You Should Really Read The Books is a Finickal feature that examines a particular adaptation and compares it with the source material. Get to reading!
Oh, spoilers. Obviously.
We do not mean to be patronizing when we say this. Nor do we mean to imply that you care any less about the fates of our heroes than we do. Yes, knowing about the Red Wedding before it happened did justify the annoying holier-than-thou attitude. However, the blessing that George Martin gave to David Benioff and DB Weiss over at HBO to do as they need to get the characters from A to Z has given book readers a cause for concern.
Dare we continue watching? There is nothing in the world like spending hours inside these characters’ challenging lives to see them finally succeed - do I need a bunch of sex and blood and easy-on-the-ears dialogue to see it happen in a 50 minute episode? The books are so good that it might be worth holding out and waiting like an asshole for George Martin to finally finish writing the series.
Here is a way of describing how fulfilling the books are. My brother wrote this, on the topic:
They can’t, and neither can I. This is not meant to be a compare and contrast piece, although it is bound to happen. Instead I’ll bring the streets, alleys and shops to you in the form of little book nuggets that will hopefully stir your imagination, psych you up for the next season and give credit to characters who were simply not given their due.
Today’s topic is Arya, whose storyline in the last season ties for the Butchery award with Dorne. A moment of silence for Dorne while we're here, please.
Arya's big payoff of slaying Walder Frey was pretty gosh damn anticlimactic. This girl has been to hell and back, and now her plot could be called "Escape From Mop".
On the book side, let’s start with in A Clash of Kings. Her journey is utterly terrifying. In Season 2 of the show, you see Yoren and Lommy’s death, but in no way does it capture what went down. Truly, Arya and her friends were hiding in a tower and Lorch set it to torch, which is standard practice in war. Here’s an excerpt from the end of her escape:
I mean...shit, right? In the third episode of the second season, we see Yoren stabbed and Arya hiding in the bushes before tossing an axe to Jaqen. Not quite the depth of the real horror. This horror - this complete disregard and abuse of power over the smallfolk is seen rarely in the show, but maintains a thematic thread throughout the books.
Here's Ser Jorah with some of that in A Game Of Thrones:
And here, from Tyrion in A Clash of Kings:
One of the most defining traits of ASoIaF and even GoT is the reader/viewer’s allegiance to the major Players. Who do we hate, then love? When you keep getting reminded that people, children, animals and crops are killed off as war currency you tend to hate them all. Especially the ones initiating the war for their gain: Illyrio, Varys, Littlefinger, et al.
Back to Arya: Here’s an unseen character for you: the Ghost of High Heart. She is a woods witch, and likely a descendant of the children of the forest.
Arya meets this crone in Storm of Swords while she is with Dondarrion and the Brotherhood Without Banners. They have bought her prophetic services with a wineskin and a song. After spelling out her dreams which included the Red and Purple weddings, she notices Arya:
Meanwhile, when Arya dreams, she slips inside Nymeria and tastes human flesh. I think most of us book fans are pumped (or at least I am, however naive it might be) for an Arya/ Nymeria reunion. Maybe nothing good will never happen to a Stark again, but one can dream.
Moving on. I want to touch - literally, just touch on the Lannisters. The show has definitely given them time and development (not referring to Tyrion in the last season) but there are moments for each character that simply stand out to me as unique to the books and individual.
First, the books give us a wonderful device that film can only recreate in dramatic closeups and good acting: italics. Peppered throughout the books and heavy in Tyrion and Cersei’s perspectives are thought-italics that show us what our characters are really thinking. Here’s an example that leads to a lovely little nugget of Cersei’s past, and a connection to another scene of the past. From A Feast For Crows, as she plots to get the High Septon on her side:
Makes you think about when Oberyn tells Tyrion about the time he saw Cersei twist his penis. Hmm….
Anyway, this is just a taste - a teensy taste, of the depth of the books. They are infectious. If this was a full time job I would be writing a daily analysis of something unseen and delicious for you, but it isn’t. I am simply a Super Book Fan. The show deserves credit for doing the damn thing, but my smart brother, again, says it well:
The show's great, but it doesn’t touch the books. It’s a cute interpretation. We can’t be mad at it. We can be mad at GRRM for making us fiend for the good shit after five years of waiting, but alas. He's our dealer.
Katie's major fandoms are Harry Potter, A Song of Ice and Fire and Legend of Zelda. She stands out as the only basic girl in her HEMA: German Longsword class.