15 November 2013

The Nerd Book #1: Game of Thrones Book vs. TV Show

Welcome to The Nerd Book where my good friend Melo joins me on the blog to talk about all the nerdy cool things he likes (and dislikes).
SOOOOOOO BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE, let's all give a warm welcome to my good friend Melo! I figured I needed to add a little bit of something else to my blog so I asked for his help. I'm  so glad he agreed because, hello, DUDE STUFF ON MY PINK BLOG. I was supposed to ask him for a book review of Game of Thrones but since he's not quite finished with it yet, he decided to compare the book to the TV show instead. Check out what he has to say! 

Oh and before I forget! It's his BIRTHDAY today! Ha! You can't call me 'old' anymore, buddy, because now we're both 21. Happy 21st, dude! Keep being nerdy because you're awesome that way! (and because nerds rule the world. Duh) - Sab
            I’m going to go ahead and assume that you clicked this link because you’re familiar with what Game of Thrones is. HBO hit the jackpot when they took on the project of transforming George R. R. Martin’s works into a TV series. The show soon accumulated a large following that made it one of the strongest in today’s TV industry. GoT has often been praised as a show that offers real characters and generates even more buzz with the numerous bloody fight scenes.
            Now I’m not out to compare these two mediums, because that would be just crazy. So here are my top 4 Things That Are Different Between The Book and The Show That Make All The Difference.

#4 Character Age

            In this show there’s a general dichotomy between the characters that separate them into two camps, the adult, and the children. That said without having much mention of the characters ages, we just assume which group they belong to, based on how old the actors look like. You’d be accepting of a character’s action such as leading an army if the actor aesthetically looks like an adult, and you’d be fine with the fact that a woman would be married off, again, because the actress aesthetically looks of age to marry. I’ve done some research and I’ve ascertained the ages of a few key characters of the show.
  • Richard Madden (Robb Stark) 27 yrs. old
  • Kit Harington (Jon Snow) 26 yrs. old
  • Jack Gleeson (Joffrey Baratheon) 21 yrs. old
  • Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) 17 yrs. old
  • Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) 26 yrs. old
            Normally I wouldn’t be bothered to care about what ages the actors are so long as they’re portraying characters well, but as I began to read through the Game of Thrones, I was presented with different characters entirely. What does this mean? For example, Richard Madden as Robb Stark is a grown man and is fully capable of mounting an army of his banner-men and standing in as the head of the House Stark, right? But in the books, Robb stark is but 15.  Another example, Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen kicks off the show by getting married to a Dothraki Khal, which was fine and all as I watched the show, but not so much when I learned she was 13 at the beginning of the book.  Now Kit Harington, who plays the distant bastard Jon Snow, who decides early in the series to dedicate his life to a never-ending vigil, was also 15 at the beginning. Among these actors, it is only Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) whose age is remotely close the age of the character she portrays. Side note, I didn’t even expect Jack Gleeson (Joffrey) to be so old, I didn’t really care. Ha-ha.
            Okay so what now right? Personally, I felt that the actions and roles of these young characters aren’t expressed in their full potential because we assume they’re adults because of their aged actors. A 15 year old Robb Stark leading his house, and leading his banner-men is more respectable IMO, compared to a 27 year old Robb Stark. This can be applied to all of these actors. Seeing them in their intended perspectives versus what HBO has shown us, can lead us to appreciate their achievements (and mistakes) more.  Think about it, Jon Snow dominated Castle Black at the age of fifteen. Could you believe that? It’s a little more impressive than HBO’s 26 year old Jon Snow (who knows nothing). Reading through the book, it becomes clear that Martin focuses on the challenge of the events on Westeros on the younger characters rather than the older ones. We see younger characters take critical roles as a result of their elders being killed, or imprisoned.

#3 The Scene Between Robb and Bran at Winterfell

            Now this was a scene that was omitted in the TV show for some reason. All the viewers saw of Robb Stark when his father left, and when his mother refused to leave Bran’s bedside, was a strong adult that was ready to take up the mantle of the Head of the House. This was established from very early in the first season that Robb would be the acting Stark Head. We never saw any difficulty with his leadership up until Ned Stark’s death in episode 9. Here we have a Robb Stark that is a just an imagery of a strong leader, thrust into the helm of House Stark because of the absence of his father, and without difficulty.
            Now this is all well and good, but they didn’t show us a scene from the book that showed a different side of Robb Stark. During the period when Caetlyn Stark left Winterfell in order to pursue Tyrion Lannister, Robb was left to be in charge of Winterfell, and his brothers Bran and Rickon. The book graces us with a scene between Robb and Bran after one dinner, where Robb carried Bran up to his room. In this exact moment, Robb stark kills the flame of Bran’s bedside candle to allow him to sleep, we then proceed to the scene where Rob quietly sobs in the darkness beside his brother’s bed.
            In the darkness with no one else to witness his pain, we see the effects of the events on a young Robb Stark. In the book, Bran reaches for his brother’s hand as the chapter ends. It shows a deep bond between brothers, and the vulnerability that Robb had hidden for much of his term as acting Stark Head. This is a side of Robb that you would not be aware of unless you read the book. This scene made me appreciate him more as a character because we are shown the humanity and realness of Robb Stark in just one scene. Now why in the seven hells would they leave this out?

#2 Lady’s Death

            This was a heartbreaking part of the show, which is saying something considering it occurred in the second episode. Way to start a series with such a downer. Ahem, sorry. In the episode of King’s Road we become witness to a conflict between Starks and Lannisters that would be the beginning of a long conflict. I will no longer delve into these events, because you should know this if you’re reading an article like this. This was one casualty that really struck me hard. How could a dire-wolf die so early? They seemed to be central to the Stark’s plot, yet here we see one being put down because Joffrey got beaten up by a girl (this was where my hatred for Joffrey started).
            Now what’s the difference between the book and the show for this one? Well it’s only a miniscule difference, but it spoke volumes to me. In the show we see Ned Stark executing Lady with a dagger from his belt. The camera pans up towards his face as he motions a slice of his knife, and kills the dire-wolf off-camera. What we are left with is the lingering sound of Lady’s last cry. Which is all well and dandy, however, in the books, Ned asks Jory to bring him Ice. Remember that big broadsword he used to execute the Night’s Watch deserter in the first episode? That’s Ice. Imagine it, he executed a dire-wolf (which was just about the size of a fully grown dog at this point) with that same sword. I immediately thought it was overkill to use Ice in such a manner, but what made the absolute difference for me was what happened next.
            We never heard about what happened to Lady in the show, but in the books, Ned specifically instructs Jory Cassel to take 3 Stark men and bring Lady’s body all the way back to Winterfell, and this was because of two things. 1., Cersei explicitly expressed her desire to receive Lady’s pelt as recompense for her son’s wounds, and 2., because, and I quote Ned Stark, “… she is of Winterfell.” Forget it, you can just give him an award for this. This is an early indicator of Ned Stark’s unwavering loyalty. This made a world of difference for me.

#1 Chilled Milk, Sweetened With Honey

            The top of the list belongs to something that blew my mind completely. Upon arriving at King’s Landing, Ned Stark begins his investigation on the sudden unexplained death of his predecessor and mentor, Jon Arryn. Now while the show did well by showing us his numerous conversations with members of the small council, and a bastard of King Robert, they failed to show us something that I would really have wanted to see in the show.
            In the books, when Ned Stark visits Maester Pycelle for the first time he is offered a refreshment of CHILLED MILK, SWEETENED WITH HONEY. I had to read it again to be sure. That sounds like the most amazing beverage I have ever heard. HBO, you should’ve included this in the show, it would have gotten way more views immediately had you introduced this revolutionary beverage from early on. That’s how you win over viewers! Well, I would’ve liked it.
            Lastly, HOW IN THE HELL DID THEY CHILL MILK? I think Martin owes us some sort of explanation for this one. I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of how they could possibly cool some milk to a chilly level in King’s Landing, which is described to be as one warm place where people barely wear any clothes. My theory is that they have some sort of container that they use to store snow which they gather from the northern provinces, maybe this was King Robert’s primary reason for making a trip to Winterfell, heck, put in the same position, I’d be willing to make such a long trip if only to enjoy this seemingly glorious drink. Cheers!

(Last thing: Anyone know how I can change the signature at the end of this post? It's embarrassing but, yeah, I don't know how to work my own blog. -Sab)


  1. Great post, Kuya Melo!

    I think the change that I was the most disappointed about was Tyrion Lannister, In the book, he was very bookish with his famous quote, "The book is to a mind like a whetstone is to a sword" and I really wanted to see that in the TV show. His relationship with Jon Snow wasn't also touched upon in the show and that was pretty disappointing.

    The way he was introduced was also so different! I believe his first scene was being surrounded by whores in Winterfell but in the book, his acrobatic skills were so cool!

    Can't wait for the next The Nerd Book post! :)

  2. Heyo Kayla!

    Thanks for the read!

    I know what you mean about the whole Tyrion thing, he's depicted as way more physically unattractive in the books (which Peter Dinklage is not ). I also feel that they left out so much from the Tyrion interactions at the wall, key convos between Tyrion and Lord Commander Mormont and so on. I'm guessing there's tons more of differences that I have yet to encounter, so just hold on for that! :D

    More Nerd Book coming soon!
    Thanks again. :D

  3. Great Post!

    I think they had to cast older actors in the roles because otherwise they would have had to cut half the scenes out. You cannot have a child actor acting out a forced marriage, impregnation, love story (with a full grown man.) The fire scene with the dragons would have had to have been cut because you can't have a naken child on the screen. These scenes are important, the theme of re-birth after all Danny has been through is important for the rest of the story. The same can be said of all the characters.

  4. Hi Kate!

    Thanks thanks.

    I hear where you're coming from, and I agree. But it draws attention to the limitations of the TV show as a medium, even when it's HBO. The elements seem more potent in the books because of the realities of the characters, and that is what makes the character developments much more amazing.

    This shows that even a production network like HBO, with all it's successful shows that breach limits again and again, has limitations that cannot be overcome. :)

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