As with any book to tv adaptations such as has been done by HBO from the excellent fantasy series of A Song of Ice and Fire book one, A Game of Thrones there will always be differences and with differences there will always be some critics. Fans of the books in the series will notice any changes, even slight deviations from the storyline of the novel.
As someone who has read the book and is following the HBO Game of Thrones series with interest I would like to share my thoughts on just how good or bad HBO have adapted what is quite a long novel (though not really by fantasy fiction standards) into ten, one hour long episodes. I luckily have the advantage of watching from not only my own perspective as someone who has read the book but also I live with others who are following the series and are waiting until this season ends to start the books. So I get to see it from both sides sort of.
Things in the episodes that are obvious to readers are not always as clear to anyone who hasn’t yet read it. A good for instance is in a recent episode, when Daenerys is being offered the poisoned wine from the man in the market. While it was obvious to me, surprisingly I was told that for my friends it wasn’t clear if he had switched the wine when he heard who she was to save her, meaning he was planning on giving her poison until he discovered who she was when he then tried to give her safe wine to drink. I didn’t see this until they asked me which was the case. The confusion seems to be that viewers are still not sure whether or not they should trust Ser Jorah Mormont.
Game of Thrones Casting
Personally I do think that the casting for Game of Thrones were excellent choices, especially choosing a relatively unknown actress for the part of Daenerys Targaryen. Sean Bean is almost exactly the Ned Stark I had in my mind but what I particularly like about the casting choices is the actors chosen for the smaller parts, in many adaptations this is less well thought out but not in GOT, each character, no matter how much screen time they have has been well thought out and chosen to stay as true as possible to the character in the novel.
Episodes and Chapters
One of the things that I particularly like about the Game of Thrones series is that it ends each episode with a fairly dramatic cliff hanger right from the first episode with Brans fall. This in itself shows how much attention was paid to George R.R. Martins novels and writing style. The chapters in a game of thrones are quite choppy in that each chapter switches to a new character, it keeps the plot fresh, jumps it around and George RR Martin excels at cliffhangers. Unlike other novels that seem to break for chapters without particularly ending the previous chapter, there is quite a definate start and end to each chapter of the book and the Game of Thrones series takes this concept and has adapted the episodes well to correspond staying true to the book.
The writers for the series have managed to take all the authors cliffhangers and have used the episodes to reflect each well. Of course each episode in Game of Thrones covers more than a few chapters and it could be no other way. Overall I think they have achieved a sense of what it is like to read the book and stay true to the plot.
It would be impossible to fit the rich history of the characters in the series, 10 episodes would never cover the back story of any of the characters let alone the houses without it becoming more like a production for the history channel. George R R Martin is a descriptive author and is one of those writers that can completely immerse you the reader in the surrounding scenery of his fantasy world as well as the lives of the characters. While this is part of what make the series in the novel so well loved, it is something that would be hard to put across on screen. There would be little place for an entire episode to be dedicated to the history of Lord Stark and his long time friend the King but I think the writers again have done the relationship between the two justice.
Similarly if you take the character of Ned, even for someone who has never read the book it is apparent what a just and honorable man he is who is bound to duty and follows it to the letter. He will not budge from what he believes to be right and is pretty much a rule follower. So much so that viewers will find themselves frustrated with the man that he wont at least try to save his skin and sink to the level of some of the other more devious characters just once at least. Viewers might find themselves urging the character to get fired as the hand of the king and return to winterfell, but not Ned. To get such an immediate sense of what a character is like in only a few short episodes in an achievement for the writers and producers of Game of Thrones, the book of course has many pages to instill this sense of Ned in its readers but to do so in the series, I thought was extremely well done.
As far as adaptations go, Game of Thrones has done an excellent job and is sure to please even the most die hard of fans. So if you are a fan of the Game of Thrones HBO, go out and get yourself the novels, or get the set below from amazon
Dont forget your Game of Thrones Bookmarks too!