Game of Thrones: Does It Really Matter That the Series is Divergent and Surpassing the Books?

By Eleonora Iafano on Sep 29, 2015 to Game of Thrones


Let me preface my article by stating that I have read all of GRRM’s books. I loved them; it was like parting with an old friend every time I finished a novel. I also want to state that it must be incredibly difficult to take a series, such as A Song of Ice and Fire, and try to adapt high quality scripts, considering the books are so HUGE.

Ever since Game of Thrones debuted on HBO as of April 2011, the series has drawn record numbers of fans. Comic Con events are packed with cast and fans, eagerly asking questions, buying merchandise and getting their favorite character’s autograph. GRRM himself has been doing press junkets at Comic Con, as well as doing book signing tours (I myself had the opportunity to meet the big guy) aASongfOfFireAndIcend writing every 9th episode per season for the HBO series.

Fans have anticipated each season with a ravenous frenzy: and each passing season did not disappoint. (I still have mixed feelings about Season Five, but that’s another matter altogether) Fans who have read the books began to wonder when book number six would come out. After all, it was spring of 2011 when A Dance with Dragons was published. It’s now 2015. With that, many fans, many websites and even the writers and creators, DB Weiss and David Benioff, have begun to wonder about the possibility of what happens….when the show finishes with Season Five and the sixth book isn’t out yet?

GRRM himself had stated in many interviews that he would not be writing the ninth (otherwise known as the penultimate) episode for Season Five and that he was busy concentrating on writing the sixth book. He did not attend Comic Con this year and fans have speculated that this was, indeed, a very good sign. Season Five has now come and gone – much of the material was taken from A Feast for Crows and A Dance for Dragons. Seasons Six and Seven have been greenlit, leaving many people to wonder what would the plots be like? What new characters would be introduced? Would the writers still use some of the material from A Dance with Dragons for some of Season Six? Would book readers be upset now that the writers veered off into unknown territory? Some of the story lines in Season Five were disappointing, while others were lack luster.

Many fan websites, such as Reddit, Watchers on the Wall, Winter is Coming and have been flooded with comments from both book readers and non-book readers. If you are a die-hard fan of the books, you may have a few things to say about where the show is headed off to. You may really be upset that several crucial subplots were let right out or were completely overhauled (several examples of this include Lady Stoneheart, the Hound living on the Quiet Isle; Marcella being poisoned; Mance Raydar and Stannis Baratheon being killed off when he’s living on in the books, Cersei Lannister sleeping with the Kettleblack Brothers).  As a book reader, I was pretty upset with some of the silliness seen on screen. If you don’t want to read the books and enjoy watching the series, than you don’t have the prior knowledge and can pretty much watch the series without all the details.

As a book reader, do you care that Season Six will not be following the books? How does that make you feel? Have fans lost their enthusiasm, seeing as how many of the episodes from Season Five came under fire? Or do fans not care either way, as long as they get a few more seasons from HBO? Do you feel that the quality of the series will increase, given that the sixth book isn’t out yet and the writers will simply have to forge GOT_SnowDeadtheir way through many plots? Or do you feel that they should use some of the fifth book, along with some of the chapters that GRRM has published on his blog, “Not A Blog,” from his upcoming sixth book?

My personal feel for the situation: a happy compromise: Weiss and Benioff should use material from A Dance with Dragons, as well as some of the published chapters of The Winds of Winter, in order to create, write and produce Season Six.

The series does surpass the books and how does that affect you? Does it matter? If you love watching the show, and have no interest in reading the books, then it doesn’t matter. However if you are a hardcore fans of the books, then you are looking for high quality writing, not fluff and simply juicy storylines for sensationalism’s sake. You want as much book detail  as possible. You expect it. You don’t like surprises or completely ridiculous story threads that come out of left field. YES, it matters a great deal that the show has surpassed the books. You want the show writers to stay true to the book’s vision and include as much detail as possible, right down to the last page. I think a great deal now weighs on what elements will be incorporated from what GRRM posted on his blog and other important fact from A Dance With Dragons. When we watch Seasons Six, Seven (and possibly Eight),  we will get a better understanding of whether or not the writers stayed true to GRRM’s form or went off on their own entirely, in the hopes of leaving a lasting impression. 

So really it is cut & dry – to purists of GRRM it matters for the rest of you it doesn’t. But, for those who don’t pick up a book you miss so much detail; detail that we have wished all along made it to the screen. 


  • Josh Lothridge

    Speaking as somebody who read the books … Season 5 was so much better than Crows / Dragons, albeit with a few minor mishaps (mainly Dorne, but it isn’t like book Dorne was that much better). Season 5 cut down on a lot of the unnecessary fluff that was interjected into Crows / Dragons (Tyrion’s pointless journey to find “where whores go” and the delayed meeting with Danys, the whole Quentin storyline, Lady Stoneheart, the pale mare, Sansa’s adventures in the Vale, Brienne’s wandering), added real emotional impact to certain storylines (Sansa’s wedding night, while less horrifying that Jenye Poole’s in the book, had more of a punch because it happened to a character we had been following from day one instead of to some random side character), moved some things forward to Season 6 to tighten up storylines (Euron & the Kingsmoot, Sam’s travails in Oldstown, the seige of Riverrun, Arya’s blind stage), showcased a danger that was only alluded to in the books by actually showing us the massacre at Hardhome, and actually gave us a climax that both Crows and Dragons were missing in the Battle for Winterfell.

    The only thing I felt was missing from Season 5 was Doran’s “fire and blood” speech (I suspect they are planning on doing this in Season 6 instead). By taking that out the Dorne plotline felt incomplete and muddled. I guess they wanted to hold off on that because they needed to kill off a Lannister child as a payoff for Maggy the Frog’s prophecy in episode 1, and they wanted to leave it uncertain whether Doran knew about the murder plot or not and save that revelation for Season 6. But other than that one quibble, I felt Season 5 was better than Crows / Dragons.

    • Eleonora Iafano

      I do agree with you on the cutting down of Tyrion’s very long journey. I’m glad that particular change was made. It was fantastic to see him meet up with Dany. I was disappointed in how the whole Dorne plot was handled and would have preferred to see more of Doran and Quentin, but what can you do? Totally agree about the inclusion of Hardhome and the White Walkers. We fans, along with Sam, have seen just how dangerous the army of the dead is and have been waiting to see what havoc they were going to wreak on the people of Westeros. Hardhome did not disappoint. I was pleased to see more of Jaqen, as he has become a fan fave and of course, the more Arya and Tyrion we saw, the happier we all were.

      I know it’s so easy for us to sit and say, “Oh they should have done this or included that or totally left out blah blah blah,” but in the end, Weiss & Benioff will write what they want to, using the books or their own ideas for inspiration. I really did want to see more use of flashbacks, because it was awesome how they showed Maggy the Frog right in the beginning – adds a touch of malice and the ever present threat of a curse….

      And now, our ‘watch begins,’ and with that…..Winter is Coming.

  • Weds

    For me personally, no, it doesn’t matter that the show has been diverging, or that it will surpass the published material. I’ve been a fan of the novels for over a decade, but that doesn’t mean I want the show to simply transcribe the book to the screen (not that that would be possible, anyways).

    The show is both stronger and weaker than the books in certain aspects, and the same can be applied when talking about the novels. I greatly enjoy them both for what they are, not what they aren’t.

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