From the Maester’s Desk: The Vipers and the Roses

Photo: Indira Varma/Twitter

Photo: Indira Varma/Twitter

From the Maester’s Desk is a new weekly column about the book-to-show adaptations of the characters, world and other elements from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books. Apart from analyzing the differences between the two mediums, it offers bits of trivia, speculation and educated guesses about the future of the story in both the books and the TV show. The article contains spoilers from ASOIAF, including a sample chapter of The Winds of Winter.

After last Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones, the third of the seventh season, “The Queen’s Justice”, it appears the fate of both House Tyrell and House Martell was sealed.

Cersei drew first blood indeed, outsmarting her exiled Lannister sibling, who’s now serving as Hand for Daenerys Targaryen. Fighting his own relatives is turning out to be more difficult for Tyrion than when he had to face the army of Stannis Baratheon during the Battle of Blackwater Bay (unfortunately for poor Ser Davos) and deal with the Sons of the Harpy in Meereen.

As a result of adapting the story for television, several characters from the books were cut. Some of little consequence, such as Strong Belwas, whose role was ultimately fulfilled by Daario Naharis. Others, though, are an example of how even if the show and the books will reach the same destination, the journey will be quite different.

Enter Ellaria Sand, who was wonderfully played by Indira Varma.

Ellaria Sand

The TV incarnation of the character is more of an active player in the story, seeking revenge after her paramour Oberyn Martell met his demise at the hands of Gregor Clegane. She’s the one who decides to move against the Lannisters, against the wishes of Doran Martell, in contrast with the book version, who’s actually worried about her daughters getting involved in a quest for vengeance.

Much has been said about the TV interpretation of the Sand Snakes, and at this point everyone has made up their minds about them, so I’m not going to add more to that particular discussion.

I’ll say, however, that even if the execution was somewhat flawed, their inclusion (and reduction from eight to three characters) was a clever way to condense the Dornish plot from A Feast from Crows and A Dance with Dragons into a handful of scenes, getting straight to the point: the murder of Myrcella Baratheon, thus fulfilling a part of Maggy the Frog’s prophecy (before it went full circle with Tommen’s suicide).

Myrcella and Jaime

Of course, the book version of Myrcella is still alive, only getting disfigured as a result of a botched plot hatched by Arianne Martell, a full fledged POV character from the books who was cut from the show. Despite many fans have lamented her absence, I feel like her omission was the right call to make. We really don’t know the road the Dornish characters will take in the books (and under which circumstances will Myrcella ultimately die), but having a limited number of episodes and screen time for each character, you can only add so many side stories before you start drifting away from the main plot.

Much less missed was another Martell with his own POV chapters in A Dance with Dragons, the infamous Quentyn Martell. For book readers, the reason behind his absence from the show seems obvious: he took a long road only to end up burned to a crisp by Daenerys’ dragons after his failed attempt to tame one of them. His role was more or less fulfilled in the show by Tyrion, who entered the pyramid to release Viserion and Rhaegal while their ‘mother’ was absent. Only that, obviously, Tyrion didn’t get roasted, probably because his intentions were only to set them free and not to try his hand at dragon taming.

Tyrene and Ellaria Sand The Queen's Justice

The Sand Snakes (and Ellaria) are still alive in the books, and one of them maybe is currently in Oldtown, disguised as a man to study and become a maester, if fan theories prove to be correct.

Two of their show counterparts (Obara and Nymeria) went out in a blaze of glory, in an exciting battle sequence (and better choreographed than their encounter with Jaime and Bronn in the Water Gardens) against Euron’s forces. Cersei reserved a crueler fate for both Ellaria and Tyene, in a scene that was a callback to the Season 5 finale, “Mother’s Mercy”, and also (seems to me) to the way the Mad King Aerys II killed Rickard and Brandon Stark (a moment that coincidentally got mentioned during the meeting of Daenerys and Jon).

House Tyrell

As for House Tyrell of Highgarden, its last surviving representative after the fiery wildfire explosion that destroyed the Sept of Baelor and ended the lives of Margaery, Loras and Mace, was Lady Olenna Tyrell, better known as “The Queen of Thorns”.

A favorite among book readers and show fans, the role was beautifully played by Dame Dianna Rigg. The spirit of the character survived the transition from book to screen, and she got some of the best lines, some among the most memorable in the show’s entire run (such as the “Cheese” one).

Olenna in the books has a much smaller presence, and the same could be said of all the other members of House Tyrell. She only appears in the third and fourth volumes (A Storm of Swords and A Feast for Crows) and doesn’t get many moments interacting with other characters, like Varys or Tywin Lannister, unlike her show counterpart.


After having supper with Sansa and learning of the treatment she got from Joffrey, she plots to marry the Stark girl to her grandson Willas Tyrell, a character that doesn’t exist in the TV version of the story. Willas hasn’t appeared in the books so far, and all we know about him is that he’s the eldest son of Mace Tyrell and the heir of Highgarden, despite being a cripple with a bad leg, as a result of a horse falling on top of him during his first tourney, in which he competed against the Red Viper himself.

Sansa’s trust in Dontos Hollard proved to be the undoing of the marriage plot, since Dontos spilled the beans to Littlefinger, who in turn went to Tywin Lannister. Tywin acted quickly and married Sansa to his son Tyrion, and offered Cersei instead as a match for Willas. The Tyrells weren’t amused and rejected the idea, a luxury Olenna couldn’t take in the show, in which Loras was the only heir and the alternative offered by Tywin was to make him a Kingsguard.

Loras does become a Kingsguard in the books after the Battle of the Blackwater Bay, probably as a measure to keep a watchful eye on Joffrey, considering the cruel boy king was going to marry his sister, Margaery

While heavily implied, Loras’ homosexuality isn’t as evident in the books, and therefore Cersei’s way of disposing of him doesn’t involve the Faith, but rather a doomed mission to take Dragonstone, which is still in control of Stannis Baratheon’s soldiers, if only a small garrison (It’s worth mentioning that Stannis is still alive in the books too, or at least hasn’t been confirmed dead. Rather curious to see how many of these characters already kicked the bucket in the HBO version of the story). Dragonstone is successfully seized by the Crown, but Loras ends horribly injured during the battle after getting hit with burning oil. Last we hear of him is that he’s possibly dying because of his wounds.

Apart from Willas, the other Tyrell sibling that got the axe was Garlan Tyrell. His role so far has been rather small, so his most notable moment, donning the armor of the deceased Renly Baratheon during the Battle of the Blackwater Bay, was given to Loras instead.


Book Margaery ends up imprisoned by the faith not because of lying to protect her brother, but because of Cersei managing to having her accused of fornication and being unfaithful to king Tommen. This was made possible after Cersei made Grand Maester Pycelle confess he has been providing moon tea to Margaery. The moon tea hasn’t been mentioned in the show so far, but its purpose is to work as a contraceptive for women who don’t want to get pregnant, or to make them abort if a pregnancy has already happened.

Also instrumental in Margaery’s downfall was Blue Bard, a singer in service of House Tyrell. Cersei ordered Qyburn to torture the bard and make him tell a false story of Margery’s many lovers. The bard is then mutilated by Qyburn and tells Cersei’s version of the story after getting released, successfully framing Margaery.

As if that wasn’t enough of a bad time, the bard ends up tortured again, this time by the Faith, in order to find out if he’s telling the truth. But Blue Bard seems to be more afraid of Cersei and Qyburn, since he doesn’t change a word.

Margaery is, however, released in the fifth book, A Dance with Dragons, because the evidence is lackluster to say the least, and she intends to wait for the Faith’s judgment, sure that she’ll be declared innocent.

kevan lannister

Poor show Mace Tyrell didn’t get something his book version did: being named Hand of the King by Lord Regent Kevan Lannister. The show dispatched both Mace and Kevan Lannister in the sept explosion, but the former is still alive and kicking, and the latter meets his end in the fifth book’s epilogue, murdered by Varys in a moment that was given to Qyburn in the show (and played quite differently, being Pycelle the one who was killed).

We can safely conclude that the show is done with the Martells and the Tyrells, having served their purpose in the adaptation, but we can only guess which are George’s plans for the characters in the book.

We can assume that Loras will die because of his grave injuries, but even if Cersei blows the Sept of Baelor up with Margaery and Mace inside, there are still two other Tyrell siblings very much alive, apart from the Queen of Thorns.

Plus, the murder of Kevan (and Grand Maester Pycelle too) by Varys (who seems to have never left King’s Landing, as opposed to the show version who traveled to Essos to meet Daenerys) opens plenty more of possibilities after his corpse is found. Varys intends Cersei to suspect Tyrion (he kills Kevan with a crossbow) and to keep feeding her paranoia against her allies, betting for a complete unraveling and weakening of the Crown, a quite different scenario from the one in the show, in which Cersei is a quite competent and ruthless queen.

When it comes to the Martells, it’s safe to assume Ellaria won’t have Doran and Areo Hotah murdered to become the de facto leader of House Martell, so the way all these characters will die (if they do indeed die) will be completely different.

Ellaira killes Prince Doran Martell

An alliance with Daenerys seems dubious as well, since yet another character that was cut from the show, Aegon Targaryen (or someone who is posing as him, we don’t know yet) shows up during the events of the fifth book. This Aegon is (allegedly) the surviving son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Elia Martell, snatched by Varys and replaced with a commoner baby, so he wouldn’t get killed during the Sack of King’s Landing.

In a sample chapter from The Winds of Winter, we learn that Doran has sent his daughter Arianne to meet Aegon (who is already in Westeros, as opposed to Daenerys, who is just about to be taken prisoner by the Dothraki), who’s asking for the help of Dorne in order to march on King’s Landing and take the Iron Throne.

Perhaps we’ll learn the answer to those questions (or most of them at least) when the sixth book sees release.

For the time being, pour one for the show versions of House Martell and House Tyrell. They may be gone now, but we’ll always have the terrific acting from the talented actors and actresses who gave such a vibrant life to characters who may have been secondary, but made quite an impression in more than one show fan.

85 responses

Jump to (and Always Support) the Bottom

    1. Great read! Show Dorne will really go down as the Achilles’ Heel of an otherwise herculean effort on the part of D&D. On the flipside, I think their version of House Tyrell far outshines the book version because of the writing, casting, and performances.

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    2. Books vs Show comparison? Brave stuff.

      Gets popcorn, makes oneself comfortable, awaits ensuing shitfight…

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    3. Only ten episodes left, and I’ve been wondering about the “bittersweet” ending GRRM has always alluded to. I know the show won’t be exactly like the books, but I’m assuming the big plot points will remain intact.

      I’m going to remove the scenario that the WW win and everyone dies. That seems worse than bittersweet.

      So whats the tradeoff?

      Does Dany become her father and go mad, forcing Jon and/or others to turn against her? Or does she and/or her dragons die fighting the WWs?

      Does Jon die fighting WWs? Fighting Dany? Fighting Cersei?

      Does Cersei win?

      Does half of the population get wiped out and Westeros is forced to start all over?

      And what’s the final “big surprise”?

      Sam is NOT “writing the story”…. That’s ripping off of Tolkien and GRRM wouldn’t do that.

      Is TPTWP a dark horse? Gendry? Hound? Beric?

      Is it a continuous time loops? Did Bran create everything? Is he ALL of the “Brans” in history?

      Tyrion is a Targ?

      So much to cover in ten episodes….

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    4. I’m a massive fan of your site as well as the show. Too date I’ve been happy with pace of the show, the story telling and the character development. This changed with the last episode. Not only was the character development between Snow and Daenerys cut short but the entire episode fell like cliffs notes. In fact, I would also go as far and say that they could have turned this weeks episode into a single season all by itself. I understand that the writers and producers are under a time constraint but praying this doesn’t detract from remaining story/conclusion. I still have high hopes but I am a little concerned. Hopefully we’ll get some dragon fire next week and I’ll forget this worry every existed.

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    5. I we analyse everything that D&D have done since they adapted the last adaptable book – ASOS in S4 it seems to me that they said to themselves that two major plot points in this story are Dany’s invasion and the WW’s invasion and almost everything that doesn’t contribute in some way to that will be cut.

      So Dorne, Greyjoys, Euron, the Vale, Tyrells,… are there to serve those storylines.

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    6. Ryan,

      When we speak about major characters I think that Cersei , Jaime, Bran and Dany will die. Jon will be King of the Seven Kingdoms.

      Mel and Varys will die, Euron as well, I can see Davos’ death. Who else? Not sure.

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    7. I really think the moral of the show should be, “Move to Dorne”. Heck, the White Walkers won’t ever make it there.

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    8. Dorne sucks in the books too. I’m not surprised it sucked in the show.

      My only real adaptation complaint was with how the Faith ensnared Cersei. The bit with Lancel never really made sense.

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    9. I remember an interview where D&D said Dorne was never in their plan for the show.
      It was Bryan Cogman who came with the idea of Jaime going to Dorne, and thereby coming up with a condensed version of the story.

      And therin lies the problem. George RR Martin is a gardener… He plants seeds and follows them. D&D are architects. for TV, this has to be the case. Everything must be systematically planned from beginning to end. And Dorne was never part of this plan.

      Therefore, the subplot became tacked on, and somewhat inconsequential.
      You could tell the writing was most likely done relatively last minute, the characters far more hollow.
      I think if they had the opportunity, they would’ve found a way to not include it. I am sure they could’ve found another way for Myrcella to be murdered, which was the only real plot point Dorne really fulfilled.

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    10. ManderlyPieCompany,

      N O P E.

      Show!Loras and Show!Mace were a disaster. Show!Margaery was basically everything Cersei in AFOCs projected on to her. D&D’s reading comprehension levels really shine through with their inability to realize that Cersei wasn’t right about her. NO WILLAS, NO GARLAN.

      And this:

      “They are the wealthiest house, but fighting isn’t really their forte. I mean, they’re just not known for being the most fearsome warriors. So, to have a long, extended battle there… It didn’t make a lot of sense” — D. B. Weiss about House Tyrell. Inside the Episode (07×03)

      Fighting isn’t Tyrell men’s forte? REALLY?? And it’s because they’re “golden roses”? What kind of toxic masculinity bullshit is that? There is absolutely no way that Highgarden would have been taken so easily.

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    11. HelloThere,

      Yes, new location with 7-8 new characters plus Jaime and Bronn in only 40 minutes and the culmination of that arc was death of ultra-minor character.

      It was impossible to work. What should have been done differently? I dont really know.

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    12. mau,

      If you insist on doing it, then give Doran the speech. After Ellaria kisses his hand, tell her to rise and he gives the Viper-Grass speech.

      Then send the two Grumpy Snakes to King’s Landing to protect Trystane. Send Ellaria and the Chesty Snake to Mereen to meet with Dany.

      And you end it with Trystane and Myrcella getting caught in the explosion at the Sept somehow. Myrcella was supposed to be safe, but she ran off to be with her man. The Snakes escape for revenge. They kill Tommen.

      Then they are all still killed in the Euron battle. Cersei kills Ellaria in some manner similar to Tommen. Doran dies at the Water Garden, a broken man. Defeated at last.

      Or… just have Bronn and Chesty move to Southryos and have sex

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    13. And there is a question what to do with Jaime if you cut Dorne. Two seasons in the Riverlands would be too much. 3 episodes in S6 was enough.

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    14. Chris,

      Agreed – I was underwhelmed with the full structure of this last episode though some of the individual scenes were excellent. I think if D&D had moved some of the scenes (KL, attack on HG) to another episode it would have flowed better. This episode actually felt like they were trying to get finished with everything as fast as possible.

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    15. Arianne Tyrell: NO WILLAS, NO GARLAN.

      Someone kill me right now. The level of freaking Willas and Garlan moaning among the book crowd is beyond insane.

      Note to those who haven’t read the books: I guarantee you (no hyperbole, no exaggeration) that 90% of book readers have NO CLUE who Willas and Garlan Tyrell are. One of those two has never even appeared on page (just mentioned as Loras’s older brother currently back in Highgarden) while the other has appeared for like several miliseconds (he was the one wearing Renly’s armor at Blackwater, not Loras). For some bonkers batshit insane reason they have amassed quite a following among some of the more… let’s say hardcore groups of readers.

      Yes, you got that right. Two characters that have barely, or not at all, graced the pages of Martin’s books are a rallying cry among not insignificant numbers of book fundamentalists. You can’t make this shit up!

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    16. Arianne Tyrell,

      Yes, Cersei never devolved into the paranoid, clownish, cartoony villain from the novels, but I don’t see that as a bad thing. Margarey is much more fleshed out in the show because she is given desires and ambitions. Margarey from the books is such a minor character compared to the show.

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    17. People love to rally around 4th or 5th level characters …. makes them feel smart and like they were “fans of the band” before the band got popular.

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    18. Ryan,

      That’s true even for the show. In the books it’s even more common thing.

      I mean Oberyn Martell in the books was nothing really. He had like 3-4 scenes.

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    19. mau,

      I think Oberyn was loved on the show because of Pedro Pascal. That’s it.

      Yeah his character was bad ass but Pedro MADE him

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    20. Margoth, thank you for braving the topic of adaptation and writing such a good summary piece (I loved the book/show columns that were done over the years, really deepened my knowledge of the story in both mediums)

      When I first read the books, I was bored with dorn sections and skipped much of it (same thing with the Greyjoys). It was the show that gave me the idea to reread the books again, this time making sure I read those sections. Some parts were interesting, but ultimately they were not my favorite sections and could have done without Dorne in the show (Elaria coming for revenge for Oberyn’s death still could have happened). The show has made Greyjoys interesting for me because of Theon’s arc; his fall and his redemtion, his fight to become Theon and not Reek, has been so powerful. I love his relationship with Yara (which I don’t think he has in the books), and while I didn’t care for Euron in the book, the show has made him to be a character to watch and worry about….

      Be interested in your thoughts about book cersei versus show. In the book she is silly, paranoid to the hilt, and gets her comeupance with the walk of shame. Show Cersie is much more nuanced, and I had some sympathy for her frustration at being a woman.

      Looking forward to other columns!

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    21. I think both Garlan and Willas will eventually die in the books as well or the Tyrells will simply be overthrown. Because as much as it pains me, I strongly suspect house Tarly – specifically Sam – will be lord paramount of the Reach in the end.
      The masses just love their neutered good guys.

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    22. Mr Fixit,

      > The problem of the “butterfly effect” in the show’s adaptation was brought up, and he cited the specific example of the show deleting the two older Tyrell sons, Willas and Garlan. Martin stated that they will become important in the books, and that they have “parts to play.”

      > “In the Tyrell family, Loras is not the eldest son in the books. There are two older brothers, Willas and Garlan. I didn’t just put them in for hoots and giggles, they have roles to play in the last two books, and they don’t exist in the show.”


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    23. mau,

      The Dornish problem has many sources:
      1) Didn’t commit to it until too late (probably when they saw how popular Oberyn was)
      2) Poor action sequences, supposedly brought on by not having a long enough shooting schedule.
      3) A desire to give Jaime something to do and to keep Bronn around. And since they aren’t doing Lady StoneBoobs, Jaime can’t fart around in the Riverlands forever.
      Bronn is chilling with his wife by this point in the books, but he’s too popular to let go.
      4) Desire to keep Indira around, when it probably works a little better if the Snakes are complete rogues.
      5) Not using Siddig properly.
      6) Overcompensating to give Ellaria more power after the reaction to Sansa-Ramsay. This eliminates Siddig, makes the Myrcella-Trystane thing senseless, and also removes any kind of balance between Ellaria-Cersei.

      6a) And the Sansa-Ramsay thing was done to keep from having to add even more characters like Jeyne Poole AND to give Sophie Turner something else to do besides chill in the Vale. I’d also argue that they made a mistake not with Sansa-Ramsay, but just in how gratuitous the Craster Wives scene was the next episode.

      Throw in horrible acting and bad writing and you have a real problem. Too bad, but it’s no great shakes in the book either.

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    24. Arianne Tyrell,

      Maybe the extra parts for Willas and Garlan will include helping us tell one from the other.

      Because here’s the dirty secret: You can’t tell the Sand Snakes apart in the books either

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    25. WorfWWorfington,

      1. We need to see some kind of reaction to Oberyn’s death
      2. Myrcella has to die
      3. Jaime has something to do and not be in KL

      These are the reasons why Dorne plot was created in the show.

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    26. WorfWWorfington,

      “You can’t tell the Sand Snakes apart in the books either.”

      Haha, speak for yourself. They are easy to differentiate in the books imo. Now, Arianne and Nym are similar in the books fwiw.

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    27. mau:

      That’s true even for the show. In the books it’s even more common thing.

      I mean Oberyn Martell in the books was nothing really. He had like 3-4 scenes.

      Yes! People always like to complain when certain characters get short shrift compared to the books (and there have been some legitimate criticisms; books have much more space to explore the finer details), but almost always simply gloss over the opposite. Show Oberyn is SO much better than his book counterpart. For starters, he has increased presence and more scenes. Existing scenes (like the one where he visits Tyrion in the dungeons) are reworked and are a flat-out improvement. Finally, Pedro owned the role!

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    28. Arianne Tyrell,

      I thought that the line about the Tyrells not being great fighters had to do with the Reach being so prosperous and peaceful. Their fighting forces were never needed to be as sharp as others. I didn’t get a masculinity or lack-there-of vibe at all.

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    29. WorfWWorfington: Overcompensating to give Ellaria more power after the reaction to Sansa-Ramsay. This eliminates Siddig, makes the Myrcella-Trystane thing senseless,

      I am curious. D&D obviously intended to have Dorne Season 6 storyline unfold differently. From Siddig’s interview we know he wasn’t meant to die in Episode 1 and it’s also clear that Trystane initially had a bigger role in King’s Landing. Any thoughts on how the original plan was supposed to play out?

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    30. Jenny,

      Gods, I hated Qyntin. It is the only time I have ever hated a good-hearted character. He also made me dislike Daenerys who came off as such superficial creature in her dealings with him. I remember wishing for Barristan and Missandei to be the only ones to survive that storyline.

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    31. Dee Stark:

      I think Oberyn was loved on the show because of Pedro Pascal. That’s it.

      Yeah his character was bad ass but Pedro MADE him

      Yes he did! That character could so easily have come off corny, but he was fabulous.

      I thought Siddig was fabulous also, but wasted. An unfortunate casualty of the need to shortcut the story.

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    32. Dee Stark,

      I am not sure if that is a fair assessment, having read the books I find that Oberyn was one of those characters that made a seamless transition from book to screen. Yes Pedro brought it but the blueprint created for the character was already there. Many actors have enhanced their characters, I think Pedro honored the character that GRRM created. But of course it all remains a matter of opinion.

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    33. Ryan,

      My bittersweet ending is the white walkers are winning and everyone is dying and at the last moment Bran does what he has to do which is go back in time and prevent the Night King from ever being created. Weve already seen the scene.

      This would cause everything that has happened to basically evaporate much in the way the three-eyed Raven did when the night king killed him in the present. No one would sit on the Iron Throne because there wont be one. Now that’s a bittersweet ending.

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    34. Arianne Tyrell,

      Yes, I know what Martin said. There are several hundred additional characters in the books too! Shall we lament their exclusion as well? As for myself, I am inconsolable by the absence of Lord Rodrick Harlaw of the Ten Towers on the Iron Islands, his sisters Gwynesse and Alannys Harlaw, and his relatives Sigfryd, Boremund, Hotho, Harras, Eerl, Gevin, and Dyk Harlaw. I am also quite dismayed by the lack of the irreplaceable members of House Tallhart: Helman, Benfred, Eddara, Leobald, Brandon, and Beren. We shall never see their like again! 🙂

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    35. Tycho Nestoris:

      “You can’t tell the Sand Snakes apart in the books either.”

      Haha, speak for yourself. They are easy to differentiate in the books imo. Now, Arianne and Nym are similar in the books fwiw.

      My memory of the books isn’t that great, but I was surprised how petite the SS seem in the show – Obara in particular, I pictured as more like Brienne than what we see in the show. Did I make up my own physical description? Lol. I don’t really want to jump on SS-bashing wagon, but they did seem like pouty little girls vs. the fierce women I expected. I think part of it is the show making Ellaria the lead/focus and they were just like a trio of backup singers. I think it only stands out because the rest of the characters in this world are so richly drawn? Idk, not a big deal.

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    36. Danny,

      I was also bored out of my mind with the Quentyn chapters, but I think they’re in there to give Dorne a plausible reason to oppose Daenerys and side with fAegon when Dany actually gets around to arriving in Westeros. Dorne is not going to be pleased with what they will perceive as Dany’s spurning of their offer of assistance and (depending on how the rumors and news reaches them) the “execution” of their prince by dragon fire.

      Also very curious about what’s going on in the books with placing Loras at Dragonstone. Is he going to be there when Daenerys arrives? Does he cede the castle to her in response to Cersei’s treatment of Margaery? Or does he hold Dragonstone against fAegon, for whatever reason? Or maybe he just dies, who knows. But it feels like something else is going on there.

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    37. Mr Fixit,

      Siddig said he played the character like he was hiding his true intentions. Let’s assume a couple of things:
      1) Dorne still has to get wiped off the board by now (or very soon)
      2) Myrcella still has to die, preferably before Tommen

      Let’s assume first that the real intention was still for Ellaria to kill Myrcella and that she did it with Doran’s blessing.

      * The opening scene is not “Weak Men will never rule Dorne” but Doran revealing he knew all along (Viper/Grass?) and that the Sand Snakes on the boat are not there to spear Trystane in the face, but to get him the hell out of there and to safety.

      * Doran turns Trystane into Quentyn and he goes off to court Dany and he gets enmeshed in all that nonsense. Maybe he’s killed by the slavers after Dany rejects him. (Really makes no sense to have him killed by a dragon in this scenario)

      * The ending scene with Oleanna and Varys “Fire and Blood” is instead given to Doran AND Ellaria and whatever Snakes are left. And then you can still remove Dorne in much the same way they have already. Except Doran gets his “Michael Corleone in Godfather III” moment and dies in his chair after he loses his entire family.

      Now, let’s go with Trystane and Myrcella make it to KL safe:

      * Doran insists on having two of the Snakes there as bodyguards.
      * Ellaria questions/confronts him, but he then explains what he’s up to (Viper/Grass) and sends her off to go see Dany and she does the recruiting.
      * The Sand Snakes cause problems in KL for the Lannisters. Trystane and Tommen become friends, which annoys Cersei.
      * Myrcella and Trystane somehow get caught in the Sept explosion or killed together another way. Or the Mountain kills Trystane and Myrcella gets in the way and dies too. Or… and this is diabolical.. TRYSTANE is in on the poisoning of Myrcella.
      * Fire and Blood, Varys, Oleanna, etc…
      * Dorne falls off the board again. Euron does the Euronning. Doran dies having failed. Cersei still Mad Queens.

      Maybe if you gave the Snakes more to do, the actresses do better. (I have little hope for the kids playing Trystane and Myrcella, which is why it’s probably better to go with Ellaria poisoning Myrcella and Trystane getting killed in Mereen.)

      It still sends Cersei over the edge and still gives Jaime his fatherhood moment. You still get Cersei/Ellaria. Trystane would be improved by interacting with Tyrion. And Oleanna and Doran would be amazing together.

      BUT… they overcorrected. What they should have in Season 5 is:
      1) Give Sansa more agency and have her willingly have sex with Ramsay because she’s trying to let his guard down and kill him. (Probably doesn’t work, and the resultant abuse can still stir Theon out of Reek)
      2) Keep Sansa-Ramsay, but get rid of the godforsaken Craster’s Keep scene that was just ridiculous.
      3) Go back in time and insert a voice-over from Lena Headley showing that Cersei actually consented to sex at the foot of Joffrey’s coffin.

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    38. Of the old gods,

      I recall obara being a sturdy type but not tall like brienne. I completely agree about the backup singer. Ellaria was the diva though so it made sense. They even look more like Ellaria than their book counterparts. That’s what I like most about book SS though. They all have such different mothers and appearannces but with an Oberyn side that’s similar.

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    39. On the page Dorne serves a different purpose , seemingly , to connect the “Griff” story to the main plot. Something the show has totally done away with.
      It is very hard to know where that story is going on the page.
      So it almost seems D&D didn’t plan well or changed their minds about Dorne.
      They go to the trouble of casting and producing ‘Dorne’ and then say Never Mind!
      So the Dorne crew are given the Bum’s Rush , its odd.

      I am not one of those who is disdainful of Dorne on the page , tho not one of my favorite GRRM gardenings.

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    40. Mr Fixit: I am curious. D&D obviously intended to have Dorne Season 6 storyline unfold differently. From Siddig’s interview we know he wasn’t meant to die in Episode 1 and it’s also clear that Trystane initially had a bigger role in King’s Landing. Any thoughts on how the original plan was supposed to play out?

      I think we won’t know that until after season 8. At least I hope we do.

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    41. Arianne Tyrell: In the Tyrell family, Loras is not the eldest son in the books. There are two older brothers, Willas and Garlan. I didn’t just put them in for hoots and giggles, they have roles to play in the last two books, and they don’t exist in the show.”

      Well I guess we will find out their role in about 10 years when the next book comes out and we are on this forum discussing the final season of the GOT spinoff

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    42. Of the old gods,

      Whoops. You are correct about Obara. She’s “long legged” in the books. I think I was thinking of Brawne Lamia from Hyperion Cantos. OT if Hyperion is ever made into a movie or TV show, I want Gwendoline Christie to play her.

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    43. Mr Fixit,

      Whoa, lay off The Reader!! Them’s fighting words☺️

      Seriously, how does a book lover not like him…

      Rodrik: I prefer my history dead. Dead history is writ in ink, the living sort in blood.

      Asha: Do you want to die old and craven in your bed?

      Rodrik: How else? Though not till I’m done reading.

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    44. WorfWWorfington,

      Sorry, but that all sounds awful and unnecessarily convoluted.

      And you realise that the Craster’s Keep scene was 12 episodes earlier in the show (4×04) than Sansa and Ramsay’s wedding night (5×06), right?

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    45. Boojam: I think we won’t know that until after season 8. At least I hope we do.

      I would love to know this too.
      Also, the original plan for Ghost in BotB, so it can live as the story in my mind:)

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    46. Chris,

      This comment truly baffles me. We spent a solid half hour on Dragonstone. How the hell was the development between Jon and Dany cut short! They were some of the lengthiest, dialogue filled scenes in the history of the show. And thats just to dtart with!

      A whole season worth of material? How? Two people meeting for the first time, and House with only one named character falling, should have taken 3 times as long as The Godfather?

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    47. Mr Fixit,

      So true
      so many characters fleshed out / expanded by the show:
      Margaery, Olenna, Loras, Renly, Lancel, High Sparrow, Sam, Gilly, Grey Worm, Missandei, Tormund, Bronn, pod…

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    48. To the author of the article,

      You really need to re-read AFFC (and to a lesser extent ADwD) FAR more carefully.

      GRRM uses a different device when writing Cersei’s chapters than he does with other POVs. By the time we get to Cersei’s chapters in AFFC, the author is providing the reader with a variant of The Unreliable Narrator. The twist is that instead of the narrator lying to the reader, the narrator misses things that the reader is intended to pick up on.

      GRRM does this again, albeit with a POV where the POV himself is delusional due to PTSD with Theon’s chapters in ADwD. There, things are happening which the POV is deliberately hiding from himself. So he really IS lying to the reader.

      With Cersei’s chapters however, it a different sort of subtlety at work. Cersei’s problem is that she is nowhere NEAR as clever as she thinks she is. In fact, Book Cersei is pretty stupid.

      So Cersei blames her handmaids for washing her dresses and having them shrink, when she is gaining weight. And most especially, Cersei misses when people are lying to her.

      Cersei fails to understand that the Lady Merriweather is a Tyrell Honeypot. She accepts far too blithely reports of things that she should treat more critically.

      Which brings me to your mistake in the article above. You accept that Loras was injured and disfigured by burning oil when assaulting Dragonstone. It is true that these reports are conveyed to Cersei. What you miss is that when the news is given to Margaery, Merriweather leaves Cersei’s bed that night and goes to be with Margaery to console the young Queen.

      What she is really doing is going to Margery to tell her that Loras isn’t really hurt. It’s all a ploy to have Cersei believe Loras is hurt. And that’s why she goes to the Queen that night to whisper the truth to her in her bedroom, where the little birds of the Red Keep cannot hear.

      Why lie about Loras’ health?

      Unlike the show, Book Cersei’s guilt or innocence will be determined in a trial by combat. And Lady Merriweather goes to great lengths before Cersei is arrested to subtly remind the Queen Regent that her honor must be defended in any trial by combat by a member of the Kingsguard. Nobody else is permissible.

      Problem: If Cersei believes that Loras was not injured, then she will be likely to choose Loras to defend her in a trial by combat. Loras is the 2nd best swordsman in the Seven Kingdoms. (Only his brother Garland is better). The Tyrells do not want Cersei choosing Loras to be her champion. They don’t want to risk Loras’ life for Cersei — and they want Cersei’s champion to lose. Cersei won’t choose Loras as her champion if she believes Loras has been injured by burning oil while assaulting Dragonstone.

      Because there is no POV in the books that actually sees Loras get injured. It’s just a battlefield report given to Cersei.

      As Cersei believes Loras is hurt, she will end up appointing Robert Strong to the Kingsguard aka, the UnGregor and book readers will get CleganeBowl. (The Tyrells do not see that coming, but that it beside the point.)

      Anyways, all of this will transpire only because Loras is believed to be critically injured.

      This is not the only plot error you can come away accepting if you do not read Cersei’s chapters FAR more discerningly. GRRM is outright lying to you. You have to puzzle out the truth from the falsehood in her chapters — even if Cersei cannot.

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    49. Mao,

      Love it.. and I agree. I have found this season almost the opposite, each scene is being given more time. Less amounts of jumping around locations. The plot has sped up, but the scene have more room to breath, I think the pacing of the show so far in season 7 to be the best since Season 1.

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    50. Steel_Wind,

      While I applaud your solid theorycrafting, that’s a whole lot of supposition there. Cersei choosing Loras as her champion? You REALLY believe she’d pick a damn Tyrell for a trial by combat when she has Frankenmountain right by her side? I always thought Cersei sent Loras away do that he wouldn’t fight for Margaery in her trial. Anyway, none of this is written. All we can do is guess.

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    51. Boojam:
      Mr Fixit,

      Are you telling me , straight up, you don’t miss Penny’s brother!

      I need not only Penny, but her pig as well.

      #JusticeForPigs #MakePigsGreatAgain #PigJoustingNowOrNever #AKingdomForAPig #ToPigOrNotToPig

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    52. Loras and Renly were rather kick-ass in the books. I felt the show went a little girly-man with their story. Renly being horrified by blood, etc.

      In the end, I feel that show Renly got a better showing than Loras. 1. Brienne’s devotion is suitably highlighted. 2. It is shown that he is beloved by people because he is kind to them.

      On the other hand, Loras comes off as rather vacuous in the show. Perhaps this is to highlight Marg as a keen player? I am not sure. In the books, she is rather a non-entity – another to bear the brunt of Cersei’s wrath now that Sansa is not around to be kicked.

      The Queen of Thorns was fun in the books but has now totally been eclipsed by her show version in my mind.

      Willas is a name bantered about in the books but has no real presence. Garlan’s most memorable outing to me was his talking to Tyrion during Joffery’s wedding feast. Other than that, I cannot recall him much other than he was strapping like Renly.

      The Dorne plot in the show was a fiasco. Siddig was criminally underused and the recast of Myrcella was jarring. The only time I cared one jot for the story was when Cersei poisoned the baby snake. It was well acted by all the ladies involved. Kudos to them.

      Otherwise, the Dorne plotline was inflated to ride the coattails of Pedro’s performance which was show stopping. I hated Oberyn in the books but could not wait to see what the Red Viper did next on the show.

      Applause to Dame Dianna Rigg and Pedro Pascal for elevating their characters on the screen. Both incarnations far outshone their book counterparts.

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    53. Condensing and cutting out entire story lines was necessary for the show, but left the quandary of what to do with main characters who, in the books, were tied to the shortened/cut lines. In the book, Sansa and Little Finger are still in the Vale, where one of the released Winds of Winter chapters is building towards some important event that is about to happen, probably at the imminent tournament. Cutting the Vale plot freed Sansa’s character on the show to travel to Winterfell and take over the “bride of FrankenRamsey” story line. Everything Little Finger and Sansa have done since leaving the Vale in the show is show only. Same with Varys – everything since Tyrion’s escape is show only. Since Oberyn’s demise, everything to do with Dorne is show only. Brienne’s story line diverged once she left King’s Landing to search for Sansa. Tyrion took over Barriston Selmy’s role in Mereen; Ser Barriston is still alive in the book universe, running Mereen in Dany’s absence. And so on and so on.

      With all that, I enjoy the show for what it is – and it is not the same story as in the books. If I had any doubt about that, they were erased by the ridiculous show interpretation of Ned’s Tower of Joy fever dream. The show “revealed” the events at the ToJ pretty much exactly as Ned had dreamed it when he was racked with pain and fever and anguish over vague broken promises while lying in the filth and darkness of the black cells beneath King’s Landing. I didn’t believe the dream was an accurate portrayal of events when I read it, and the show’s perfunctory rendition of the dream (via Bran’s travels through time and space) certainly did nothing to change my mind.

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    54. twiceagain: Everything Little Finger and Sansa have done since leaving the Vale in the show is show only.

      If it ever gets written, I am pretty sure Sansa will end up rescuing Jon/defeating Ramsey using the Vale army, however this will probably be her homecoming to Winterfell, rather than something she arranges from Winterfell. Meaning they are back to the book plot at the end of S6. Knowing they had to get to this point, the writers as you say figured why not combine her and Theon’s storylines in the meantime instead of introducing two new supporting characters (Harry the Heir and Jeyne Pool).

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    55. mau,

      Wow, hot take alert!!!

      House Tyrell’s adaptation was much better of course thanks to the excellent casting of the major players. The entire plot of Dorne outside of Oberyn was just terrible. Why cast such a great actor as Doran, if you’re not going to use him? I get having to reduce the number of characters…but it would not have been hard in the same number of scenes to have the Martells stay in the game.

      Have Doran and his children be focus with just one son and daughter. Make Ellaria pacifist like in book in background with one Sand Snake. Dorans children and one Sand snake enact abbreviated queen maker plot with typical HBO sexposition scene with Myrcellas kings guard. Jump to scene in desert with Areo catching them and Myrcella accidentally dying. Even have Doran lose son in desert as kingsguard seeing Myrcella dead takes revenge before Areo puts him down. Then just one more scene with Doran explaining how he had planned to wed his daughter and bring Targaryean rule back but that some damn horse lord ruined that. Enter snake and grass speech as well, abbreviated of course.

      Then you have Arianne on the ship at the end of Season 6 in the group shot heading west from Meereen….and we’d go from there in Season 7.

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    56. A note on the endgame and GRRM’s gardening habits.

      Is there a single major player left, who was not introduced in S1?

      Only one: Euron Greyjoy, but he’ll die.

      All the ones that matter, Dany, Jon, Sansa, Arya, Cersei, Jaime, Varys, LF, the Hound, Samwell, Theon were introduced in book 1 and S1.*

      These are the people who are important for the endgame, as planned by GRRM right in the beginning. The endgame will be all about Starks, Lannisters, Targaryens, dragons and White Walkers as clearly established in the start – not about Tyrells, Martells, Stannis, fake-Aegon, Darkstar, Arianne and Penny the she-dwarf.

      The choices D & D make, based on the information they have received from GRRM, are very revealing. What they reveal is that GURM’s gardening got out of hand, and he ended up with too much world building and introducing too many characters that do not matter for the overall story. The endgame will be based on stuff that was established right in the beginning.

      (*in addition, there are a handful of characters introduced in S2 or later like Davos, Brienne, Qyburn and Melissandre, who probably matter, but are still only supporting players, whose arcs are very much linked to what the main guys do).

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    57. Dipshit,

      Blasphemy! Penny is Nissa Nissa and Tyrion is Azor Ahai…he will forge Lightbringer when he jabs it into the she dwarfs heart. It is known.

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    58. Another weekly feature! WotW is really indulging us this year.

      Book/show comparison and speculation is quite a brave undertaking at this point. Good article and mostly great comments. Oh, and for the record, I’d like to point out that Garlan Tyrell’s only fine hour wasn’t wearing Renly’s armour. He also trained against two or three because he’s that badass of a swordfighter, and he was courteous and nice to Tyrion and Sansa during the purple wedding (while the other Tyrells shunned them). There are, of course, theories that he was in on the Joff poisoning and his “niceness” to Tyrion and Sansa actually covered him dropping the poison into Joff’s drink…

      Anyway, he’s taken Brightwater Keep, his new lordly seat, from the attainted Florents (Selyse’s family) so is probably about to face some Ironborn action.

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    59. WallyFrench: Have Doran and his children be focus with just one son and daughter. Make Ellaria pacifist like in book in background with one Sand Snake. Dorans children and one Sand snake enact abbreviated queen maker plot with typical HBO sexposition scene with Myrcellas kings guard. Jump to scene in desert with Areo catching them and Myrcella accidentally dying. Even have Doran lose son in desert as kingsguard seeing Myrcella dead takes revenge before Areo puts him down. Then just one more scene with Doran explaining how he had planned to wed his daughter and bring Targaryean rule back but that some damn horse lord ruined that. Enter snake and grass speech as well, abbreviated of course.

      Even this sounds terrible. How about this: Just cut Dorne, since it’s entirely bad no matter what.

        Quote  Reply

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