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How Far Has Game Of Thrones Veered From The Books?

The wildly popular TV show Game of Thrones is based on George R.R. Martin's epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. From a planned total of seven novels, five have been published at the time of this writing, and all of them have now been adapted into the first five seasons of the show. While the series has done an excellent job in adapting the vast, complex world Martin has created, it is not without significant differences. Here's a list of some of the biggest deviations from the source material. The following contains a ton of spoilers—you've been warned!

The Ages Of All The Children

The first book begins 14 years after Robert Baratheon took the Iron Throne, usurping generations of rule by the Targaryens. In the show, they shift the time frame to seventeen years later, probably due to the sensitive nature of portraying young children in violent or sexual situations. Specifically speaking, this change might be most important in the case of Daenerys Targaryen, who in the books is only 14 when she is wed to the domineering Khal Drogo.

Robb Stark's Wife Is A Completely Different Person

In the books, Robb Stark is injured in battle and tended to by Jeyne Westerling, the daughter of a Lannister bannerman. He falls in love and quickly marries her before anyone knows about her, which ruins a crucial alignment he previously made with Walder Frey.

In the show, he similarly ruins this alignment; only his wife is Talisa Maegyr, a healer from Volantis who he encounters while she is treating his enemy soldiers on the field. They are married quickly and secretly as well, though his mother and fellow bannerman are acutely aware of his growing affection for her over the course of several episodes.

Brienne Of Tarth Never Really Succeeds In The Books

Brienne of Tarth's TV representation may have the most deviation of any character. In the books, her biggest achievement is the (relative) safe return of Jaime Lannister to some loyal bannerman at Harrenhal. After that, she's dispatched by Jamie to find Sansa Stark, a mission at which she ultimately fails.

In the show, she travels with Jamie from Harrenhal to King's Landing and attends Joffrey's wedding before setting out on her quest to find Sansa. On her way to the Eyrie, she stumbles upon Arya Stark and the Hound, defeating him in a fight, but losing Arya in the process. She never finds Sansa, instead travelling to Winterfell to await her eventual return, which fortuitously puts her in the position to avenge her beloved Renly Baratheon. Renly's killer, his own brother Stannis, suffers a defeat trying to siege Winterfell, leaving him injured on the battlefield, whereupon Brienne encounters him and finishes the job.

Gendry Becomes Edric Storm

Two of Robert Baratheon's many illegitimate children are merged into one character for the TV show. Gendry is a blacksmith's apprentice from King's Landing who meets Arya Stark while traveling to the Wall to join the Night's Watch, all of which happens in both the books and the show. Edric Storm does not appear on the show at all, as he is a relatively minor character in the novels, despite being the only acknowledged bastard son of Robert Baratheon.

The show merges these two characters' storylines when Melisandre retrieves Gendry from the Brotherhood Without Banners (where he permanently stays in the books), and brings him to Dragonstone to use his blood in a ritual. Ultimately, she decides to sacrifice him to the Lord of Light, at which point Davos smuggles him out in defiance.

Jon Snow Isn't Exactly A Gallant Hero

Jon Snow's character trajectory takes some major turns from the source material, mostly when he becomes Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. After this happens, Jon heroically leads missions to both Craster's Keep and Hardhome. He does neither in the books. During this time, Jon is mostly preoccupied with what he believes is Arya Stark's marriage to Ramsay Bolton. He enlists the help of Mance Rayder and Melisandre to rescue her, eventually choosing to abandon the Night's Watch to ride for Winterfell, which is the real reason behind the mutiny of his men. Choosing to cut all of that out, the showrunners were presumably eager to introduce the nightmarish army of White Walkers while ramping up the martyrdom of Snow's stabbing (death?). In doing so, they significantly truncated Mance Rayder's role.

Mance Rayder And Jon Snow Actually Work Together

On the show, Mance is captured relatively easily by Stannis' forces. He is then burned at the stake by Melisandre as a sacrifice to the Lord of Light until Jon mercifully ends his suffering with an arrow to the heart. In the books, Mance Rayder doesn't surrender easily and actually has a wife and child with him. His wife dies in childbirth and Jon sends Mance's son to Oldtown with Sam, Maester Aemon, and Gilly to protect the child from Melisandre. Mance is never actually burned at the stake, instead he is transformed by Melisandre's blood magic to look like another wildling, Rattleshirt, who is sacrificed instead of Mance. Mance is then sent with a small crew of wildlings to Winterfell to rescue Arya Stark.

The Show Reveals A Lot More About The White Walkers

Referred to almost exclusively as "the Others" by everyone in Westeros in the books, the show has every character using the term "White Walkers," which is the Wildlings' preferred name for them. They are shown in much larger numbers on the show, appear to have a king or leader-figure, and are actively advancing on the Wall. In the books, they have yet to appear in advanced detail, only staging sporadic attacks and with no specific leadership. There is also no definite explanation in the books of what they do with Craster's sons, or any type of creation or conversion ritual as the show has depicted.