then? Is this a spoiler for The Winds of Winter? Is his journey to Meereen and Daenerys insignificant for his character arc?
It seems that the show killed off Barristan to make way for Tyrion as Dany’s adviser and history source for the Targaryens. Being well-read, it wouldn’t be strange if Tyrion could give Daenerys some info about her Targaryen heritage. I just wish they would show how disturbed he still is with the murder of his father Tywin. Again, motivations.
Jaime Lannister in Dorne
Jaime’s journey to redemption back in season 3 and 4 have all been for nothing, apparently. Cersei orders him to go to Dorne to fetch Myrcella and so he does, having useless exposition with Prince Doran and the Sandsnakes. So far, most of the Dornish scenes have been meaningless. Though I’m all for the bromance between Bronn and Jaime, his continued redemption should have been in the Riverlands, not Dorne. And all of that just to kill off Myrcella and bring Tystane Martell to Kingslanding? Yeesh, Prince Doran Martell is much much smarter than that.
Sansa Stark Back in Winterfell
This is probably one of the the biggest book deviations that has irked so many fans. What was the point of Sansa’s arc from an abused teen to a cunning player in the game for the Iron Throne if she was to be subjected to Ramsay’s abuse eventually? I’m not happy that they got rid of the “fake Arya” storyline and put Sansa in her place. But even when Petyr Baelish declared her betrothal to the Bolton bastard, we had a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, she’d pull a Littlefinger on Ramsay and kill him or, at the very least, outsmart the Boltons from Winterfell. But no, she just follows Jeyne Poole’s fate by jumping from the moors of Winterfell with Reek. WTF!
Varys in Kingslanding
The eunuch may not have his own POV in the books, but he definitely plays a major role in bringing down the Lannister regime on Kingslanding, slowly working his way from the background and unto Cersei’s ultimate downfall. In the show, they took him away from the capital and placed him beside Tyrion Lannister. Now, he’s in Meereen and is apparently going to assist Tyrion in ruling Meereen with an absent Mother of Dragons. I get it, really. They have to cut down on timelines and characters and venues. But who’s going to pull off the “children with daggers” in Kingslanding now?
Stannis Baratheon Burns His Own Daughter
I’m still traumatized from the lingering screams of little Shireen Baratheon. And I don’t even see the point of having her burned other than for shock factor. Book Stannis would NEVER have burned his own daughter. In fact, his last order to Ser Davos (if I’m not mistaken) is to seat his daughter on the Iron Throne as the rightful Baratheon heir. Selyse or Melisandre might burn Shireen in the books, perhaps it’ll come to that. But not by Stannis’ own hands. I refuse to accept this psycho Stannis Baratheon.
- Where the F is Ghost? Since their reunion after Jon abandoned the Wildlings, Ghost never leaves Jon Snow’s side. We need to make the connection that he’s a warg.
- No Aegon Targaryen? No Jon Connington? WHAT WAS HIS PURPOSE IN THE BOOKS THEN?
- No Lady Stoneheart? HOW WILL THE GODS MAKE THE FREYS PAY FOR THEIR DISHONOR THEN? If the Rat Cook got his due, so too should the Freys. I demand it!
- No Arianne Martell or Quentyn Martell? (As far as season 5, there’s no hint that we’ll ever see them)
- Where are the Greyjoys? Are they getting rid of the Dragonbinder myth too? If they won’t appear in season 6, i’ll be disappointed. I NEED TO SEE EURON OR VICTARION DAMMNIT!
- No Penny and Pig? I’M STILL HURTING ABOUT THIS DON’T TOUCH ME!
- Jorah and Tyrion in the ruins of Valyria? NO! It’s still supposed to be spewing smoke and lava. Nobody sailed close to Old Valyria because they disappear without a trace.
- Daario Naharis is still annoying. WHERE IS MY BLUE-BEARDED DAARIO? I WANT HIM!
Changes I Like:
- Everything about Hardhome. THAT SHIT WAS ON POINT!
- Brienne and Podrick dynamic
- Selyse’s breakdown about Shireen
- Arya’s training in the House of Black and White
- Jorah and Tyrion adventures. I like how Tyrion revealed Jeor Mormont’s death to Jorah. Bromance, y’all!
- Aemon Targaryen’s death and funeral
- Jon Snow’s election as Lord Commander and Sam’s speech
- Did I mention that “Hardhome” was epic? The Night’s King and those four White Walkers gave me the chills, guys. Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, anyone?
At this point, season 5 has already given major spoilers about what’s going to happen in The Winds of Winter (and I don’t like that). Is the A Song of Ice and Fire now a novelization of the TV show? Is the world ending?
The changes are spoilers because they’re basically dictated by George RR Martin, so at some point in the books, Shireen will eventually die, Stannis is going to lose the battle with the Boltons, Sansa will be helpless in the North, Myrcella will die, Jorah Mormont will die, and Aegon Targaryen will be insignificant (if his non-appearance is any indication).
Overall, I’m lamenting the fact that the show is overcoming the books. I don’t want that. I can imagine a lot of my readers who are non-book fans of Game of Thrones will complain and say, “The books are different from the show and you shouldn’t compare. It can’t follow everything. Why can’t you just enjoy the show for what it is?”
Imagine if you were an avid Harry Potter reader and the movies got rid of Ron Weasley in movie #3, or paired Neville with Hermione, or killed both Fred and George, or had McGonagall tortured by Bellatrix, or got rid of the Horcrux plotpoint and have Harry Potter kill Voldemort with the Avada Kedavra spell? You’d be devastated too.
Let me know what you think in the comments.