Guest Post: Game of Thrones–Book vs. Show by Elizabeth Eckhart


Game of Thrones vs. A Song of Ice and Fire: What’s Different?

 With the fourth season of Game of Thrones airing on HBO in just a few days, popular media is buzzing with excitement, anticipation and predictions about what is to come. Based on George R.R. Martin’s popular fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, the show has captured the hearts and minds of millions of viewers around the world. Even for fans who have read all the books and had a well developed mental image of the settings and characters, the actors in the show, many in their first prominent roles, have become synonymous with the characters – we think of Jon Snow as automatically being Kit Harrington, and Tyrion Lannister couldn’t be played by anyone other than Peter Dinklage. The show is also developing an identity and a storyline of its own, as Martin himself continues working on the book series and the show’s writers work to adapt the existing material in a way that’s best suited for a serial television series. But how do the books differ from the show, and are these differences good or bad?  
Here’s a look at some of the differences between the television show and the book. There are plenty to go around, but these are some that have not been discussed in great detail on blogs, articles and message boards. Be warned – now would be a good time to stream any episodes you haven’t seen from HBO Go or  DTV’s website, as there are some major spoilers ahead if you haven’t finished the third season of the show or the first three books in the series!  
Catelyn and Jon Snow: a Bitter Relationship

 Catelyn Stark takes a far more critical attitude towards Jon Snow in the books than in the television series. In the HBO show, she is quite cool and detached towards Eddard Stark’s illegitimate son, but not entirely hostile. Martin’s books portray a different character – a Catelyn Stark who almost completely resents the young boy for being the living, breathing representation of her husband’s infidelity. In the third season of the show, she expresses some remorse for wishing death on Jon when he was a boy, which is far more than can be said for the books.  
Combining Characters

 Let’s be honest – A Song of Ice and Fire is a rather massive series. The books easily span 1,000 pages at a time, and the pages are full of unique and brilliant characters. HBO would spend its entire operating budget trying to re-create the fantasy novels down to the exact detail. Some characters are eliminated, while others are combined into one person in order to keep the show’s storyline flowing quickly and smoothly. One such example is Gendry, the illegitimate son of the late King Robert. In the books, another son is mentioned. The noble-born Edric Storm is the one offered up for blood sacrifice by the Red Priestess Melisandre, not the low-born Gendry.  
Tyrion Lannister: Not Always the Prettiest Dwarf in Westeros

 Peter Dinklage is known for his stellar acting skills as well as his rugged good looks. However, the Tyrion Lannister portrayed in the novels is described as deformed and hideous, with a large forehead, mismatched eyes and a disconcerting stare. His injuries in the Battle of the Blackwater did more than just give him a slice across the face – in the books, he loses most of his nose. However, this is one difference that can truly be appreciated. While the Tyrion of the books is seen as monstrous in appearance, the Tyrion of the TV series is not portrayed as harshly. In his role as Tyrion, Dinklage emphasizes the outcast nature of the dwarf in relation to his own family. The looks only vaguely matter as means of developing Tyrion’s personality and goals. It’s definitely a refreshing take on Martin’s character, who is one of the most loved out of the entire series.  

What Difference Does it Make?

 While the books and the television series have been diverging from each other since the beginning, both are still hugely entertaining in their own way. In recent interviews, George R.R. Martin has expressed concern about the pace of the series and the pace of the books. Still, the show’s producers are aware of the overall plot lines, and we can trust that they will still deliver an amazing conclusion if Martin is unable to do so.   
Post written by Elizabeth Eckhart. Find her on Twitter at @elizeckhart

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