When this show premiered, I was thrilled. As I wrote earlier, I had not read the book, even though I should have. So I picked up the audio book and started listening to the tale just before the series began. As I watched the first episode, I thought it would be a fun experiment to try to listen to just enough book that it would be fresh in my mind to enhance the television series.
Now that I have a few episodes to cover, I thought I would share my thoughts on my experience.
First off, let me say, this is an experiment I won’t try again. While it is fascinating to see the differences first hand, I think its taking more away from both experiences than I want. It’s also, quite challenging.
The show does NOT follow the order of the book. This makes it difficult for me to guess when to stop reading. It is flowing at a different pace all together. The basics are the same but they are in different order. Occasionally something jumps way ahead or doesn’t happen till the next episode. While I have managed to keep pace fairly well, I always see something in the show that I have not read yet, and vice versa. This is to be expected, considering the challenges to make a television show flow. While I can read seven or more chapters and never see Daenerys Targaryen, people will expect to see her in every episode. (Note: This was written before I watched the fifth episode and they through that theory out the window.) The pace and flow of the two will be significantly different.
The casting for me is hard to truly call. Earlier, (see my last post) I said the casting was spot on. I can no longer say that is true. My first impression of Varys in the books is much different than he was portrayed on screen. The biggest flaw in the HBO version from what I have seen and read however, is the Imp. The description of Tyrion Lannister in the book is a deformed and limping dwarf. Let me state for the record, that I love Peter Dinklage’s acting and his version of the Imp is great. It isn’t George R.R. Martin’s Tyrion, it is the Peter’s. He is, by far, the most graceful actor born with dwarfism and therefore he handles playing a dwarf with a certain grace.
The biggest issue I have with my opinion of these characters and the actors portayals is, it really is not mine. I was influenced by the show before my imagination had created the images of these wonderful characters. So don’t take my word for it, watch it yourself. See if they stand up to your imagination.
I really love the sets. There is nothing overly fantastic and artificial about them. They are completely realistic and believable while existing in a fantasy world. I would actually like to see more camera angles of some of these places. As for my expectations of a few of them however, they just do not live up to my expectations. This is rare and it doesn’t ruin the show but they do exist. I was particularly disappointed with the Eyrie. It is supposed to only be reachable by narrow mule trails that anyone, with even a mild fear of heights, would not want to traverse. This path is guarded by three way stations which are actually small castles. The set in the series is beautiful and awe inspiring and if I had not read the book, I would love it. I am reading the book and it, unfortunately fell short.
While the casting and the sets are important, the real story is in the content. This is where I have had the most issues. The books are SO much more descriptive and full of life. So many scenes were trimmed, cut or changed to either save time, effort. I won’t spoil it for anyone who want to read the books, but let’s just say that they missed out on a few key things. The relationship with John Snow and his family is my biggest complaint. Next to that there is not enough of Bran’s dreams or the dire wolves.
The recent scenes with the joust were disappointing as well. Those scenes should have gone much differently. It builds the relationship of Sansa Stark with her Prince and his Dog. On the plus side, I love the HBO version of Syrio Forel. The scene with him and Arya Stark is wonderful.
After the latest episode I have one more complaint on content. I have yet to read anything stating that Renly Baratheon is homosexual. This is not a homophobic statement. It is the same complaint I have had with many other films and shows based on someones work. From the reinvented story of Arwen in Lord of the Rings, to the giant Iguana that gives birth to raptors in the movie that someone had the sheer audacity to call, Godzilla. This drives me crazy. You don’t need to add to a story that you already cut content out if. This relationship was an unnecessary addition and change. HBO, Dan Weiss and David Benioff didn’t have to add this relationship, to shock us or, to try and draw in a demographic. I think that George R.R. Martin wrote enough sex into his tales. Maybe I am wrong? Perhaps, later in the story we will find that Renly is living a secret life, that he doesn’t want his big brother Robert to know about. But I don’t see that coming.
On a positive note, the scene with Lysa and her son Robert was something I didn’t expect to see on the show and was glad they put in. Not because I wanted to see it, but because they needed to develop how crazy that was. Serious WTF moment in the book and the show.
So to answer a comment on my earlier post, YES, read the books, Jade. You won’t regret it but you may lose a bit of love for the show.
Not nearly enough to stop watching though! The heart of the story is there. It is a great show and far better than most television out there right now. I think the acting and filming is superb. Heck, that brief glimpse of a dragon skull alone, was enough to keep me watching!
Enjoy and remember, Winter IS Coming!
Now, if I could just get my wife to make me my Tom Baker, Doctor Who scarf, I would be ready!!