At San Diego Comic-Con’s Game of Thrones panel, new cast members were announced for the upcoming 5th season and it’s all about the Benja…I mean Martells. Dorne will be featured heavily in the upcoming season, much like in the 4th book, and the repercussions from the death of a certain Prince really spices things up in the southern kingdom of Westeros. But out of the new cast, the most interesting part is the missing character: Arianne Martell. Factoring prominently into the 4th book’s Dorne focused chapters, does her lack of inclusion in the show hint to her not being important in the book’s end-game? George R.R. Martin answered the question when he made the simple point that “the show is the show and the books are the books.” I’m unsure if this has been addressed or mentioned already, but since it’s the first I’ve heard of it and differences between the show and TV series are of constant fascination to fans, I wanted to share my thoughts on just what Martin’s words mean going forward for both Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire.
As I stated earlier, differences between the show and the books are a point of contention for fans, and also fuel a lot of speculation related to either version of the Westeros saga. For the longest time, not having certain characters or events in the show most likely meant those omitted things weren’t important in the long-term in the novels. There was quite a bit of hubbub surrounding the reveal that there’s no plans to include Lady Stoneheart in the show. Knowing Lady Stoneheart is (re)alive and well currently in the novels put fear into a lot of fans that her story wouldn’t affect the books much more if she wasn’t even going to be in the show.
Even the smaller strokes, like changing up the Hounds’ final battle before losing Arya from being against men loyal to his brother Gregor to versing Brienne of Tarth (both of whom have yet to meet in the books) or giving Rob Stark a brand-new character invented purely for GoT as a wife, have either gotten lots of fans in a kerfuffle or they’ve just chosen to roll with it. However, it seems like the broader story strokes and the seemingly importance of some characters hasn’t been changed, leading lots of book fans and show fans wondering about the reason for the changes.
It would be impossible for the show to tell ASoIaF‘s version of the story 100%, so the inevitability of changes was something any book fan was ready for, but the reasoning for some of the changes remained the most puzzling part. But now the why has an answer: George R.R. Martin has stated both the show and books are two different versions of the same coin, making the idea that omitting Arienne Martell and Lady Stoneheart or changing up certain scenes or adding new characters nixes the offended material’s importance in the books now null and void.Instead, while the changes are made to fit the format of TV, the show can be looked at as just enough version of the same events, especially the bigger moments. No one version is more “true” or canon than the other, they are their own beasts. It’s up to you, as it has always been, which version you personally care for more, but it doesn’t make those who enjoy the other version wrong to do so. It also means time to stop writing the hate mail (sorry!) you had planned for the GoT showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss or for George R.R. Martin regarding all the changes.
So as I mentioned before, the broader story beats will stay mostly the same and both versions will end in the same way, but their journeys to the end will deviate in (already) entertaining ways. It just might end sooner on the show than in the books, so precede with caution on how you want to engage the world of Westeros.
(This story fight night ends in a well deserved objective draw! However, you at home get to make your own subjective call on which story wins out in importance to you. No one wins any bets, but everyone wins in the end.)
Ryan is Mynock Manor’s Head Butler. You can follow him on Twitter @BrushYourTeeth.
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