Book purists have been up in arms about this latest season of Game of Thrones because apparently, this season has deviated from the book more than any other point in the show.
Well, I am here to argue that it isn’t a bad thing. I am speaking as someone who has never read the books and has only experienced the fictional world of George R.R. Martin through HBO’s hit series.
I am not here to argue that one medium is inherently better than the other. I am not a staunch supporter of the belief that “The book is always better”. I read Jaws and Who Censored Roger Rabbit, and trust me when I say that their respective movie adaptations are far superior. On the other hand, there are many cases where the adaptation has failed to capture the essence of what made the book great (seriously, what on Earth happened with The Scarlet Letter?).
My take is that I like to get different experiences from both the book and television or film adaptation. I don’t want the adaptation to be exactly like the book because why should I go out of my way to see when I can just read the book again? On the flip side of that, if I see the movie first, why should I read the book if the movie is exactly the same? I am not going to grab the torches and pitchforks if changes are made in the adaptation process because issues of timing, pacing, and the visual function of film all come into play. If the adaptation is able to entice me and give me a rich experience on its own while also staying true to the spirit of what made the book work, then it succeeded.
As I said, I have not read the books that Game of Thrones is based on, but I am actually happy to hear that deviations are being made. Right now, I am enjoying the show and now I am guaranteed to get different experience when I eventually do decide to read the books. It’ll be fun to compare them both when it is all said and done. However, there are other factors to consider here.
First of all, fans of Martin’s books have got to be the absolute worst when it comes to spoiling upcoming events. I have had major events spoiled for me long before they happened in the show and it robbed me of the surprise of seeing those events unfold in the series. Now that the show is heavily deviating from the books, this will no longer be a problem. The book readers that spoiled major story developments for me in the past are now just as much in the dark as I am and at least now I do not have to worry about future events of the series being ruined for me.
Second, one of the major complaints I always hear from fans of the book is that Martin takes way too long to get the books finalized and published. The show having to deviate from the books was an inevitable development given that the producers of the show can’t sit around and wait for Martin to get that next book done. The show is in its fifth season and I feel that it has been on the air long enough and have a solid enough foundation to start taking the stories in directions they see fit.
I can understand being a fan of something and always wanting it to be presented in its purest form, but when you crossover different forms of media and have to adapt dense material from a book series (that is not done yet) into 10 episode seasons, concessions have to be made. Once the show is completed and run its course, I will be sure to go back and read all of the books and I hope to get a different yet equally rich experience from it. Of course I am also making that statement under the assumption that the books aren’t spoiled for me even further or Martin actually finishes the series at all.