It’s no secret that HBO’s Game of Thrones, though heavily based on George R.R. Martin’s book series A Song of Ice and Fire, is by no means an exact visual replica of the book series. While the author has worked closely from the beginning with the TV show’s creative team, he has been pretty clear that (especially lately) his role is not as active as many fans seem to think.
Which is no real surprise. Telling a story through a novel versus telling the same story through a limited TV show are going to have two very different styles. There are a ton more characters and details in the books that have been purposefully overlooked and combined with other characters for lots of different reasons. I mean, anyone who ever read a Harry Potter book then watched the movies knows that there’s just no way you can pack all that awesome detail (try as you might) into a manageable visual story. Not to mention, Martin is actively writing and finishing the intricate novels themselves and spending all his time on the TV show takes away from that major undertaking.
As the TV show begins to turn the corner towards its (hopefully epic) eventual conclusion, Martin is continuing to distance himself from the creative and character decisions being made in the show itself. This becomes especially true when there are certain moments or storylines that are notably unpopular amongst GoT fans (like, say, Sansa and Ramsay’s wedding night). And it also could be why the author decided to recently release another chapter from his latest upcoming book The Winds of Winter.
According to a Vanity Fair article, Martin has been releasing sections of this book since 2011 (fans of the novels have been waiting a long time for these snippets!). But because there are so many things happening in the TV show, he may finally be sharing more of his book just to prove how different the two storylines actually are. He admits that they’re headed to basically the same conclusion, but will be taking two very different routes to get there. And the timing of his chapter may be a major reminder of that divergence.
If you’re not yet caught up on this season, be aware there are some possible spoilers below. I’m not trying to ruin anything for you, I’m just trying to protect you like Drogon protects Daenerys.
Like, if you felt bad for Prince Doran Martell and Prince Trystane who were both bloody victims to the wrath of the Sand Snakes at the beginning of this season, you’ll be relieved to see that in George R.R. Martin’s version, they’re still happily (though Trystane misses Myrcella — awww!) hanging around Dorne. And that’s just one of the many major changes the TV show has made from the books that Martin is making more obvious in the timing of this chapter’s release.
It’s totally reasonable for the TV show and novel to take two very different paths in order to tell a similar story. Either way, they’re both incredibly fun to enjoy and are filled with rich and diverse characters.
Oh, and Jon Snow lives so, you know, we’re still totally in.