Warning: Book spoilers ahead!
The HBO series Game of Thrones is a wonderful thing—that intro sequence alone still gives me chills. With gorgeous locales, spot-on casting, and major production value, the wildly-successful TV series, which kicks off its sixth season this Sunday, is a crowd-pleaser even for those who have read the A Song of Ice and Fire series like me.
Truth be told, I'm an avid fan of George R.R. Martin’s books. Not only have I read all of the novels, I have even indulged in hours of poring over the fan-made wikis about the worlds of Westeros and Essos he imagined. And while I don’t begrudge HBO’s decisions to alter or condense characters and events for the sake of the television medium, things have became more complicated.
As most fans know, the show began to approach and then pass up the events of the books, which are still incomplete. And HBO isn’t completely guessing what’s going to happen: They have consulted with Martin on events of the remaining two books, The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring. This fact leaves this reader with mixed emotions, to say the least. While I’m of course excited for the upcoming season, there are five slightly distressing revelations related to the series that I still can’t get over. Check them out below.
1. The show has already revealed a major event from The Winds of Winter
As viewer as well as reader, a switch flipped in my mind the moment Tyrion met Daenerys at the end of Season 5. The fact that this meeting does take place is not terribly shocking since Tyrion’s goal throughout A Dance With Dragons was to unite with the Mother of Dragons, but the scene on TV signified the gloves were off. While I will still drool over the pages of such a meeting when I get my hands on The Winds of Winter, this was the turning point where the show started to dramatize major plot points from the unreleased books.
2. The show is killing off people who are alive and well in the books
Remember when Robb’s pregnant wife on the show was killed at the Red Wedding? In the books, she was never killed. She was also never there. She was also never pregnant. I’m not devastated to learn Robb’s wife probably will never make another appearance in the books, but in killing her off, the show has more or less has confirmed that. Behold the “proxy spoiler.” Additional surprise deaths in Season 5 send a similar message—Barristan Selmy, never forget.
3. Or leaving them out entirely
There is of course the mysterious case of Catelyn Stark/Lady Stoneheart. I waited all of Season 5 for the show to introduce this plotline. Book readers will recall Catelyn was revealed as risen and vengeful at the end of A Storm of Swords, which corresponds to Season 3. Unless the series has something unexpected in store, this absence from the show leads me to question the character’s significance in the upcoming books.
4. The show won’t veer too far from the show’s core cast, while the books do
Readers of A Feast for Crows, which followed Season 4 of the show, were probably struck by the complete absence of Daenerys, Jon Snow, and Tyrion. This book in the series focused on Cersei, Brienne, and Sansa, among others. Readers may also know this was originally part of one overly-long book that Martin cut in half. So Martin didn’t intend to structure his story this way, however he was certainly unafraid to take the reader on prolonged journeys away from familiar settings and characters in order to paint a rich, broad view of Westeros and Essos. For example, Dorne is only seen through Jamie’s eyes on the show, whereas in the book, the reader gets a much more complete sense of this world. And this brings me to my next point.
5. The show is moving quite quickly through the books
And why not milk it when ratings are so strong? While exploring every corner of Westeros and Essos illustrated in the books may not be tenable for a TV series, there was a noticeable speediness during Season 5 from this reader’s perspective, which possibly stemmed from a decision to keep characters such as Daenerys or Jon in focus. As a result, it seems the showrunners ran out of material before Martin finished writing the next installment. Granted, there’s plenty of episodes of the TV series in store, but what will I do with myself when it’s all over?