Game of Thrones

Subtitle: The book vs. the HBO series

One of my great pleasures in life is reading books. Fiction or nonfiction it doesn't really matter, the thing that I look for is that the author needs to be able to immerse me in another world. There are many wolds I've found like this: Terry Pratchet's Diskworld is one of them, another is the US of A in the mid 1980s in The Dead Hand by . I just want to be transported, gripped and enjoy the little details and ironies of the world which make it come alive.

The HBO "original series" Game of Thrones is based on JRR Martin's series of fiction novels bearing the same name. Set in the kingdom of Westeros, the Game of Thrones series tracks the struggles of the various noble houses of Westeros for power following the death of the reigning King in not curious but certainly volatile circumstances. Not much more can be said without spoiling the story, but the thing which made Game of Thrones an interesting book and series is that rather than focus on the abstract vying for power of the houses Game of Thrones is written from a 3rd person limited narrator perspective which trails key nobles and gives a focus on the human side of the conflict. Certainly not the peasants view of the High Lords wars, but it shows the strife between siblings, the little tensions that lead to intrigue and the characters who appear are rounded out with enough backstory to be interesting in their own right as people. They are not, as the Imperial Troopers of Star Wars fame simply cardboard set pieces set up to look pretty or be knocked down in the name of "action".

Furthermore, Westeros is a believable kingdom. The Crown is heavily in debt. Husband and wife are seen continually at odds. Young Lords and Ladies are forced into positions which one would hope against given their years, and to backdrop it all little hints are given as to the lives of the common folk and the scope of the world which "lives" off camera and off set.

Unfortunately, due in no small part to time limitations whenever books are dramatized into movies or TV shows content must be cut. The producers of Game of Thrones have done an amazing job so far of telling nigh word for word the same story as the book of the same title. However I find that they have not given us the same characters as the book, nor the same realm while it may bear (or perchance be burdened with) an identical geography.

The trouble I find after reading the first book is that the characters which appear in the televised series are neither weaker nor stronger than their paperback doppelgangers but rather that they lack the same depth and that the world at large lacks life. In the TV show one is brought to understand the relative scope of the land of Westeros and the domains over which the king on the Iron Throne rules but there is no life to the map. One cannot imagine for instance (and is not even informed of) the other two active castles along The Wall & the strength of the Nights Watch force which patrols The Wall is never shown. Similarly the populace of Kings Landing and the Free Cities are simply implied to exist, while the characters which are introduced tend to be the major ones which are followed both in novel and reel for long durations.