Yet another season of Game of Thrones has ended. One of the most engaging shows on television has, for another year, left me wanting even more. And, for the first time since the show began, I’m left wondering exactly what to expect.
Having been a fan of the books for well over a decade, I’ve read all five books and waited (rather impatiently) for the next in the series to be released multiple times. I’m now doing the same thing with the show, but it’s slightly different this time.
*Note, there will be some book spoilers below*
The show-runners have changed the events considerably from the books. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as sometimes the books were a bit bloated (I’m looking at you, Dance With Dragons!), but in doing things they have dropped numerous plots and characters. They’ve also, of course, added some things that weren’t in the books at all. In the season finale, for example, Brienne fought the Hound in a thrilling, awesome battle. So far as I can remember in the books, Brienne never met the Hound, let alone fought him. Arya did still leave him broken and dying, but the situation was different. Some of the changes the show has made, though, have been either to advance the chronology of the books or slow down some of the plot lines.
Most of Daenerys’ arc in series four of the show took place in book five (though there is still plenty left to tell next season), as did Bran’s. In fact, the show pretty much left Bran in the same situation as the end of book five, so what will happen with him and the Children is a mystery to me. I’m just thinking of how the Children will be incorporated further into the books and the show (see what I did there?). On the other hand, there are still things from book three left for Arya and Jon Snow and the rest of the Night’s Watch. There’s also a whole plot with Thoros of Myr that has been dropped from the show that happened it the later books. With all the scrutiny and rumours about casting and the actors on the show, however, I can’t see this particular story appearing in the show, at least not with Catelyn Stark reappearing as she did in the books (see, I told you there’d be spoilers!).
What all this has left me wondering, then, is where is the show heading? With the show posting record numbers of viewers (and illegal downloads), it has now officially become HBO’s most popular show ever. Deservedly so, I think, since it has been fantastic. The creators have also talked about how they want the show to last seven seasons (see these two Entertainment Weekly interviews, here and here that detail the end of season four and future possibilities for the show). Seeing as how there are supposed to be seven books, two of which haven’t been written and released yet, the show is rapidly coming to the point where it overtakes the books as source material. It has already done so with Bran, so in some respects I’m starting to feel like the people who can only react to the show (YouTube has some videos of people’s reactions to the Red Wedding and Viper and Mountain scenes which are hilarious). I kind of like that feeling — exploring the unknown, awaiting each new episodes for its secrets rather than adaptation qualities and following these characters into uncharted regions (wow, that sounded a bit like Star Trek to me, but then again, I am a Trekkie, too). I don’t think I’ll ever be as awestruck as the people in YouTube, though. If you haven’t figured out yet that people — and often a favourite character — die off at a prodigious rate, you haven’t been paying attention. Everyone dies, it’s just a matter of how George R R Martin does it.
There’s a excerpt from book six, Winds of Winter, available on Martin’s website. Obviously there is more to the book, which I’ve heard rumoured won’t be published until at least 2015, but it can possibly satiate those of you who are eager for more. I’m going to wait until the book is released to read it, though, for I want the context of where it fits into the story. Of course, whether that makes it into season five (or maybe six) of Game of Thrones remains to be seen. But I’m excited for all of it.