Now that I’m almost through book four in the “Song of Ice and Fire” series by George R.R. Martin, and I’ve watched the first two seasons of HBO's smash-hit “Game of Thrones,” I find myself unable to decide which I like better. Other fans of Martin’s books debate the two all over the Internet, with many believing the show is a big pile of shit. Hardly. The show is fantastic. So, what’s the big deal? Well, the writers made significant changes to the story, often in the interest of better television, and these changes sometimes occurred in key parts of the stories. Sometimes it worked, other times not so much, but should a show or film stay true to its book? This question led me to weight the pros and cons of both. So let’s examine the Game of Thrones books versus film in this fiction collision.
Let’s make one thing clear before we begin. There will be spoilers. If you haven’t read the books or watched the show, but you intend to…look the other way. I might ruin some key surprises for you. Otherwise, let’s begin.
One of the most noticeable changes for me was HBO’s rendering of the city of Qarth. I suppose the question isn’t what they did change, but more what didn’t they change. Nothing about that city and no one in it is how I imagined it while reading. In the books, the character Xaro Xhoan Daxos is white and gay. The show? Completely opposite. Martin’s version of events (aka: the original) had Dany and her riders coming to the city well-rested and secure, not begging for their lives as they do in the show, and her bloodrider Rakharo and handmaiden Irri are still alive when she leaves.
Does anyone recall the dragons being kidnapped in the book? No, I don’t recall that either. But then, the structure of Quarth society—actually, its very existence, isn’t one of the best parts of the novels. Martin’s depiction of Qarth is fantastic, mind you, but the television version made it more…memorable. Making Xaro a handsome immigrant who has the hots for Daenerys and breathing life into the Spice King, made for good television. The dragon-napping? It added almost nothing, in my opinion. The scenes needed more punch, I agree, but the dragons are so vital to the story and to Dany’s character, that removing them at this point in the story made her look like an ass. I wonder though, is HBO planning a warlock versus dragon battle? If so, perhaps the changes are for the better. Stay tuned for season three, right?
Another great analysis. I haven't read the books, but I will while waiting for the next part of the series. I agree on your take on Joffrey, a villain you love to hate. I'm sure when he gets his comeuppance, there'll be cheering across the land (fictional and real),