Many books have been adapted into TV shows and movies, and some have even gone the opposite way, but few have dealt with the divisiveness of HBO’s Game of Thrones versus George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series. Starting in Season 2, the TV show started to diverge from the books in major ways, mostly regarding character moments. New characters were added, many were cut, personalities were adjusted, but most of the story’s larger beats remained intact. As the series has worn on, though, the changes have been such that it’s become easier to think of the TV show and the books are two separate entities entirely.
Still, there has been an assumption that with the show now going completely off of the book source material, and showrunners Dan Weiss and David Benioff possessing the knowledge of Martin’s final story arc, there will presumably be spoilers for fans of the books. Not necessarily, Benoiff told EW,
“People are talking about whether the books are going to be spoiled – and it’s really not true. So much of what we’re doing diverges from the books at this point. And while there are certain key elements that will be the same, we’re not going to talk so much about that – and I don’t think George is either. People are going to be very surprised when they read the books after the show. They’re quite divergent in so many respects for the remainder of the show.”
Honestly, in that context, it doesn’t seem that surprising. First of all, I don’t think that the show is going completely off of the books for the new season — the peeks we’ve gotten of the Pyke / Greyjoy storyline suggest that it will be reversing back into A Feast for Crows territory, which it largely skipped to cover A Dance with Dragons plots instead (which, personally, I do find far more compelling). And to be fair, not all of Weiss and Benioff’s changes have been bad (“Hardhome”’s White Walker sequence, in particular). But many aren’t good (the Jaime/Cersei rape to name but one). So it will be interesting to see what their vision of the show looks like, especially after the controversy they faced last season over portrayals of sexual violence.
For his part, Weiss added,
“What makes the books so great is that George doesn’t make meticulous blueprints for every beat of this story and then fill in the blanks dutifully going from A to B to C, fleshing out an outline,” Weiss added. “At a certain point, we realized we were going to outpace the books and we kind of chose to see it as a great thing on both sides – there’s this amazing world George has created and now there are two different versions, and there’s no reason we can see why you can’t be thrilled and surprised and dismayed by both of these different versions of this world.”
It’s a shame in one way — though no surprise — that Martin’s The Winds of Winter wasn’t released in time to inform the new season of the show, but on the other hand, maybe it’s better? It feels like time for the two stories to really diverge down their own paths, even if the end is the same (and for the record, I don’t for one second believe that Weiss and Benioff feel beholden to stick with Martin’s intended ending). Still, it is a little odd, and I can’t believe that there won’t be something that will spoil book fans while watching the show …
Eventually, whenever The Winds of Winter comes out, we’ll find out. In the meantime let us know, book fans — are you planning on not watching the new season in case there are spoilers?
Game of Thrones returns to HBO April 24th.