For those of us who are diehard fans of the Game of Thrones books, this past Sunday’s episode created massive cognitive dissonance…and for me, massive internal dis-integration. You see, I would like the TV show to adhere tightly to the books’ storyline. I guess that makes me a book purist.
The issue is, I have a small brain. My brain can’t keep track of multiple names for the same character, or multiple plotlines for the same people. For example, Theon’s sister is Asha Greyjoy in the books, but her name is Yara on TV. And Robb’s wife in the books is Jeyne Westerling, while his wife in the movie is Talisa. And they don’t share the same fate — in the book, Jeyne doesn’t go to the Red Wedding and gets pardoned by the Iron Throne afterward, while Talisa does…and gets dead.
Honestly, these changes aren’t that big of a deal. It’s fine if the show’s producers want to call Asha a different name…call her Rigatoni for all I care. And I don’t understand why they switched out Jeyne for Talisa, but ultimately, it doesn’t affect a major storyline. Neither Asha nor Jeyne is going to sit the Iron Throne (at least, I don’t *think* they will). But when you start messing with major plotlines like you did in the April 26 episode, I start to get hot under the collar.
In “High Sparrow,” we see Lord Baelish bringing Sansa to Winterfell, where she is to marry the ex-bastard Ramsay Bolton (well, he’s still a bastard, in the other sense of the word). That doesn’t happen in the book. In the book, Sansa is disguised as Alayne Stone, the bastard daughter of Lord Baelish, and his plan is to marry her to Harrold Hardyng, the current heir to the Eyrie. You can see this for yourself in the latest excerpt from “Winds of Winter” recently published by George R. R. Martin. It’s Jeyne Poole disguised as Arya Stark who marries Ramsay Bolton.
This change is a big deal. To me, Sansa can either be in the Eyrie, or she can be at Winterfell. She can either be married to Harrold or to Ramsay. She can either be Sansa disguised as Alayne, or be Sansa Stark outright. Maybe “RR” (as my husband and I call Mr. Martin) intends for Sansa to eventually raise an army from the Eyrie, and find her way back to Winterfell. Maybe the show is just taking a shortcut, I don’t know. Or maybe it’s actually that Mr. Martin types too slowly on his word processor to keep up with the show. Or maybe Benioff and Weiss (the show’s producers) just didn’t like Sansa-as-Alayne and decided to take wholesale liberties with the major characters (they’ve admitted they will kill off more characters in the show than Martin does in the books).
The thought of people who’ve NEVER read the books watching the show and thinking that’s what really happened irritates me to no end. But what pisses me off even more is the idea that the show could diverge so far as to potentially change the outcome of the game of thrones in Westeros. No one knows what’s really in George R.R. Martin’s head, but the point is…what’s in his head is how the story should go! Period.
I’m hoping that what's in RR's head is Alayne meets a kind husband in Harrold Hardyng, reveals herself to him as Sansa Stark after their marriage, and returns to Winterfell with him to flay the Boltons and send them flying from the towers. And then Sweetrobin dies, Harry inherits the Eyrie, and they will rule two Great Houses between them. You could argue that the show’s producers might have Sansa pretty much accomplish the same thing, so who cares? Well, I care — did the Fellowship of the Ring go through the mines of Moria or not? It matters. The journey MATTERS.
Now there will forever be two parallel universes — the show splits not only reality in Westeros, but also our real reality, the one we live in. There will be a chasm between the people who’ve read the books and watch the show, and the Others: those who watch the show without ever having read the books. I guess there are those who’ve read the books and don’t CARE that the show is diverging (purists vs. non-purists), but they’re really irrelevant. Translation: I don’t know how to feel about them. The point is, I’ll never be able to have conversations about GoT without feeling a slight sense of superiority over the Others. That I am among those who know what really happened. And that just shouldn’t BE.
If there's anything Benioff and Weiss have done for me, it’s this: they’ve given me an excuse to write a messy rant of a blog post that is literally “all over the place.” I can say I’ve taken a page out of their playbook and departed from Adeptia’s usual blogging theme of “data integration” to write a piece that spills my own inner dis-integration out into the digital ocean. So what do you think - should the show follow the books faithfully, or should they boldly go into the unknown, where even the author has not yet tread before?
The only solution I can see is…for George R.R. Martin to stop blogging, and start writing. Faster. Please.