‘Game of Thrones’ Season 4 Will Be a Lot Different Than the Books

Published 2 years ago by

This is the part when HBO’s Game of Thrones really gets interesting. Not just because of where the big traumatic turns of season 3 left us, but rather because we’re approaching that juncture where the source novels by author George R.R. Martin become a tangled knot that has frustrated more than a few of his readers over the years.

Technically speaking, the rough patch begins with book 4 of the novel series – and season 4 of the TV series is actually supposed to cover the second half of book no. 3, so one would think there’s no problem there. However, many fans have been measuring the material from book 3 and wondered if it isn’t a little too short for a full fourth season of the show. According to star Jerome Flynn (Bronn), the measurements are certainly not exact.

Jerome Flynn talks Game of Thrones Season 4 Game of Thrones Season 4 Will Be a Lot Different Than the Books

Speaking at a special panel during the 2013 New York Comic-Con, Flynn claimed that fans would be “quite surprised” by how different season 4 of the HBO show was from the books that inspired it. This was in reference to discussion of a fight scene in which Bronn engages in a battle concocted exclusively for the TV series.

Truthfully speaking, Game of Thornes has always taken liberties with its adaptation of the source material; hell, they even found a way to make the infamous “Red Wedding” even more gruesome and shocking than the books did.  And with other actors from the series claiming that season 4 will have even more death in it, one can only guess what showrunners D.B. Weiss, David Benioff and co. have in mind for big events like the “Purple Wedding” and the subsequent events that follow in this game-changing chapter of the Westeros saga.

Game of Thrones Viewers Character Season Episode Guide Game of Thrones Season 4 Will Be a Lot Different Than the Books

If the show were to take a lot of the “interquel” elements of George R.R. Martin’s 4th and 5th books (A Feast for Crows and A Dance of Dragons) and streamline them into a more cohesive, focused narrative – while starting to lay a lot of the groundwork for those chapters earlier on  (so that the development and plot progression were a lot smoother and tighter) I’d be game for it. Reading through books 4 and 5 was a lot like watching a creator sift through a mountain of ideas to find the handful of best ones to work from – no need to repeat that messy process on the TV screen when the destination is already known and the roadwork could be a lot more direct.

How about you – are you okay with the show deviating from the books, or do you like the adaptation to be more faithful?


Game of Thrones returns to HBO in spring 2014.

Source: IGN

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  1. I say this about comic book movies too but anything to have the live action version make sense on the screen is ok with me.

    • Wrong its not a comic based show. The books were written, movie made and then in the third season the comics came out. So the comic is based on the book and movie rather the other way around.

      • That’s not what he said at all.

  2. The HBO series already deviates from the books. The story arc with Theon Greyjoy being tortured doesn’t take place until a Dance With Dragons. It’s been carried forward to keep him in the show.

    • No, it’s happening in accordance with the timeline. We only get back to Theon in ADWD, and by then all the torturing had already occurred.

      • What King said.

    • Actually the timeline during which Theon is tortured takes place during the events of a storm of swords. We just don’t find out about it until Dance. The way it was done in the books wouldn’t have worked as well on screen

    • Theon is being tortured during book 3. The King in the North is even sent a piece of his flayed skin. Theon’s captivity and torture is talked about in Book 3, just the reader is not in his head at all during the book.

  3. Bronn vs the mountain…

    • We’ve already seen set photos of Pedro Pascal training with the spear, so that’s unlikely. (If the Red Viper isn’t the one who fights the mountain, there is basically no point to the character) Maybe Bronn vs. Hound…

  4. This was inevitable.

    Unless HBO puts a hold on the series following this season, it’s time everyone starts getting used to the idea that this is no longer an adaptation of what is written.

    • Books 4 and 5 are almost 2000 pages. There is still plenty of content. Now whether the audience is patient enough to sit through some of the less action oriented content will be what they have to determine how far they stray from the story to keep the ratings up. Being that it’s HBO, there me just be lot more soft core porn and gratuitous violence to fill the gaps. 😉

  5. What is wrong with that? I know I know – to some these books are as If Moses himself has carried them down from the Mount. But last season started to feel even Lighter than a Reader’s Digest version of the Books. So what’s the problem with a little Variation. It might make for a better last 3rd of Book 4 & 1st half of 5.

    • Doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I haven’t read one word of these books and don’t plan too.

      The show is still fantastic.

  6. Bronn vs Jamie or Brienne perhaps?

  7. Well, as long as it gets back on track with book 4.

  8. I don’t mind the deviation from the books. But, I would appreciate if the Tyrion storyline continued the way it did in the books.

  9. i’m afraid the clichés are just too much.. i’ve jumped ship from this show.. just waiting on the last too books.

    • Explain, please.

      • Yeah, please explain.

  10. Don’t mind a slight deviation. Just don’t jerk the wheel like Kirkman and Nicotero did with The Walking Dead.

    • You should also explain yourself please. That comment kinda came out of nowhere.

  11. I’m a bit of a purist. I don’t like shows to deviate from the books, but that’s mainly because it’s usually a royal screw-up when they do. My main issues so far are when they’ve deviated from important story elements in order to simplify things. Now, I get it, the books are immense and there are so many characters to keep track of, but I feel like they’ve lost some of the tension of the book series, and by simplifying things for those who haven’t read the books, they’ve also made some of it more confusing because not enough information is given.

    For example, Robb and Talisa. Instead of condensing the love story as the books did, to focus on the tension between the Lords in Robb’s camp, they did the opposite and focused on the love story and inventing most of it while they were at it. Lost some of the magic for me. Also, leaving out characters like Stanis’ wife and daughter, as they were in the books. His wife’s fanaticism in the books makes more sense to me, than Stanis’ story in the show.

    Overall they haven’t done a bad job. We will see.

    • I agree. I felt the Battle of the Blackwater was lacking when I watched it played out in season 2, as with the scene in the House of the Undying. Some elements of the show are too ‘Hollywood’ for my tastes, as I think the books are amazing and need no gussying up. I’ve only seen seasons 1 and 2 because I had a feeling the scenes with Theon in season 3 would be in book 5, and I only barely started reading that one. And I had a problem with the whole thing with Robb and his wife being different between the book and show, too, especially since he went to the wedding without her.

      Overall, I think the creators have done a decent job with what I’ve seen so far, but I would like more cohesion with the books. Some said they found books 4 and 5 confusing, but I see it as Martin having to get as much as he could out there before the final books. Stage-setting is important in novels, almost more so than in film. I just hate to see a great piece of literature be turned into an average film adaptation. The big problem is that no two readers ever read the same story, and the show is just the creators’ retelling of what they read.

      I, for one, probably will not watch the series if it diverges even more than it already has.

      • iv read the books too, but it doesnt mean il stop watching the show. No offense but it just bugs the hell outta me when i hear people say stuff like that, adaptions will never be 100 % accurate, whether its to do with budget constraints, the writers or the fact that some things that work on paper dont work on the screen. That will always be the case. The other thing is that the book is always better, always. So if they made a ‘to the letter’ adaption it still wouldnt be as good and the show could suffer. To be fair GoT is probably one of the closest adaptions anyway, and with how slow Martain is writing the books they’ve no choice to deviate.

    • Spoilers are included herein. Please be aware.

      I find that deviations from a book series is important in order to convey some characters’ inner monologues. For this particular series, as has been discussed plenty of times, the story is told from point-of-view characters and often from a distance, i.e. the character telling the story wasn’t ‘there’ when it happened.

      Robb is a great example. If you want to show Robb’s fatal flaw, if you want to develop emotional bonds between the audience and the character or if you want to show how Robb’s treason to Walder Frey took place, then it doesn’t do to just have someone recount the story to Catelyn and call it a day. Robb doesn’t appear in A Clash of Kings, so his storyline being shown at all is a huge deviation – but since the story isn’t really told in detail in the books, then there’s little in the books that explicitly states that Robb’s story “didn’t” happen similarly to how it was presented on TV. The same goes for Theon. The show’s torture scenes are shown differently than in the books, but there’s nothing stating that it didn’t happen like that. I guess, if they didn’t show Ramsay flaying his finger, it could be difficult for an audience to know what a good ol’ fashion flaying is like.. For that matter, many would have no clue that the sigil of House Bolton is the Flayed Man, nor what a ‘Flayed Man’ looks like.

      How do you tell an audience that a character is in love? How do you tell an audience that a character is suspicious, cold (as in beyond the Wall), afraid or angry without having/creating a scene in which to show this? Without having Morgan Freeman narrate the innermost thoughts of characters, having a scene in which a character is thinking makes for boring TV.

      Ultimately, if the purpose of the character is served, then deviations can work. For example, Talisa gets stabbed whereas Jeyne got foreceully aborted in the books (with that moon tea whose name I forget). Either way, Robb’s heir is no longer. Stannis/Melisandre capture Gendry rather than Edric Storm. Gendry, like Edric, is Robert’s bastard, is freed in a boat by Davos and serves to spark the ideological debate between Stannis and Davos. There are more examples…

      To echo a previous poster, in the case of Selyse Baratheon, it is difficult to show the extent of a character’s fanaticism in one/two scenes as it is by choosing the right words in one paragraph. Enough to say that her misplaced devotion is clear via her tone of voice as well as through the test-tubes containing her stillborns. To what extent we are told that this devotion is strictly religious is not shown.

      I really do like what they’ve done with the show. The next few seasons should be great. Follow the timeline of A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons simultaneously and you’ll see there’s no lack of action or interesting characters. Characters like Victarion and Euron should be introduced early in Season 5 as should Prince Aegon and Griff. Areo Hotah is an amazing character when his chapters aren’t 500 pages apart… he might make the cut in Season 4. Aside from the obvious clash of the Viper and the Mountains, battles at the Wall, the mockingbird in the Eyrie, glimpses of the ever-so-honourable Jaime Lannister trying his hand at politics, a lady with a stone heart, an assassin in training and, of course, sheep bones…

  12. stop making Jon such a wussy-that’s all i ask

  13. I am so furious with George R.R. Martin over books 4 and 5 and I think he is writing himself in circles trying to get out of a corner.

    I am fine with HBO fixing this mess. Happy even.

    • I dont know what you are talking about. Fixing this mess? Please.

  14. Me, i’m injoying wathcing game of thrones i don’t mined if they well put additional story to make it long, the important is the whole real story of the book is there…. :-)

  15. When does season 4 start?

  16. When does season 4 start

    • Next season starts Spring 2014.

  17. Bronn will be fighting Jaime. Well not fighting him but Jaime will be using Bronn to retrain himself to learn to use his left hand. In the books it was Payne(sp?)but in the TV Show Bronn will take his part and hopefully stay in the series.

    • Sir Ian Payne is mute, which is why Jaime uses him. he knows he can’t tell anyone how inept he really is with his left hand. I see no reason why they would change that. However, the tickler is dead, but In the books hes still alive and gets into a battle in an Inn with the Hound. I can see them changing that story arc slightly so that Bronn and the Hound meet up and finish what they started right before the battle of blackwater.

      • Wilko Johnson being unable to continue in the role of Sir Ilyn Payne might be the reason that it is Bronn fighting Jamie instead of Sir Ilyn.

  18. Id prefer the movies to follow the books as much as possible. The addition of anything should only enhance or further explain a scene to help the viewers follow the authors intent…

    this is his vision and his quite vivid imagination, I want to know things as he saw them.

  19. Have we forgotten that there are still 2 more books the GM isn’t working on. I don’t mind them doing a bit extra. I would like the final 2 books to happen before the wall melts….

  20. i don’t think i will continue to watch it, it’s already VERY VERY different from Martin’s vision of setting, morals, good and evil etc.

    it’s very hollywoodized version, complete soap-opera-esque mediocre and mass appealing product

  21. I read all of the books as soon as ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 3 came to a halt; I simply couldn’t wait another year to find out what happened (and I’m glad I did… I mean… Lady Stoneheart in Storm of Swords Epilogue? C’mon. Just awesome). With that being said, the liberties the show has taken aren’t a turn off. I mean, to the average person, Game of Thrones isn’t an easy story to follow; there are a million characters and even more sub-plots (not to mention the history… oh god… the endless history).

    There will always be a constant battle between series and film adaptations of literature… it’s inevitable. But nonetheless, Game of Thrones (the series) has done a pretty decent job of entertaining and transforming what is essentially a pantheon of characters, houses, battles, betrayals and mystic lore.

    With that being said, I am a little anxious to see where the series goes during ‘A Feast for Crows'; the oddest (in my opinion) book in the series. There are brand new characters that come out of nowhere. Sure, they are all pieces in the puzzle, but to stray that far from the base characters we are so used to watching in the show (e.g. Daenerys, the Starks, etc.) may hurt viewership.

    Regardless, no one wants the series to succeed more than I do. And not unlike my bias towards the Tolkein adaptations, I will most likely love what happens no matter what. I just hope GRRM finishes book six soon. I’m brimming with anticipation.

  22. That’s why I don’t read the books. I want to enjoy the tv series purely.

  23. When it comes to deviating from the source material, GoT does it better than most. Arya’s bit with Tywin in Season 2 was a great example of how to do it right. On the other hand, the story with Daenarys at the end of season 2 didn’t fly for me. Showing the torture of Theon in season 3 was appreciated by me. But having Jaime kill his cousin (so out of character, in almost negates his character development in season 3) in season 2 was a bad move.

    So, they get some right, they get some wrong. It’s safer to stick to the material, or they run the risk of alienating fans unless they knock it out of the park.

  24. I used to be a big-time purist about stuff like this, but I’ve recently realized that as long as the on-screen adaptation stays true to the soul of the story, a few changes for the sake of adaptation are not only acceptable, but kind of cool in a way. I have already read the stories and enjoyed them in their purest form, so why not watch something that builds on that (while staying true to the soul of the story!) and get to see even more content that I have not seen (read) before? Such as the character of Ros? She was never in the books and she blended seamlessly with the events in the show which mirrored the books.

    Not to mention that some of the episodes with fairly large departures, so far, have been written by GRRM anyway. So if the godfather of the story can come in and say “Oh this also happened.” Who am I to get angry about it? It’s a great way for him to tell us a little more of the story that we never would have gotten to see otherwise.

    Just my two cents.

  25. Overall I think the series has done an amazing job adapting the novels.

    Their biggest mistake was in the handling of Bran & Rickon’s “murder” by Theon, a key event in “A Clash of Kings”, and which ultimately leads to Robb and Catelyn’s downfall. The series never convinced us and I don’t think anyone thought for even a moment that Theon actually killed them. The fact Catelyn and Robb never receive word of Bran and Rickon’s death weakens Robb’s storyline quite a lot.

    The other big screw up was skipping the battle at the Fist of the First Men. Absolutely unforgivable way to open season 3 and actually made the show confusing. They didn’t necessarily have to show the battle, but even just having someone explain what happened would have been helpful. Had I not read the books I would have been totally confused. Even having read the books I was still struggling to follow.

    My other problems are nitpicks really. Sam and Gilly failed to display the right emotions after their run in with The Others. They should have been scared sh*tless, not waltzing merrily through woods telling jokes. Jon Snow was more annoying than brave in series 3.

    Still, how Charles Dance hasn’t been nominated for an Emmy is beyond me.