The Game of Thrones fan-base is one of the most dedicated in the world, with a viewership averaging at 6-7 million during the past three seasons. Unsurprisingly, a large portion of these diehard television fans have not read the source material (to be fair, there are over 4,000 pages to read – and more yet to come).
Though colloquially referred to as Game of Thrones thanks to the television adaptation, the book series is formally titled A Song of Ice and Fire, with A Game of Thrones merely being the first installment. For the first two seasons, the creators held close to the source material – adapting A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings into seasons one and two, respectively – but in the third and subsequent seasons, things changed.
Huge plot points and developments were left by the wayside, and new, show-specific arcs were inserted in lieu (remember Jaime and Bronn’s infamous adventures in Dorne? Blissfully not in the books). Some of the biggest exclusions – well-intentioned or otherwise – come from beloved characters in the books who are mysteriously absent in the series, much to the chagrin of the book mega-fans. Here are 15 Game Of Thrones Characters Only Book Fans Will Know.
15. Jeyne Westerling
Not to be confused with Jeyne Poole – who kind of/almost appears for a brief moment in the first season as Sansa’s best friend – Jeyne Westerling is Robb Stark’s bride in the books. Now, this list doesn’t cover artistic liberties the screenwriters have taken with George R.R. Martin’s characters: the adaptation of Robb’s wife is less of a shift in perception and more a completely new character.
It’s hard to find any similarities between Jeyne Westerling and Talisa Maegyr, beside the obvious. Where Jeyne is shy and tentative, Talisa is fierce and determined. Far from meeting his future bride at a war camp, Robb first encounters Jeyne while staking out the ancestral keep of House Westerling. Suffering minor injuries, Robb is nursed by Jeyne and – after hearing about the supposed death of his two younger brothers – seeks comfort and sleeps with her. Guilt-ridden and morally upright, Robb marries Jeyne, to the dismay of his army, the Freys, and his mother. It is this action that ultimately leads to the book’s version of the Red Wedding.
14. Edric Storm
Edric Storm is the infamous bastard of Robert Baratheon and Delena Florent (cousin to Selyse). There are a few Baratheon bastards glimpsed at in the TV show, but there’s no hint of Edric Storm. On the night of Stannis Baratheon’s wedding to Selyse, Robert took it upon himself to christen his brother’s marriage bed with Delena, resulting both in Edric Storm’s birth and Stannis’ unrelenting disdain.
Because his mother, Delena, was a noblewoman, Edric is a publicly acknowledged bastard, unlike his more TV-familiar half-brother, Gendry. He took the surname Storm because – as book-readers know – a bastard’s surname is determined by the geographical location they were raised. Edric was sent to Storm’s End to be fostered by Renly Baratheon, with whom he shares a striking resemblance to. Though Edric is arrogant, curt, and proud, he is devoted to his father (and later, his father’s memory) and is determined to live up to his legacy. Taken to Dragonstone after the siege of Storm’s End, Edric manages to escape his encampment when Stannis becomes too familiar with R’Hllor’s tradition of burning innocents.
13. Strong Belwass
Known for letting each opponent cut him once before they die, Strong Belwass is an undefeated fighter, famed for his turn in the fighting pits of Meereen. Illyrio Mopatis – the calculating matchmaker who helped arrange Daenerys’ marriage to Khal Drogo and was briefly glimpsed in the first season of GoT – sends Belwass and Ser Barristan the Brave (disguised in the books as Arstan Whitebeard) to aid and dissuade Daenerys as she prepares to invade the cities of Slaver’s Bay.
Belwass is described as huge – weighing an estimated twenty stones – tan, gap-toothed, and with a massive, exposed belly that showcases the scarring from the cuts of his opponents. He is the warrior Daenerys chooses to champion her when she besieges Meereen; not the show’s substitute, Daario Naharis. Daenerys feels Belwass is the most expendable of her men, and also has the highest chance of success – and succeed he does, severing his opponent’s head and holding it up for the crowd to see.
Belwass remains a strong ally of Daenerys, serving as a member of her Queensguard and even surviving eating a bowl of poisoned locusts intended for her. He’s a fierce, unconventional ally who is conspicuously absent from the show.
12. The Seaworth Sons
Because of his unwavering (and perhaps unjustified) dedication to Stannis’ cause in the show adaptation, it’s not unreasonable assumption for a viewer to make that Davos Seaworth is not a big family man. There is an exchange between Davos and Melisandre in the second season that alludes to a wife, and his son, Matthos, has a recurring role in that season as Stannis’ squire and scribe. Unfortunately, by the end of the second season Matthos is killed off – a casualty of the Battle of the Blackwater – and Davos is left childless. This helps fuel the bond between himself and Stannis’ heir, Shireen.
In the book, however, not one but four sons die at the Battle of the Blackwater – a huge blow, except that Davos still has three more sons. The grief from losing four sons is a major driving factor in Davos’ dislike and distrust of Melisandre, and as a point-of-view character in A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Dance with Dragons, it’s evident how much his family means to him.
One of the more bizarre and foreboding figures in A Song of Ice and Fire universe, Patchface is the court fool for Stannis Baratheon, and is easily recognizable from the assortment of red and green squared tattoos across his face.
As a young boy – a slave in Volantis – Patchface was clever and quick, and his freedom was bought by Steffon Baratheon, father to Stannis. Within sight of Storm’s End, the ship carrying Patchface and he was the only survivor, washing up two days later, clammy and pale. After the accident, he never retained full function of his mental faculties, and is known to burst into song – which usually seem to contain some strange, convoluted and lilting insight.
There is a particularly foreboding song he repeats throughout A Clash of Kings, which has variations such as: “Under the sea, smoke rises in bubbles, and flames burn green and blue and black. I know, I know, oh, oh, oh.” There are many theories that his songs are prophetic in nature, and Melisandre herself think he’s dangerous. He is close with Stannis’ daughter, Shireen, who affectionately calls him “Patches.”
10. Kettleblack Brothers
The only identifiable Kettleblack brother in the show is a glimpse of Osmund in the fifth season, standing in as a member of the Kingsguard. The book provides a much larger role for the three brothers. Ser Osmund is a pronounced knight, claiming to have gained knighthood by the conveniently deceased Ser Robert Stone. His brothers Osney and Osfryd are less prodigiously entitled, but all three brothers come to King’s Landing as sellswords and are quickly employed by Queen Cersei. During this time, they’re also employed by Tyrion, to keep tabs on his sister.
Unaware of their double-crossing, Cersei endears herself to the brothers, naming the remaining two brothers knights after the Battle of the Blackwater. Using sexual manipulation and grandiose promises, Cersei coerces the Kettleblacks to do her bidding – she has Osmund lie in testimony at Tyrion’s trial, all three brothers dispose of Shae’s body, and eventually she convinces Osney to steal into the Sept of Baelor and kill the High Septon.
Cersei loses her grip on the Kettleblacks when the High Sparrow imprisons her and tortures Osney into admitting Cersei’s hand in the Septon’s death. When rumour spreads that the jailed Cersei bedded all three Kettleblack brothers, the remaining two are thrown in prison alongside Osney.
Though the basis of her character made a cameo during the Purple Wedding episode in the fourth season, Penny does not appear in the television series. Penny and her brother Oppo are dwarf entertainers, and – like in the show – they are called upon to perform at Joffrey’s wedding, much to the chagrin of his uncle Tyrion. The two joust one another while riding atop at pig and a dog, respectively.
Petyr Baelish was manipulating things behind the seasons with these performers, in order to infuse tension between Tyrion and Joffrey prior to Joffrey’s murder at Petyr’s hand. Oppo is mistakenly murdered by men hoping to seek out the hefty reward for Tyrion’s head. Penny, however, reappears in A Dance with Dragons.
Unlike the television show, Tyrion’s initial journey into Slaver’s Bay is under strict watch by the mysterious Griff, and later – after being discovered in a brothel – as a prisoner of Jorah Mormont. It is during his time with Jorah that they are captured by Yunk’hai slavers and he connects with Penny – who prompts attacks him, believing him to be responsible for Oppo’s death. The two suffuse their tensions and eventually develop a bond as they are sold into the slave trade, later escaping and joining the Second Sons.
Season six’s reveal of Benjen Stark being (somewhat) alive and horribly frostbitten has somewhat re-imagined the book’s depiction of Coldhands. Dressed as a Night’s Watchman, Coldhands has (you guessed it) cold, black hands and keeps his face hidden from view. He first appears in A Storm of Swords and protects Samwell, Gilly, and Gilly’s child as they flee Craster’s Keep. In the show, it’s Sam himself who kills a White Walker. Coldhands addresses Sam as “Brother”, so it’s a fair assumption that Coldhands was once a member of the Night’s Watch.
Coldhands’ second appearance comes during A Dance with Dragons, encountering Bran, Jojen, Meera, and Hodor when they travel North of the Wall. He takes them to see the last greenseer (television watchers: the Three-Eyed Raven). Bran uses his powers as a warg and goes into Summer’s skin, disliking the way Coldhands smells – “dead meat, dry blood, a faint whiff of rot.”
Coldhands is the one who stays to fight off wights when Meera, Jojen, Bran, and Hodor pass through the entrance to see the greenseer; in the show, it is Jojen who does so, which ultimately leads to his death.
7. Quentyn Martell
Quentyn is the second child and first son of Doran Martell, Prince of Dorne. His younger brother, Trystane, is the only Martell spawn featured in the television rendition, though his part in the books is substantially smaller than his two siblings’. Quentyn is talked about at length by his sister Arianne in A Feast for Crows, as she believes he is plotting with her father to replace her as heir to Dorne – though as the eldest child, it is her birthright.
Quentyn is a point of view character in A Dance with Dragons: he has just sailed across the narrow sea with a handful of close companions, dispatched by his father to bring Daenerys Targaryen to Dorne. The eventual goal is for Quentyn to marry Daenerys to create a foothold of power for Dorne in the Seven Kingdgoms – but when he eventually meets Daenerys in Meereen, she is less than impressed with the sexually inexperienced man’s cautious, unassertive demeanor.
Desperate to not return home a failure, he schemes that he will able be tame one of Daenerys’ dragons due to his Targaryen ancestry. The plan – literally – backfires and Quentyn suffers severe burns, dying four days later.
Though a powerful political chess piece in the books, Val does not appear in any recognizable capacity in the show; she is a wilding princess and sister to Dalla, the wife of Mance Rayder. The Free Folk themselves have no royals, but when Dalla died giving birth and Mance was captured by Stannis’ army, they proclaimed the title of princess upon Val, using her as a token to barter with and to negotiate potential marriages from.
Most notably, Stannis tries to arrange for Jon Snow to rescind his position in the Night’s Watch and take back Winterfell as a legitimatized son of Eddard Stark – Stannis dangles marrying Val as Jon’s reward, hoping Jon’s connection to the Free Folk and Val’s position will win him loyalty.
Val is gritty, intelligent, and capable – she successfully locates Tormund on Jon Snow’s commands when other rangers had proven incapable. Upon meeting Shireen Baratheon, she tells Jon Snow the child is still sick with the greyscale illness that had disfigured her face, and must be killed – this disgusts Jon, who steadfastly refuses.
5. Arys Oakheart
Ser Arys Oakheart served first as a member of Robert Baratheon’s Kingsguard, and was involved in Joffrey’s reign as king. He was a member of the faction of knights who beat Sansa on Joffrey’s orders, though she always thought him kinder than the rest, preferring his company to the others.
Oakheart is chosen by Tyrion to accompany Myrcella to Dorne, and it is there that he meets and falls in love with Arianne Martell. Members of the Kingsguard are celibate, but after six months of Arianne’s pursuit, Okaheart begins a passionate affair with her. As she still believes her brother Quentyn means to usurp her, Arianne convinces him to denounce the Iron Throne’s claim that Tommen Baratheon is the rightful heir, and to declare Myrcella as heir instead.
In the books, Myrcella is not so easily killed off – Arys, Arianne, and a band of supporters try to kidnap her to support her claim to the Iron Throne – unfortunately, they run into a trap orchestrated by Prince Doran and Myrcella is wounded. Though outnumbered, Arys attempts to prove his worth and bravery as a knight, charging at his enemies with his sword drawn. He manages to slay two of his opponents, but is eventually killed.
4. Victarion Greyjoy
Victarion is the third eldest of the five Greyjoy brothers. His eldest brother Balon held the Iron Islands’ Seastone Chair and spearheaded the rebellion to claim the Seven Kingdoms for himself early in Robert Baratheon’s reign. Victarion has a tense relationship with his older brother Euron, who seduced Victarion’s third wife, leading him to beat her to death to preserve his honor.
After Balon’s death, a kingsmoot is held to decide the next ruler of the Iron Islands. Initially, Victarion has the support of many ironborn – until the long-banished Euron appears and stakes his own claim. Euron is a persuasive speaker, and technically has a greater claim, being the second eldest. The crowd chooses Euron, much to Victarion’s chagrin. At Euron’s command, Victarion sets off to find Daenerys Targaryen so Euron can marry her – planning all the while to wed her himself. During his voyage, Victarion becomes acquainted with a Red Priest, who “heals” his hand (leaving it blackened and burnt-looking) and relies on him for guidance, as the Priest claims he can see Victarion’s future in the flames.
3. Lady Stoneheart
Likely the most well-known characters that’s never made it to the TV show, Lady Stoneheart is the re-animated corpse of Catelyn Stark. She is heard about long before she is seen – with stories of a cloaked woman who leads a band of outlaws, as well as a variety of ghastly murders taking place. The truth is not far off: after Catelyn’s resurrection, she took over as head of the brotherhood without banners and set herself to murdering every perceived supporter of the Lannisters, and those who contributed in some way to the Red Wedding.
“Lady Stoneheart” is a fitting pseudonym for her maniacal thirst for revenge and her perpetual lack of pity. At the end of A Feast for Crows, she captures Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne. Because of her prior relationship with Brienne, she offers Brienne freedom if she murders Jaime. Brienne refuses and is condemned to hang.
Lady Stoneheart appears in a mutilated form – though resurrected, the injuries incurred from the Red Wedding are too deep, and she cannot speak unless she covers her wounded throat. Half her hair has gone white, and her skin is likened to curdled cream, due to her body being submerged in the river for days after her murder.
2. Aegon Targaryen
To date, a huge divergence from the books is the (non) existence of Aegon Targaryen, son of Elia Martell and Rhaegar Targaryen. Until A Dance with Dragons, it was believed that the infant son of the heir to the Iron Throne was killed by Gregor Clegane (the Mountain) during the Sack of King’s Landing.
When Tyrion Lannister is under the watch of Griff, he takes special note of the young man the group refers to as “Young Griff.” With his dark eyes that bear a purple tinge and intelligence befitting a lord, Tyrion confronts Young Griff, suspecting him to be the believed-dead Targaryen heir. Young Griff admits to being Aegon, swapped at birth and hidden.
Griff is actually Jon Connington, an exiled lord of Rhaegar’s who the show has been partially amalgamated with Jorah Mormont (Connington contracts greyscale in the books). Aegon takes Tyrion’s suggestion to turn west and take advantage of the tumultous state of affairs in King’s Landing. As A Dance with Dragons ends, Aegon and his company intend to invade Storm’s End. The legitimacy of his claim is debatable, however – when news of his survival reaches King’s Landing, he is declared an imposter, and Connington himself muses that Aegon’s eyes are a shade lighter than Rhaegar’s.
1. Arianne Martell
Absent from the show, the eldest child and only daughter of Doran Martell is a driving force in A Feast for Crows. She easily seduces Arys Oakheart despite his moral hang-ups – eventually using the intensity of the relationship to convince him to back her rebellion that would install Myrcella as ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. Her promise to Arys is that – in this new world – a marriage between the two of them would be allowed. In truth, Arianne had no intention of marrying Arys; it’s clear that she views him as an acceptable sexual partner, but thinks him dull and unintelligent.
When her rebellion fails, Arianne’s father imprisons her in a cell for weeks – there, she is plagued by her belief that Prince Doran has always meant to give the throne to Quentyn. When she finally speaks with the Prince, she voices her suspicions and he reveals to her that she was right: he had intended for Quentyn to rule Dorne, and for Arianne to wed Viserys Targaryen and rule the Seven Kingdoms.
The truth of her father’s plan now revealed, her trust and appreciation for him grows, and during A Dance of Dragons, she is seen holding a seat of honor next to the Prince.
Which of these characters do you most want to see in Game of Thrones? Let us know in the comments!