October 22, 2014

HBO is just taunting George R.R. Martin fans at this point


Major changes to George R.R. Martin's books could be coming to Game of Thrones. ©Peter and Joyce Grace / via Wikimedia Commons

Major changes to George R.R. Martin’s books could be coming to Game of Thrones. The Iron Throne is still super point though. 
©Peter and Joyce Grace / via Wikimedia Commons

First things first: venture no further if you live in fear of spoilers, specifically for George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and the HBO series Game of Thrones. The following will get into all manner of plot points from the books that may or may not have already been depicted on the TV show, so if you want to avoid such topics, turn back now, before it’s too late.

The upcoming fifth season of the series will primarily draw on Martin’s fourth and fifth books — A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons — and Dan Selcke writes for the A.V. Club about a significant change to the story line for Jaime Lannister. (Consider this your final warning to look away if you don’t want to know about upcoming events onscreen and on the page.) While the books have the Kingslayer sent off to the Riverlands to put down a possible rebellion, a video leaked from the set indicates that he’ll instead be traveling to Dorne, the series’s stand-in for northern Africa or the Middle East.

This is, as Selcke says, “the show’s biggest departures from the books yet, and suggests that the producers have grown tired of waiting for Martin to finish the series and have decided to just go their own way.” The change brings together characters who have not yet met in the books, like Jaime and Prince Doran Martell of Dorne, setting up increased interaction between the houses of Martell and Lannister. It will be interesting to see how Jaime’s presence affects the story if the show includes the events that transpire in Dorne in A Dance with Dragons — namely, the attempt to kill Princess Myrcella, nominally Jaime’s niece but actually his incestuous love child.

Rob Bricken of io9 reports another change that brings together characters on the show who haven’t yet met face-to-face in the books. In this case, Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen are shown sharing screen time in the city of Meereen. “In the books,” Bricken explains, “Tyrion spent a long time just getting to Meereen — a trip which involved being enslaved, masquerading as a performer, and even joining a group of mercenaries… Seeing the two characters together, and chummy enough that Tyrion gets a spot of honor next to the queen clearly means Game of Thrones isn’t going to dawdle in telling Tyrion’s journey.”

This might explain at least part of the decision to deviate from Martin’s source material. Rather than spend extended periods telling individuals’ stories in isolation, showrunnners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will save time and, no doubt, satisfy some fans by bringing two of its most popular characters together. And in Dorne, where viewers know precious few of the characters, it will make sense to bring a familiar face to act as a sort of audience surrogate as the new location is introduced.

The departures from A Song of Ice and Fire for the sake of TV don’t seem all that egregious, and frankly could improve on Martin’s meandering pace. But given the uproar after a certain other character was cut from the show, HBO might be in for a whole new wave of outrage from Martin’s fans.


Nick Davies is a publicist at Melville House.