I’m not one of the “Game of Thrones” book readers, so obviously I’m not affected by the fact that HBO has written out some characters and invented a couple of others. I do, however, listen to the fabulous Cast of Kings podcast, which often deconstructs some of the changes from book to series, so I am privy to some of the series’ modifications. From what I can gather, some of the changes in the series have actually been for the best, particularly some of the scenes invented to streamline narrative. Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss are obviously aware of the challenges, and though it took a few episodes to wrap our brains around the introduction of lots of new characters in the beginning of this season, most of those new characters feel familiar enough to us now that it hasn’t been an issue. It clearly didn’t deter from the spectacular “Blackwater” episode.
It thus seems unlikely that the introduction of several more characters in season three — which will cover the first half of A Storm of Swords (which has been divided into two seasons) — will affect our enjoyment. I don’t know what they’re holding back from the novels, but each new character they have introduced has been fantastic. EW has gotten their hands on a list of new characters intro’d in season three, and in a rare instance, this is actually more of a spoiler for book readers because I have no idea who these characters are, while book readers may better understand the shape and direction of season three based upon who is included. (Note that, according to Benioff, this list is not exhaustive, and several others may also be included).
– Mance Rayder: We’ve heard about him all season. A former member of the Night’s Watch who became the “King Beyond the Wall,” the leader of the Wildlings.
– Daario Naharis: A confident and seductive warrior.
– Jojen Reed; Meera Reed: A teenage brother and sister duo with special insights.
– Edmure Tully: A brash young member of the Tully family.
– Ser Brynden Tully (The Blackfish): Catelyn Stark’s uncle.
– Lady Selyse Florent: Stannis Baratheon’s wife.
– Shireen: Stannis’ daughter.
– Olenna Redwyne (The Queen of Thorns): Margaery Tyrell’s sharp-witted grandmother.
– Beric Dondarrion: A skilled knight who is the leader of the outlaw group Brotherhood Without Banners.
– Thoros of Myr: A red priest who follows the same religion as Melisandre.
– Tormund Giantsbane: A Wildling raider.
I should also mention a programming note: The season finale of “Game of Thrones” this Sunday will be extended 10 minutes, presumably to account for applause breaks. Set your DVRs accordingly.
Also, while we’re on the subject, check out this fantastic image — based on Obama’s HOPE posters — that was superimposed on a side of a wall. It was so convincing that George Takei thought it was real and posted it on Facebook.