Note: there will only be spoilers for the first season of Game of Thrones here, so if you are like me, and playing catch-up, you are OK to read this article, without me dropping any major Season Three spoilers on you.
For the most part, the Game of Thrones series is actually a great depiction of the novels. We get accurate incarnations of the characters and in some cases, for example, the Spider Varys, we end up seeing a more human side to the figure, as the actor is allowed to bring their own thoughts to the table. In fact, the series actually trims some of the more weighty elements of the books. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed that the books added to this great sense of mythology to this universe, but I couldn’t imagine the series being better if it delved into the history of the ancient dragons anymore. However, there were three little elements that I felt the book made better. I am glad I read the book, because it helped me understand the Game of Thrones better. For example…
3 – RENLY BARATHEON IS MORE IMPORTANT
In the books, one thing that surprised me was how much of a better character, Lord Renly was to the story. For those who struggle with the names of all of the characters, Renly is the King’s brother, who turns out to be homosexual. In the TV series, I never felt too much for the character. He just seemed to appear on the set without making an official introduction. I didn’t even click that he was meant to Robert’s brother, until very late in the season. The homosexual element seemed like a forced story device to make this side character more interesting. I understand that he is a more vital figure in the second season, but I think even there, he would have had a bigger impact on events, if Season One spent a little more time on him.
In the book, we are introduced to Lord Renly very early on. He strides into the scene, as a handsome Knight dressed in shiny armour. Sansa immediately gets attracted to him, as he appears like one of the knights in her fairy tales. This is a point in the book, where the Lannisters comes across as glorified celebrities to the realm, before Sansa realises how evil they are. Renly is one of the kinder characters, even if he turns out to be a little selfish when the throne gets up for grabs. In many ways, it is an important part of the Game of Throne’s overall message: ambition makes everyone around you a threat. Maybe Renly didn’t bring anything new to the first season, but at the very least, he was better to spend time with and that was a trick the first TV season missed.
2 – LITTLEFINGER’S MOTIVES ARE CLEARER
I love Littlefinger in the show; he is one of my favourite characters. He is slimy, deceitful, but has this wit and charm which makes him a little too hard to hate. One of the biggest twists of the first season is that he sets Ned Stark up to be taken into custody the moment he turns on the Lannisters. For the rest of the show, it seems that he is helping Stark, because of his crush on Catelyn. It is another element that makes him a tragic character, as he is obsessed with this woman who he will never have. There are moments in the show, where we realise how twisted his character has become over this ideal dream girl.
In the show, his betrayal seems like a pretty shocking twist and I liked it, because it made his character that little more unpredictable. However, on the book, it is taken to another level. Because, I knew what was going to happen, as I watched the show first, I was able to pinpoint the exact moment that Petyr Baelish changed sides (pretty clever writing upon reflection). When King Robert dies, Littlefinger goes to Stark and lays out a pretty reasonable plan on what to do. Ned wants to give the throne to the cold, calculating and vengeful Stannis, rather than the unpredictable child king, Joffrey. Petyr wants Stark to take the throne and mould Joffrey for it, over the course of three years. However, Stark gets bound by his honour and goes ahead with his own plan. As a reader, we see something click in Littlefinger and that made him such a better character. He isn’t deceitful, because that is his character’s leading trait, but he has this ongoing thought process that makes fairly logical sense. In the future seasons, I shall look out for possible reasons that the character could turn at any moment and that will make Game of Thrones much more appealing to me.
1 – IT IS MORE OF A MYSTERY STORY
When the first episode of Game of Thrones ends, the cliffhanger that hits us throws the audience right into the story. Ned Stark’ son, Bran, accidentally walks in on the queen having sex with her brother. Jaime Lannister pushes Bran out of the window and this is what kicks off the entire plot of the first season (we could argue franchise in general). What surprised me in the book is that they don’t actually reveal who pushes Bran off the window. Bran hears the snippets of what is going on, and an unnamed man attempts to kill him. The entire book is a mystery tale of Ned Stark trying to figure out who is behind this horrible deed.
Of course, the season is about that too, but there, we are in on the ending. In all honesty, I don’t see how the show could have done that scene without giving away who the killers were. It was probably for the best that they were not kept in the shadows, as their characters are given time to develop and the shock at the start was a terrific way to break up the monotony of the constant talking and get us hooked on the season. I just thought it was an interesting fact, giving us a different side to the same story. I also felt that it made Cersei Lannister a much better character. I loved her in Season Two, but in the first season, she felt like the show’s villain, never really feeling too three-dimensional. However, in the book, when Ned confronts her, it becomes clear that she is just looking after her family. Sure, she has a cut-throat way of going about things, but we totally understand her motives. The book made Cersei one of my favourite characters.