‘Game of Thrones’ Book Club: Face the ‘Winds of Winter’ changes

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.


After last night”s episode of “Game of Thrones,” there was a moment where I considered writing this article inversely. It would be shorter to discuss the plot elements in “The House of Black and White” that DIDN”T change from the novels. From the superficial to the story-altering to possible spoilers for “The Winds of Winter,” showrunners David Beniof and D.B. Weiss aren”t afraid to dig into the source material and reconfigure the wiring.


1) Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne find Sansa.

Image Credit: HBO

In the books: To date, Brienne has laid eyes on neither Stark girls. She spends the entirety of “A Feast for Crows” wandering the peninsula between King”s Landing and Harrenhal looking for clues and killing the remnants of the Bloody Mummers.

On the show: With “Game of Thrones” completely caught up with Sansa”s storyline, it”s caution to the wind as a new path is forged. What last week appeared to be a “ships in the night scenario” turns Brienne”s arc on its head when she and Podrick arrive at the same tavern and Sansa and Littlefinger. Brienne offers her services to Lady Sansa, who refuses on the grounds that Brienne is kind of terrifying and both her former charges are dead. However, there”s something about the WAY Sansa requests her to leave that makes me wonder if it”s secretly a cry for help. Would the show dare to have Brienne rescue Sansa from Littlefinger only to have BOTH of them run into Lady Stoneheart?

2) Jamie is to travel to Dorne.

Image Credit: HBO

In the books: This never happens. Or, it hasn”t happened yet and there is much speculation as if this particular arc will spoil part of “The Winds of Winter.” Instead of heading South to rescue his daughter, Jamie heads to the Riverlands to end the siege of Riverrun, route the Blackfish, and rescue Edmure Tully from ineffective threats against the Lord of Riverrun”s life by the Frays.

On the show: If Jamie is headed South, several things are happening at once. The fight between the Tullys and the Frays is being pushed back, probably into next season (or abandoned all-together if “Game of Thrones” opts not to use Lady Stoneheart at all). Without Arianne in the picture, Myrcella's future attempt to flee seems to be heading down the road to a botched rescue mission as opposed to a queen-making coup. If Jamie”s machinations get Myrcella injured, it will only further tear open the rift between himself and Cersei.

3) Bronn”s abandons Stokeworth Manor and Lollys.

Image Credit: HBO

In the books: For all “Game of Thrones” shows excessive violence, they DID skip over the worst of the King”s Landing riots when Myrcella was shipping to Dorne. Lollys Stokeworth was one of the unlucky highborn ladies to be pulled from her horse and gang raped. Always a little slow, and now pregnant, spoiled goods, Lady Stokeworth marries her ‘useless” daughter to Bronn.

On the show: Not yet married, and with Lollys not pregnant nor in need of ‘casting off” to whoever will take her, this scene could merely be introducing the Stokeworth”s to the audience as Falyse Stokeworth will definitely get what”s coming to her by series” end. Jamie”s promise of a much better wife after the mission success could ring false if/when they fail to save Myrcella, leaving Bronn to slink back to Lollys” arms.

4) Arya forced to survive on the streets of Braavos, PRIOR to entering the Guild.

Image Credit: HBO

In the books: Arya arrives at the House of Black and White and is immediately taken in, sheltered, and given over to training.

On the show: Dragging out Arya”s entrance to the House of Black and White perhaps made the least narrative sense, unless it was to show Arya brought low by the twists of fate. Changing the House of Black and White from a public temple of worship that deals with assisted suicide to those in need DOES make the windowless building more mysterious. But it also dilutes some of the mundanity of how the adherents to the Many-Faced God see death as part of life. Re-introducing Jaqen H”gar as Arya”s teacher streamlines his story, but will he still go to Oldtown by the end of “A Dance with Dragons” to keep an eye on Sam?

5) Ellaria Sand is bloodthirsty for vengeance.

Image Credit: HBO

In the books: Oberyn”s lover is exhausted from the never-ending cycle of violence. Each death just begets another round of revenge killings. She urges the Sand Snakes to let it go, lest they too die in their quest for vengeance, with will in turn drive her daughters to avenge their half-sisters down the line.

On the show: As the mother of the older Sand Snakes, Ellaria is their mouthpiece instead of a steady hand. With her desire to hurt Myrcella (and her probably being behind the viper threat sent to Cersei), “Game of Thrones” appears to be setting up a stand-off between the women of Dorne and Jamie Lannister.

6) The “Son of the Harpy” is murdered.

Image Credit: HBO

In the books: We just haven”t gotten here yet. The Sons of the Harpy are still out there, murdering folks at their leisure and sowing dissent.

On the show: In what might be the biggest potential spoiler for “The Winds of Winter,” Dany dispenses justice in the same way Ned Stark would: with little thought as to how the political fallout will result in tears and death. Things quickly begin to unravel as Daenerys realizing queens might have to be politicians after all. Martin”s woven a nice “White Savior” pedestal for Dany, and now it”s time to knock her off and deconstruct the trope.

Odds & Ends Changes:

• While Prince Doran has gout in the books, perhaps there is another ailment for him in the show as usually ‘fat” is visual cue for gout in television.

• Little Princess Shireen and Gilly tell us more about greyscale then we”ve ever learned in the books. Seems unlike it being a normal plague in the books, the show is opting to give the disease magical qualities.

• Jon Snow in elected Night”s Commander in a much more succinct process, instead of drawing the voting out over weeks.

• Drogon appears to Dany on the roof of the Meereen pyramid instead of making his grand debut later in the fighting pits.