Game of Thrones Finale: How it Differed From The Books


Last night's season four finale of Game of Thrones was a powerful end to not only a great television season, but a lot of significant characters. While we wait another year to see what is to become of the surviving characters, in the meantime let's reflect back on what we just saw and how it greatly differed from the source material, for better or worse. We promise no more future spoilers, but only events that lead up to, or occurred, within the latest Game of Thrones episode, "The Children." If you haven't seen it yet, we recommend you find something else to read in the sidebar on the right.


Now that you've chosen the path of knowledge, let's dive into the three biggest liberties that HBO's television adaptation took with J.R.R. Martin's books in last night's episode.

3) The Fate of Jojen Reed

    Helen Sloan / HBO

As Brandon Stark, Hodor and the two Reed siblings, Jojen and Meera, finally reach their long-awaited destination far North of the Wall, they are attacked by White Walker zombies. During this scuffle, they are rescued by Leaf, a child of the forest, and meet the three-eyed raven. However, one detail is slightly different here.

Jojen Reed was not killed in this scene. In fact, he's still alive in the books, though we haven't seen him in much action since his party reaches the children of the forest underneath the massive Weirwood tree. Jojen did fall ill and weak at this point, and had to carried on his sister's back to reach the safety of the Weirdwood cave, but he was not stabbed by a Walker, nor mercy-killed by his sister.

Why is it important?
Jojen has been the entire driving force of Bran reaching the Weirwood, and now Bran doesn't really have anyone to talk to outside of his new friends, considering Meera is nearly silent and Hodor isn't much for conversation. However, Jojen's place as mentor to Bran is soon to be replaced by the three-eyed raven, so his character is mostly redundant at this point. A fitting, selfless end to his storyline, but he will miss him.

2) The Showdown with the Hound

    Helen Sloan / HBO

This epic one-on-one between anti-hero Sandor "The Hound" Clegane and noble hero, Brienne of Tarth, was so brilliant in its melodrama, but sadly not in the books.

In the books, The Hound and Arya never even meet Brienne, nor even make it to The Vale. Remember a few episodes back when The Hound and Arya took on a whole band of Lannister soldiers at the crossroads inn? In the books, that's the fateful fight that leaves The Hound mortally wounded. But, in true spirit of the books, Arya does refuse to give The Hound a merciful death, and leaves him to die. Brienne, in her search, encounters another, surprising adversary who we may or may not see next season.

Why is it important?
In the books, the chronicles of Arya and The Hound offer more exposition about the ongoing war in the Riverlands, and the fight with the Lannister soldiers reflects those events. However, this lengthy duel between The Hound and Brienne is pure fan-fantasy of two sword masters who represent completely opposite ideologies--for better or worse--are better matched opponents for one another, and it offers a very climactic, honorable end to a major character. This a big change we just can't disagree with.

1) The Deaths of Tywin and Shae

    Helen Sloan / HBO

The actions of Tyrion Lannister taking the lives of Shae and his father, Tywin, are played very much as they are in the book with one subtle difference: Tyrion's motivation for entering his father's bedroom.

In the book, as Jaime is rescuing Tyrion from his cell, Jaime confesses that Tyrion's first wife, Tysha, was not actually a prostitute as he came to believe. She was, indeed, just the common peasant girl he and Jaime met one day, and she genuinely loved Tyrion. After their marriage, Tywin conspired to humiliate Tyrion from ever marrying outside of nobility again by "revealing" her to be a prostitute in a horrifying, albeit completely engineered, scene for Tyrion to watch. After Jaime's confession, Tyrion is incensed and vows vengeance on his father, sister and even Jaime for his participation in the ruse. To further salt the wound, Tyrion falsely claims responsibility for Joffery's death and tells him of Cersei's infidelities during Jaime's absence at King's Landing. On the toilet, when Tyrion kills Tywin for continuing to use the word "whore," in the book, he's talking about Tysha, not Shae.

Why is it important?
Jaime's confession gives motivation for Tyrion to seek his father out before leaving, presumably to kill him; it absolutely destroys Jaime and Tyrion's relationship; it solidifies Jaime's growing apathy for his sister, Cersei; and the depth of Tywin's injuries onto his son are doubled, with his murder seemingly more justified.

What did you think about the season four finale? Do you agree with the changes? Let us know in the comments.

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