‘Game of Thrones’: Is the Show Spoiling the Books After All?

     May 24, 2016

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Spoiler Policy FYI: This post is for book readers who also watch the show, or people who don’t mind learning about how things that happen in the books (past or future). I’m going to reference characters that are not in the show briefly, and also reveal what points in the show match up with points not yet revealed in the books, according to showrunners Dan Weiss and David Benioff. Fill the comments with book details and theories if you like. Armed with that info, let’s dive in!

One of the biggest questions before Game of Thrones Season 6 aired was what it would mean for the show to go off-book. There are certain plots that are backtracking into some of the books (like Pyke, Euron arriving, and the Kingsmoot), but most of Season 6’s big reveals have been after the events described in A Dance with Dragons. Game of Thrones has been increasingly divergent from the source material anyway, so there was a feeling that Season 6 might not really spoil the books too much — perhaps this is where two separate stories would be told, based on the same base material (like fanfic, frankly).


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Image via HBO

But now that we’re deep into Season 6, it feels like we’re getting a lot of book spoilers. Weiss and Benioff continue to say that they aren’t spoiling anything … except for “certain key elements.” So, the show will align with the book, but only when it matters … how is that not spoiling the books? Basically it sounds like if you want to read Game of Thrones: The Director’s Cut, you can immerse yourself in all of those full page descriptions of feasts that George R. R. Martin loves, while the show will serve as the Cliff Notes. Here’s exactly what the showrunners said to EW:  

“People are talking about whether the books are going to be spoiled – and it’s really not true,” Benioff said. “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.”

The showrunners also revealed that when they sat down with Martin two years ago to find out a “rough sketch” of how the series was meant to play out and end, they were told three “holy shit” moments: Stannis sacrificing Shireen, Hodor’s backstory, and something that happens at the end of the series.


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Image via HBO

This also seems to suggest that a lot of the changes the show has made — to eliminate characters like Young Griff / Aegon Targaryen, Willas Tyrell, Jeyne Poole, Jeyne Westerling — means they (and theories about their importance to the overall story) don’t really matter. It’s harder to imagine that the direwolves also don’t matter, though the show seems to be gleefully slaughtering them in every episode, so …

Still, there are other moments that feel like things book readers have been waiting on for a long time, like the Jon Snow / Sansa reunion (to start the Starks coming back together, perhaps), as well as Jon’s very resurrection, and him giving up his position as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. That’s not to mention the insane ending of “The Door” with The Night’s King, Bran, and the fate of the Three-Eyed Raven … as well as the dangers of warging while in the past, and the time loop it creates. And the reappearance of Rickon, the death of Roose Bolton, and so much more. Will these happen in the books? If not, it could be very interesting to see how it plays out separately. And yet, surely, these are all key scenes.

Obviously, just like people watching the show have been trying to shield themselves from books spoilers, it’s possible that book readers are boycotting the show now in order to not learn about these things. But even for those of us who enjoy both (for different reasons), it’s been a strange journey this year, seeing things unfold on the show in a way that, to be honest, can feel a little shallow just because of the narrative constraints the show has due to time (and its own choices). And yet, some other reveals have been very satisfying.


Of course, none of this would have been an issue if Martin had published The Winds of Winter already …

So, dear readers, we pose the question — how do you feel about it? From everything we know so far, is the show spoiling the books for you now?


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