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Game of Thrones

April 1, 2013

ImageGame of Thrones has returned!  This is one of my favorite book series of all time, and the show adapts it brilliantly, although, as with any adaptation, it does take liberties.

I’ve been a fan of the books for some time now, and I reread the first book just before watching the first season.  I was impressed with how accurate the story was and how even much of the dialogue was verbatim from the books.  But I was a little taken aback at how they aged up all of the younger characters.  All of the Stark children, Loras Tyrell, Joffrey, they were all aged up.  In TV Land, this makes sense.  If the characters are older, then the actors playing them can be as well, so you’ll get better performances and you don’t have those pesky union rules about filming scenes with minors.  But even more than that, I was struck by how very few of the characters looked like I’d pictured them when I read the books.  Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister was brilliant casting, as was Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen.  And Iain Glen was exactly how I’d always pictured Jorah Mormont.  But almost every other main character didn’t even come close to how they’d been pictured in my mind.

But no matter.  The story was great, the dialogue perfection, and everything was as it should be. 

Then came Season 2 and the changes began.  Some were small, like changing Asha Greyjoy’s name to Yara (Gemma Whelan).  This was obviously done to avoid confusing her with the wildling character Osha, who features prominently in Bran’s storyline.  Even bigger was changing who Robb Stark (Richard Madden) marries.  In the book, we don’t get to see Robb’s point of view, so he goes off for a bit, and comes back with a wife, Jeyne Westerling, a meek girl who’s actually kind of dull.  This doesn’t work for TV, so we get to see him interacting with a woman travelling with the army, named Talisa Maegyr (Oona Chaplin).  While this is a drastic change, it makes sense.  We as audience members, can identify with Robb in a way that readers could not, since we never saw inside his head.  So we need to see why he, a man of honor, is willing to break a very important vow to Walder Frey (David Bradley) in order to marry this woman.  By showing us a woman of strength and high moral character, we believe in his reasoning.

The other major change in Season 2 is in the portrayal of The House of the Undying.  I’ll be honest.  I’ve read The Clash of Kings three times, and I still don’t entirely understand what Daenerys experienced in that chapter.  So it was no surprise to me that they did something much simpler and more dramatic in the show.  As much as I would love to have seen what happened in the book, I can’t fault the writers one bit.

And now Season 3 is upon us.  In the first episode, we’ve already had some changes (Sam’s (John Bradley) storyline has already been altered, as has Sansa’s (Sophie Turner) by eliminating the middle man between her and Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen)), and we’ve maintained that we’re still using direct dialogue (Tywin Lannister’s (Charles Dance) response to Tyrion’s request for Casterly Rock).  Knowing that they’ve split A Storm of Swords into two seasons, I expect we’ll continue to see more of both literal adaptation and a few liberties that make the transition from page to screen easier.

No matter what, I’ll be watching week to week as eagerly as I await George R. R. Martin‘s next book.

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