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I have not read the Game of Thrones books.

But at the same time I have heard of people complaining that there has been deviation from the plot and a lot of characters merit more development and presence.

Has there been a huge difference from the plot of the books when translated to the TV Series or has the series been true to the plot of the books?

P.S. Please confine yourselves to events that have occurred till the end of Season 2.

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Season 1 was awesome. Actually I watched it first, then read the book, and was just blown away that screen practically matched the book. Then watched the series again. Now discovered some nuances dropping details, but it was all okay. Then I read all the other books back to back, and started long wait for S2. And S2 turned disappointing right at the beginning. Cuts, deviations, changing events and characters, everything. By the middle it was off-track completely. Some of my friends has hope that it can be steered back, but it wasn't. For S3 I liked the first episode and it showed some hope tha –  Balog Pal Jun 7 '13 at 19:32
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2 Answers 2

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From IGN - TV-Book Differences:

Point of View:

  • Since the plot in the novel is told from the viewpoints of the principal cast of characters, the show fleshes out certain key scenes that are either absent from the book, implied, or talked about in other chapters.


Character Names:

  • Certain characters have undergone a name change for the TV series to avoid confusion.


Character Appearance:

  • Certain characters within the series have been played by actors who do not share the same physical traits as the said characters.
  • Some characters' races have been changed in the show as well.


Character Additions, Omissions, and Mergers:

  • e.g. Talisa of Volantis, a character not featured in the book, replaces Jeyne Westerling.

  • Some minor characters, like Alton Lannister are substitutions to help move forward key scenes that involve characters omitted from the show.

  • Certain characters had their fates altered and are killed off differently or earlier in the story.

  • Some characters introduced in book 1 or 2 are absent from season 1 or 2, respectively and may appear in later seasons.


[Click the link to see more examples/details, including a breakdown by season]


The Game of Thrones Wiki also has an extensive list of differences:

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Ok yes, the list apparently seems endless. But there must be some differences which stuck out for the book readers.........major differences! –  KeyBrd Basher Dec 13 '12 at 5:05
    
@KeyBrdBasher - Edited my question to include a short overview of differences. –  Oliver_C Dec 13 '12 at 9:39
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Adding to Oliver_c answer:

It's inevitbale to change things (plot, personal stories, characters) when adaptating novels to screenplays, why? Because usually when you read a novel you are reading feelings, thoughts, internal perspectives that the characters have, those things are quite difficult to adapt to film, because in film you are seeing the character from the outside and those feelings, thoughts, etc must be portraited with actions. Unless the character narrates what he/she is feeling, you wouldn't know exactly what he/she's thinking.

It's all about action and of course screen time which can be translated to: "how much we can show in a short amount of time using XXXX money?" :P

Syd Field explains the art behind adaptation in his book "Screenplay: the foundation of screenwriting" if you are curious about it.

And from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_adaptation

Change in adaptation is essential and practically unavoidable, mandated both by the constraints of time and medium, but how much is always a balance. Some film theorists have argued that a director should be entirely unconcerned with the source, as a novel is a novel, while a film is a film, and the two works of art must be seen as separate entities. Since a transcription of a novel into film is impossible, even holding up a goal of "accuracy" is absurd. Others argue that what a film adaptation does is change to fit (literally, adapt), and the film must be accurate to either the effect (aesthetics) of a novel or the theme of the novel or the message of the novel and that the film maker must introduce changes where necessary to fit the demands of time and to maximize faithfulness along one of these axes.

Because I have read the books, I can say, yes, there have been changes in characters, situations, events, etc. But aren't too distant from the original plot / story. They maintain the principal story arch and have made a great work adaptating the story to screen.

Hope this helps a little. And forget my english grammar.

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