‘Game of Thrones’ Book Club: A shocking death and a gloomy forest changed everything

04.13.15 2 years ago


Each week, HitFix Harpy will be hosting the “Game of Thrones” book club. A safe space where readers of “A Song of Ice and Fire” can come to dissect the changes to the series and debate what will happen next. All without fear they'll accidentally spoil something for non-readers. 


We all knew this was coming. The signs have been warning us for months. “Game of Thrones” was quickly butting up against the original “A Song of Ice and Fire” source material and concessions would have to be made.

We just didn”t realize it would be this early on in the game.


In last night”s Season 5 premiere “The Wars to Come,” HBO made two major changes. One could”ve been metaphorically kicking the reveal can down the road. The other may have just irrevocably diverged the show from the books.

Let”s start with the biggest change.

1) Mance Rayder”s Death

Well that escalated quickly! A version of these events goes down in “A Dance With Dragons” but there is far more set up. The show could technically be using the original storyline. However, since the Lord of Bones hasn”t appeared on the show since 2013, it seems unlikely. Besides, a glamoured Rattleshirt did not go to his death with nobility, but begging for mercy. He would”ve gladly bent the knee to save himself from the fire. That leaves the alternative: Mance Rayder is truly dead.

To a point, this makes sense for the show. Rayder”s plot line makes for great reading but becomes convoluted by “ADWD.” I”m not sure HBO”s audience could survive another round of “Ramsay Bolton gleefully breaks the spirit of a man.” With Jeyne Poole never putting in an appearance, it appears “GoT” will be forgoing the subplot of Ramsay”s wife. Without her to rescue, Mance may have outlived his usefulness to the show.

That does leave a major question: Will the showrunners now trim the plot fat that is Jon Snow”s infant shell game? Instead of needing royal blood, does Melisandre only require that of a virgin male, hence her questioning of Jon”s status? Will she merely set her sights on Gilly”s baby?

Image Credit: HBO

2) Young Cersei Lannister Goes Into The Woods

If you all hoped to witness the tourney at Lannisport – getting a fleeting glimpse of the Mad King and Rhaegar in their prime – you were sadly disappointed by “Game of Thrones” first flashback. Gone was the grand festival honoring the birth of Viserys Targaryan, replaced by a dreary hut on the edge of Lannister lands. With no tournament for Maggy to ply her trade at, the girls must trek to her. With no second prophecy, Cersei”s little friend gets to live, but we don”t get to see how sociopathic Cersei was, even as a child. And with no feast during which the King spurns Tywin”s offer to wed Cersei to Rhaegar, how long did she languish in the misconception that Aerys II would wed his heir to the child of a “servant”?

Logistically these changes make sense. It”s far easier to shoot in the woods than to construct a fairground. From a character standpoint, the change does well enough at evoking Cersei”s fearlessness. She might not be the smartest person to ever grace the Seven Kingdoms, but she”s brave and haughty. That combination has buoyed innumerable nobles through their lives.

Image Credit: HBO

With Robin left behind in the care of his nobleman, Sansa and Littlefinger are off into the great unknown. With no sign of Quentyn Martell, Daenerys will be left to deal with the fallout of being a conquerer. With Lord Varys in Pentos, there”s no telling what will happen. Not to mention the inevitable reveal of a Dorne without Arianne Martell (this season).

Strap in Book Club, it”s gonna be a bumpy night season!

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