For anyone who watches HBO’s Game of Thrones but has not read the books, there may exist a curiosity. They may wonder why the readers of the book series get so worked up about the changes made for the TV show. A fair argument can be made for the emotional connection that occurs between viewer and show that could never compare to the connection created by a well-written book. Not to mention the real fact that the book is the original story from the mind of its creator. The show, while wildly popular, is a cable television knock off, branded and commercialized to sell. So, yes, the readers are sometimes indignant and perhaps rightfully so. Here is an explanation of some of the changes that have been made which range from slightly to very troublesome for some fans of the book series on which Game of Thrones is based.
The rape of Cersei Lannister by her brother/lover Jaime was a change that not only managed to unravel any growth in character Jaime experienced up to that point, but was so poorly executed that in the next episode it was not even mentioned. The emotional fallout from such an event between two people who are as close as the Lannister twins would be devastating to their relationship. The writers may have realized this and decided to just ignore the fact that the whole thing happened. In all fairness, perhaps the characters would too, but it is inconceivable that either character could carry on the way they do in the books after their trist in the sept had he actually raped her. The change was a bad decision.
The torture and breaking of Theon Greyjoy/Reek contained scenes of such a gratuitous nature that they were insulting to many readers. The torture is talked about in the books and the cruelty of Ramsay Snow is well known. What made this part of the story so riveting was that Theon had become a broken man. What exactly had happened to him was divulged through Reek’s foggy memories. The unnerving sympathy many felt for a previously despised character did not require visuals. As is sometimes the case, the creators of shows take it upon themselves to fill in spaces that should really have been left alone. This was one of those times.
Samwell “Slayer” Tarly was featured in one of the best chapters in the entire series of books. Sam and the Night’s Watch are trudging through the snow. Sam is exhausted, at the end of his reserves and even at one point lays down to let himself die. Luckily, he is picked up and carried as his small group tries to catch up to the rest. As darkness falls, they are visited by the White Walkers. In an effort to get away, Sam stabs one with the Dragonglass dagger that Jon Snow made for him. Much to his surprise, it kills the beast. For the show, this incredible experience was transferred to a moment when Sam is protecting his new gal pal, Gilly, and her baby. In the book, the chapter was an opportunity for the reader to get to know Samwell better. In the show, it was reduced to base heroics. Without the emotional rollercoaster ride of that epic chapter, the viewers lost out.
Jeyne Westerling becoming Talisa Stark is a change in Game of Thrones that defies all explanation. Not only did Talisa not exist in the books, but Jeyne, Robb Stark’s young wife, who he marries instead of a Frey, is not present at the wedding where Robb is killed. In the TV show, as Talisa’s pregnant belly gets sliced open, a sense of gratuitous violence seeps in. There was no improving on the scene as it was originally written, but the show’s writers found a way to add shock value.
Arya working as Tywin’s cupbearer may not be a big deal, but in the books, Arya Stark dos not serve the elder Lannister, she serves Roose Bolton. There was something decidedly creepy about Arya forming a sort of daughter/father bond with the Machiavellian Lannister. It is unclear what the motivation was for this change. Perhaps it added a small measure of intrigue. Apparently, the intrigue of what Arya and Jaqen H’ghar were up to at Harrenhall was not enough.
When it comes down to it, this whole affair is about the difference between purists and those who are a bit more easy going about change. Plenty of fans of the books are perfectly fine with the alterations that have been made to the storyline for the show. The levels of frustration do seem to vary for those who feel that the book series deserves better treatment. Indeed, the show is beautiful and well-acted and the production value is impressive. But, when an adored work of art is altered in such invasive ways, fans are bound to file complaints. Maybe the ones who should be explaining the changes in Game of Thrones are the ones who made the changes.
Opinion by Stacy Lamy