I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Westeros recently.  The Game of Thrones series on HBO has now aired episode 7 of 10.  I’ve also just finished rereading the four published books of the series.  That is about three thousand pages of material

One of the keys of the books is that they are told from a very limited omniscient narrative POV.  Each chapter has a different POV character and everything witnessed or felt comes entirely from that character’s POV although told in a 3rd person form.

The eight POV characters is the first novel are 6 of the 8 members of the Stark family plus Daenarys Targaryean and Tyrion Lannister.  Neither Robb nor Rickon Stark are POV characters, but Bran, Arya, Sansa, Jon, Ned and Catelyn are.

One of the surprising aspects of the show is that scenes occur with none of these eight characters present.    An effective scene from this week was a conversation between Jaime and Tywin Lannister.  It gives an insight into these characters that is decidedly different (but not incongruous) from the books.  Previous episodes had similar new scenes.  I think the most effective was one between Cersei and Robert Baratheon.

Other than these added scenes, it is pretty remarkable how close to the books the mini-series has held.  There are lots of small details diferent, but motivations, scenes and plot are almost note for note.  Much of the dialogue is also lifted straight from the books.

If you go to the http://www.westeros.org site they have in-depth book-to-screen analysis of each episodes that compares chapter-to-scene.

The biggest change is a shift in how Cersei Lannister is portrayed.  In the books, she gets no POV of her own (SPOILER – at least until the fourth book ).  No character views her sympathetically in the first book.  But in the show, while still the main villain of the piece, there are several more approachable angles to her character.

Episode 7 has the second big turn of the series.  That was exciting to see.  There is one left (in my reckoning) in this series, but it will not happen until the final episode.  Between now and then there is a lot left to happen.  I outline some of those events below.  Note: what follows is giant SPOILERs for the end of the book and the mini-series:

  • Ned – there is only one big Ned scene left.  He needs to make a deal with the Lannisters.
  • Tyrion – Lots.  The first infantry battle is from his POV.  He needs to make friends with the Mountains of the Moon clansmen.  He needs to meet Shae.
  • Daenarys – Lots.  The assault on the city.  Her saving of the slaves.  The injury and illness of her husband.  Finally the scene that will occur as the last in the series.
  • Jon – The big scene needed is the attack of the wights.  There is also a scene where he deserts and comes back.
  • Bran – Bran does little for the rest of the book, but his POV is used to show Robb’s preparations for war.
  • Catelyn – This picks up where Bran’s POV left off.  She follows Robb at teh start of his war with the Lannisters and his big contract with the Freys.
  • Sansa – The turn causes a big shift in Sansa’s POV chapters.  There are bad things to happen to her.  her big scene is barganinng for the life of her father.
  • Arya – She has some big scenes next episode during the big fight in the castle.  Then she has the climatic events in King’s Landing from her POV.

2 thoughts on “Westeros

  1. Linda H says:

    I just finished book 1 (Game of Thrones) and I am totally hooked. Went out and bought the other three. I didn’t even know there was a mini-series until recently so I missed out on PVRing it. I like your way of describing the format and thanks for the link to westeros.org. Look forward to your next review!

    • Book five hits in July but it is a bad series to read if you want to see the end. 🙂

      I think it is a great read regardless.

      I’m sure I’ll blather about the last three episodes too!

      If you like aSoIaF, Joe Abercrombie’s Blade itself trilogy is the closest in type to it, but it lacks a lot of the heart.

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