Game of Thrones Season 3 is just around the corner, and I absolutely can’t wait! Yet whenever I talk to a fan of the books, the conversation always seems to be about the changes HBO has made and how much they suck. Well I, for one, say no more! Yes, there are moves that I question, but there are many more that I like—heck, there are some changes in the television show that I think work better than the story in the books. Yeah, that’s right, I’ll say it. In fact, here are six moments in Game of Thrones that the writers changed and we’re better off for it:
Readers Beware! Here there be MAJOR SPOILERS for future events in Game of Thrones and the Song of Ice and Fire novels!
Aging up the children. When even George RR Martin admits he shouldn’t have made his characters so young at the start of the story, this becomes an easy decision to make. In the novels, Robb and Jon are fourteen. Joffrey is twelve. Sansa and Arya are eleven and nine. Daeneyrs—who is wedded, bedded, and knocked up by Khal Drogo—is thirteen. You can maybe get away with this kind of thing in a book, but imagine a TV show where the story involves legions of soldiers being commanded by high school sophomores and grown men are competing for the hand of a girl who should be at a One Direction concert. It just isn’t going to work.
We Need to Talk About Joffrey. Cersei and Joffrey are two characters we see pretty exclusively from the outside, at least in the early ASoIaF books. We do eventually get to walk around in Cersei’s head and feel the crazy squishing between our toes, but it only happens after Joffery is dead and has become nearly sainted by mommy dearest. Luckily, the TV show isn’t confined by specific character perspectives, so we get to explore the many weird levels of Cersei and Joff’s mother/son, king/protector, sociopath/enabler relationship like the book never allows.
More Wine, Mister Tywin? Out of all the changes HBO made in the TV show, this is my hands-down favorite. When Tywin Lannister unknowingly took Arya Stark to be his cupbearer at Harrenhal, it opened up all kinds of interesting avenues for the characters to interact. It allowed the writers to dump large chunks of exposition, it introduced new tension regarding Arya’s true identity, and it allowed the viewer to see Tywin in a way that made you like him–at least a little bit.
Margaery Tyrell gets a life. In the novels, Margaery Tyrell is a virtual nonentity. She mostly comes across as a pliable commodity getting passed between Lords and, even when we do get a closer look at her, it’s through the eyes of a paranoid, bitter, twice-grieving woman who is terrified of being supplanted. The TV show not only gives Margaery some spunk and sex appeal, but it lets her wear ice cream cone dresses (and I think we can all get behind that).
Jeyne Westerling gets dumped for Talisa Maegyr. I admit that I’m still not entirely sure what to make of Talisa Maegyr, who has replaced Jeyne Westerling as Robb Stark’s shotgun bride. What I *do* know, though, is that Jeyne spends most of her facetime in the books being a characterless plot device. At least Talisa’s got her medieval Clara Barton thing going on and, like Margaery Tyrell, I say dumping passive characters for active ones is a squarely positive change.
WHERE ARE MY DRAGONS?! The “stolen dragons” plotline in Season 2 rubbed a lot of people the wrong way and I honestly get it. Daenerys (not Khaleesi–that’s her TITLE, people, not her NAME) already spends an obnoxious amount of time shouting about dragons, so why give her even more of a reason to be shrill and reckless? Mostly because Dany starts out with a great character arc, but after the spine-tingling epilogue to Book 1, she stumbles around the eastern continent doing jacksquat for THREE FRICKIN’ NOVELS. Watching Emilia Clarke sit around in palaces, receive mysterious prophecies, haggle with merchants, and moan about how hard it is to be a single mother is not exactly scintillating television. So, yeah, maybe captured dragons are a little hackneyed, but I’ll still take it over the alternative every day of the week.