The first season of Game of Thrones was brilliant. It was the season I watched before reading the books, and when I did end up reading Game of Thrones, I was just having major deja vu the whole time. Yes, there were a few small changes, but overall, the show was extremely similar to the book. But after that, everything changed. They made enormous changes that didn’t seem to benefit the plot, and they even changed events in ways that contradicted themselves, or made things make no sense. If you have not read the books, I advise you to stop reading, even if you are up-to-date in the show, because there will be spoilers for Storm of Swords (book three/seasons three and four).
Arya at Harrenhal:
In the show, Arya becomes Tywin’s cupbearer. They have surprisingly deep conversations, and Tywin knows she is a Northener who is lying about where she comes from – but still doesn’t suspect that she is the missing Stark girl his family needs. She is also owed three kills by Jaqen, and names the Tickler as her first kill, and Amory Lorch, who is just about to rat her out to Tywin for stealing a letter, for her second. In the books, Arya works as a servant for a man called Weese. For her first kill, she names someone who bragged about being a part of a gang rape, and for her second kill, she names her master Weese, for abusing her. In both the book and the show, Arya names Jaqen himself as her third kill, to make him help her so that she will unname him. In the show, however, Arya simply gets him to help she and her friends escape Harrenhal, which he does by killing the guards, whereas in the books, she gets him to help free Northmen who are locked in the dungeons, and only escapes when the Goat takes charge of Harrenhal, killing a guard herself in the progress. In the book, she meets the Tickler a while after her escape, and stabs him over and over, repeating back to him what he would say while torturing people at Harrenhal.
Jaime & Cersei’s Reversal:
When people start reading a Song of Ice and Fire, they always hate Jaime, and when a friend who has already read the books tells them that they’ll change their mind eventually, they say they most definitely will not change their mind, and are horrified at the thought. And then they do. Jaime doesn’t get particularly likeable in the sense that we know, but he does become remarkably less unlikeable, and in a world like that in a Song of Ice and Fire, less unlikeable is pretty damn likeable.
Cersei is a bitch. In the books, she does not become likeable. Eventually she is introduced as a point-of-view character, and even the insight into her thoughts don’t make her seem any more likeable. They make her seem more stupid. They make her seem more batshit insane. But they don’t make her seem particularly likeable or sympathetic.
In the show, however, they seem to be reversing this. Kinslaying is one of the two ultimate criminal acts, yet Jaime kills his own cousin in order to escape imprisonment. Cersei seems less like a bitch and more like an out-of-control mother.
Not only is his death a ridiculous change to the books, but so is Alton himself. In the books, there is a character called Cleos Frey, who has a Lannister mother. Now that makes sense. His name is Frey, which he got from his father, but he’s still part Lannister on his mother’s side. But Alton Lannister is supposedly the son of Cynda Lannister. So unless there’s some obvious incest going on, he got the wrong surname.
Sansa-Tyrell Marriage Plot:
Um, hello? Loras is a member of the kingsguard. Members of the kingsguard forsake all titles and lands, and cannot wed. Tyrion and Tywin just had a conversation about how he should be entitled to Casterly Rock because of this. In the books, the Tyrells plot for Sansa to marry Willas, a cripple. There is even some dialogue about how disappointed Sansa is to not be marrying Loras, and the Queen of Thorns tells her he’d be a dreadful husband. Seriously, why change it from Willas to Tyrell? I mean, it’s not like they’d need to cast anyone new, seeing as the wedding doesn’t actually happen.
Lack of Prophecies:
Okay, this one probably isn’t that important, but prophecies are fun! It’s awesome being able to read Patchface’s little songs, think of them as nothing but crazy talk, and then a few chapters later realise that he had actually just predicted someone’s death. What even was the point of the House of the Undying in the show, when they removed all the prophecies and left only a vision of Dany’s dead husband and son? When prophecies are explicitly said to be prophecies, it is fun to try and guess what they’re about. I was so proud of myself when I accurately deciphered “I dreamt of a roaring river and a woman that was a fish. Dead she drifted, with red tears on her cheeks, but when her eyes did open, oh I woke from terror”.
News of Bran & Rickon’s ‘Death’:
In the books, when Lady Catelyn hears of the deaths of her children, she sends Jaime off with Brienne, in an attempt to get her remaining children back. When Robb hears of the deaths of his brothers, he is sent grieving into the arms of Jeyne Westerling, and then marries her out of honour. In the show, Cat frees Jaime before ever hearing about Bran and Rickon, and Robb starts seeing Talisa Maegyr long before Bran and Rickon are ‘killed’.
In the books, Robb marries Jeyne Westerling. Her family is aligned with the Lannisters, and after hearing about the wedding, the Lannisters, the Freys, and Jeyne’s mother plot to overthrow King Robb. Jeyne’s mother even gives her potions to stop her from getting pregnant. So why would the Lannisters align with some random Volantine girl’s mother? Perhaps they just see the marriage as an opportunity to get the Freys.
Daenerys’s Entire Storyline:
Good God, do not get me started. The House of the Undying. Everything in Qarth. Her incessant whining. The replacement of the assassination attempt by the sorrowful men with an assassination attempt by a little girl warlock. The lack of Strong Belwas. The deaths of her blood riders. The deaths of her other people. The lack of prophecies, as mentioned above. The entrapment of Xaro Xhoan Daxos and the ridiculous pronunciation of his name.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love the show. I just love the books a whole lot better. I feel as though some aspects of the show wouldn’t make sense alone, and that they’re dumbing down and watering down a fair few otherwise brilliant characters.