Welcome to the book readers’ edition of recapping Game of Thrones! As we established last week, if you haven’t read all of the books (yes, all the way through A Dance of Dragons, it’s been just shy of three years on that count, so it’s fully in play) kindly either depart gracefully or accept that there will be spoilers in what follows.
First off, I’ve got to apologize to Mance. Not six sentences in, and he’s telling Jon that he’s already got my proposed plan of climbing the wall a few miles away in action. Why though, why have they not given more screen time to Mance? You’ve got Caesar, get him in the game. I did like Mance’s insistence that they don’t want to kill anyone, they just want through the Wall for protection, though I would have liked more emphasis on the simple fact that a huge chunk of his army are essentially civilians, that this not an army but a nation, that they don’t want to conquer the wall, they want to settle the North.
And Stannis, as many have noted, finally got to be the Mannis. It would have been nice to have spent less time on the battle last week so that Stannis’ great victory could have taken up more than eleven seconds of screen time, but it got the point across so there was that at least.
The arrival at the tree of the three-eyed crow was much more exciting on screen than on the pages. Though that might be because I’ve been skimming Bran’s chapters at an accelerating pace since somewhere around book two, so maybe I missed where it was actually exciting. Of course this leaves the writers in a pickle next season, and possibly future ones. There is only one more chapter left from Bran’s POV, and nothing much of note happens in it. So unless they spend a few token scenes of him learning to warg better, or they start flat out making up stuff, next season will be from beyond the published point.
I’m thinking though that maybe the reveal of the Night’s King out of nowhere earlier in the season will be their jumping off point for some storylines for Bran next season, whether invented or from the unpublished materials that GRRM told Benioff and Weiss about in the last year.
Cersei regarding the Mountain coming back wrong: “will it make him weaker?” Damn. Show Cersei is far more formidable and interesting than book Cersei, who is vicious, but ultimately just almost laughably incompetent at the same time. Cersei’s no Tyrion when it comes to the game, but she’s far more interesting as a competent player than as one with delusions of grandeur.
Curious though about Jamie and Cersei. By this point in the novels if I’m recalling right, they were splitsies, and she’d moved on to banging pretty boy lookalikes. I suppose there will be a reason to break them up at the start of the next season, because you just can’t have Jamie around while Cersei regents the kingdom into the ground.
Loved the reveal of the incest to Tywin though, because it made his pleading with Tyrion seem almost sympathetic from our point of view, with the realization that he might be serious instead of just trying to wiggle his way to surviving. Though of course it wouldn’t seem that way to Tyrion. And I still just hate the way that they wrote Shae, and trying to make her a stand-in for Tysha. “Wherever whores go”: losing that line because of it just hurts.
It is interesting that for all the time they’ve spent in King’s Landing this season, it’s also the storyline with the most significant events left in the books.
It also struck me how they made Jamie and Tyrion part on good terms. That was a good change, as I never liked that in the book; it just rang false given their relationship. But now I’m rooting for some further changes in Tyrion’s storyline, because I just don’t want to see him in the dwarf circus. I loathed that entire storyline. I fear though that Dinklage will make it watchable, Benioff and Weiss will make some changes that somehow make it even worse, and the whole thing will still wash out to me rolling my eyes and wishing they would just get him in to be Dany’s advisor already.
Oh Arya, and Brienne, and Sandor, oh there aren’t even words to say how wonderfully acted that entire sequence was. And I liked it even more than in the books, which had that whole thing where Arya incompetently tries to sell the Hound’s horse and gets it essentially stolen from her. Instead we have her slip away from Brienne like a ghost, steal her horse (that was totally either Brienne’s or Pod’s horse, right?), and find herself a ship like a boss. I’m glad that they added so much to her and the Hound this season, if only because I really dislike the Cat of the Canals chapters. But there are only five chapters left in Arya’s story in print, so I imagine that the entirety of next season will be her doing her assassin training in Braavos.
And still no Stoneheart, which was an odd choice. I think just about everyone thought that would be the final scene of the season. Though it might give them a hell of a jumpstart if they end the first episode of the next season with it.
And although it will pain you to read it, I can’t help myself from concluding this final Book Reader’s edition thusly: and that’s another season in the books.
I even hate myself for that one.
Steven Lloyd Wilson is a hopeless romantic and the last scion of Norse warriors and the forbidden elder gods. His novel, ramblings, and assorted fictions coalesce at www.burningviolin.com. You can email him here and order his novel here.