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The last episode of Game of Thrones was an announcement of intent, for the first time the show not only deviated from the books to a much larger extent than before but it also added entirely new content. The aim of this article is to discuss the impact of this as well as to a lesser extent address the two minority groups of book readers or show only fans that can paint their whole group negatively as two sides of a fight over the show and changes made within. Are the changes ever a negative or are they positive?

(I have been vigilant against anything that could be classed as a spoiler, I am only discussing things that we have seen in the show, the only exception contained is a brief mention of names of characters who have been cut completely).

How has the show changed things previously?

Often Game of Thrones is rightly praised for its amazingly accurate translation of source material, season 1 was so alike to the books that I found myself skipping the first book from halfway when I went in search of book fodder to fill the Westeros shaped hole left by season 1's ending (in time I did go back and can, in hindsight, attest to it's accuracy).

However there came a moment in early season 2 when suddenly all book readers were equally without any prior knowledge, these were scenes that were never (or at least never detailed) in the books. Some were initially concerned, was the show about to forsake the excellent narrative of G.R.R.Martin's books and forge its own path?
But whilst changes were made they only ever seemed to add to the show and the alterations always had a beneficiary. Personally after watching season 1 then reading the books between the seasons I was thrilled, once again I could enjoy not knowing how the scene would play out whilst still looking forward to/dreading the major plot points to come.

The changes were further justified by the nature of TV versus the books. Characters such as Littlefinger, Margaery and Varys (to name but a few) were brought to prominence earlier and they were fleshed out in comparison to their more elusive book-selves. Anyone who had the misfortune to know the Red Wedding was coming must have noticed that Robb Stark was transformed from the often heard of but rarely seen book version to the heroic potential protagonist of the show, and I believe the desired effect was accomplished, they somehow added even more pain and anger to his untimely death at the hands of Roose Bolton.

Scenes were invented to bolster the story of some or to simply add an interesting partnership that could create wonderful TV. Varys and Littlefinger's verbal sparring being a particular highlight or Arya being cup-bearer to Tywin instead of Roose (as she is in the books) at Harrenhal. No book lovers were disputing these inventions as they gave us insight and time with the more peripheral of the series' characters.

We've all benefited from minor characters getting more prominent roles

The very nature of the books is not always conducive to giving the whole picture as each chapter follows one of the set PoV (point of view) characters, and whilst the main core of the show are included (Tyrion, Arya, Jon, Dany, Bran, Jaime, Sansa, Davos, Eddard, Brienne, Cersei and others) there are many more left in the shadows with only their direct interaction with these characters allowing us to get a better picture of them. It is natural that the show needed to make some scenes, as whilst we miss out on the internal dialogue that does delivers great insight into the book's PoV characters others were in direct need of more screen time in order to round them out.

Are any changes worthy of complaint?

On the whole the show has done a wonderful job of delivering all the moments as experienced in the books, the lines delivered in early season are more often than not quoted word for word from the books. After all some characters such as Tyrion speak so eloquently, wittily and entertainingly that there simply wouldn't be a need to alter it.

There are those that bemoan any changes whatsoever (more on them later), however for the vast majority who debate the changes the comments are based around either missing characters or missed moments. As we all find different parts of a story resonate with us it is understandable that some will feel slightly irked by one of their favourite little moments or witticisms being missed, these are the unfortunate little touches that many would not notice but nip at those who loved that particular moment or line of dialogue.
Similarly some characters have been cut out or amalgamated into other characters, for a TV show of the already vast size of GoT we can all understand this but the absence of Strong Belwas or Coldhands is still a shame. I would class these little changes as worthy of debate even if they won't adversely affect the overall story (in fact more likely benefiting it by freeing up time to build upon more central characters).

In short there are few changes worthy of complaint but plenty worthy of debate (something that is too often confused with one another). In fact if you have asked me directly after watching Joffrey draw his last tyrannical breath whether the show had made any truly bad changes I would be stumped. But as we all know then came episode 3 and THAT scene (check out GrumpyClown's article on it), this proved to be the one defining moment where a change went wrong and Jaime's character and redemption was diminished for it.

No follow up on the controversial scene?

To be honest with the benefit of episode 4 I am of the belief that this wasn't so much a change as it was an error in direction leading the scene to come off as rape when they never intended it to be taken as such (before anyone goes too crazy, I am NOT denying that the scene we were shown was rape), I am of this opinion not only because in the books it is consensual but from the lack of follow up the TV show made on this subject.

How Episode 4 Chartered New Ground

As many will have gleaned from the comments on Tim's review, this episode was something different, something new. The changes were no longer minor characters being fleshed out or new interactions to build a background. These were new inventions in the stories of major characters, Bran and Jon in particular.

To illustrate just what I mean, Bran never goes to Craster's Keep in the books, nor does Jon return. Not only this but the previous naive thought that the change of (book character) Vargo Hoat into (TV show counterpart) Locke was needless seems ridiculous as they have built something more from him, (For those that are interested Vargo is dead at this point from an infected wound gained when Brienne bites his ear off mid attempted rape at Harrenhal, he is otherwise the very similar in action but not in persona). It is thrilling for book readers to not know a whole character and his intentions, we can theorize along with the rest and truly enjoy an unknown aspect to the show (he must be there to try and kill Jon right?).

He doesn't look trustworthy does he? Roose's plan to deal with Jon Snow perhaps?

Bran's story change is once again understandable, his story somewhat stagnates in the books until he gets where he is going. But with the subtle addition of everything at Craster's we get a more entertaining show with the potential for an unscheduled meet up between Jon and Bran (although we've all learned that those happy moments rarely occur in this world).
The attack on Castle Black is seemingly being built up and possibly left for the big budget moments of episode 9, but this left us with nothing much for Jon to do before then.

Along with entering new ground (or indeed forging their own) the show-runners would have known that some will automatically worry, their concern being that going off book (literally) could lead to needless padding to fill out the show. However this concern should have no legs in the minds of the fans, it is clear that in David Benihoff and D.B.Weiss we have two fantastic show runners who know exactly what they are doing, everyone should have faith in them.

All this deviation may also be necessary for other reasons; it is no secret that the timeline of the books gets a bit weird as book 4 only contains certain characters, and consequently the show has been taking bits from book 3 part 2 - book 5 part 1. By giving us new scenes they are smoothing it all out a bit.

TV Show Only vs Book Readers?

When reading through the comments of any GoT review you can occasionally see a book reader complaining of changes, which in turn creates those complaining about book readers. Often though this, in my opinion, is based off miscommunication. The majority of book readers I know and those on TV.com are equal fans of the show (after all they must be quite fond of TV in general to find themselves here) and whilst I understand that seeing people comparing their beloved show to books means very little to those who haven't read them there must be an understanding that to compare something to it's source material is a natural action.

What sometimes surprises me is how people often jump to the wrong conclusions. Some read any comparison as an attack on the show when often it is more a source of debate and conversation. The truth is that the large majority often gets out-shouted by a minority, we are all fans of the show and it is a small group who complain about any and all changes without reflecting on their importance or necessity. Equally there is also a minority on the "other side" who see any comment about changes as worthy of scorn before telling them to get off a TV site. The reality is these small minorities are the not the view of most, and the debate between fans of Westeros & Essos, no matter in what form, is a large part of the enjoyment of visiting this site for myself and many I am sure.

Of course there are also the worst of the worst, the ones who post spoilers outright or talk of general things to come which are also spoilers. These people paint a bad name for all book readers.

Seriously anyone who spoils stuff, the many faced god is coming for you.......
.....wait a minute...

Getting the Complete Picture

A friend of mine texted me having seen the latest episode before I had; "Either I've forgotten a lot or they are making big changes", I replied; "As long as it's awesome, I don't care", his simple reply; "It is."

He was certainly correct. As I said this episode showed that the TV show is not afraid to invent scenes, however even including the new additions made in this episode the information gleaned was still not revolutionary, it was avoiding stagnation in Bran and other stories or performing the same tasks of previous changes. And then the final scene happened

Hmm, could it be?

Out of the white came a figure, I am sure I was not the only one who's first thought was "Coldhands?". From a baby's perspective we confirmed this was not this was a White Walker.

This was unprecedented, never have we had even a hint of the White Walkers's ways, not in future books or any other source. As the figure shuffled his undead horse along I wondered how far we would follow him, waiting with baited breath; would we see something, anything of who these foes actually are?

And with a thunderous impact we got our answer as we witnessed the birth of a White Walker, from the whelp of Craster's incest, who's eyes were turning blue at the touch of another King Beyond the Wall, but where Mance has Wildlings this guy seems to be King of the White Walkers (spiky horn crown and all), we witnessed something completely unknown by anyone but G.R.R.Martin and D.Benihoff/D.B.Weiss.

Brand new and brilliant information
It was a shattering moment. This was the point in which the TV show truly stopped being a translation of the books or a way to enjoy new twists and a cinematic experience to a beloved story. This is the point in which the TV show declared itself to be an integral and necessary part of the whole experience.

Really appreciate anyone taking the time to read this and let me know what you thought in the comments. This is my first article on a community page but have been enjoying others' posts for a long time now.

It seems the precedent is to politely ask that if you enjoy the article please click the heart to show your fondness. But I hope that you also let me know your thoughts in the comments.


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