By the final season of Game of Thrones, the differences between George Martin’s saga and HBO’s TV series have become incredibly big. In the books, there are characters we’ve never heard of. In the show, some characters are dead but they are still alive in the books. It is impossible to guess how the fight for the Iron Throne will end in the books.
We have read all of the released books and we want to tell you about the most interesting differences between the books and the show. Some of them can change the entire history of the Game of Thrones universe. Attention: spoiler alert!
1. There is no Night King.
The key character from Game of Thrones, the Night King, is the scriptwriter’s and producer’s idea. In the books, the White Walkers don’t even have a leader (but one might appear in the following books).
In Martin’s book universe, the Night King is a character of legends: a Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch who fell in love with a woman from the White Walkers. He made sacrifices to them. He was taken down by the Starks and the wildlings 8,000 years before the events in the book took place.
2. Jon Snow is not a Targaryen.
Ned Stark’s bastard, according to the script of Game of Thrones, turned out to be his nephew and the heir to the Targaryen dynasty. His real name is Aegon Targaryen. In Martin’s books, there is no information that suggests that Jon Snow is a Targaryen. In the book saga, there is a different character named Aegon Targaryen. He is called Young Griff.
Varys saved him as a baby and, all these years, he grew up under a different name. We are not sure of anything at this point because Young Griff may still turn out to be an imposter. However, if his story is true, the plot in the books may end up to be very different from the show.
3. It is not known whether Jon Snow is even alive or dead.
It’s now the 8th year that the book fans have been waiting for the 6th book of the Song of Ice and Fire saga. They want to find out if Jon Snow is alive. Just like in the show, several brothers of the Night’s Watch attack their Lord Commander and take turns stabbing him. Jon loses consciousness and lies in the snow, bleeding. This is where his story ends in the books, for now.
4. Dragons are almost invincible.
At this moment, we don’t know how the dragons will show themselves in the most important battles in George Martin’s books. But what we do know is that the writer designed these creatures as an unbeatable weapon, something like a nuclear bomb in the real world. In his books, the dragons are almost invincible in the air and they continue to grow for as long as they have food.
In the show, it is all a little different. In the final season, Daenerys’ children showed their weaknesses at the sight of the Night King’s spear and Euron Greyjoy’s super crossbow. According to many fans, Game of Thrones dragons are more like fighter jets, rather than a nuclear bomb.
5. Missandei is 10 years old.
The Game of Thrones David Benioff and Daniel Weiss added the love story between Daenerys’ advisor Missandei and the leader of the Unsullied Grey Worm. In the book, there could be no such love story because Missandei was only 10 years old.
6. Tyrion may turn out to be a Targaryen.
One of the most popular fan theories is that Tyrion is not Tywin Lannister’s son, but the son of King Aerys II Targaryen. Nothing in the show hints that, while in the books there are a lot of facts that point to the fact that the Imp could not be a Lannister.
During the period Aerys was King, there were rumors about his connection to Tyrion’s mother. Maybe it was a coincidence, but after Tyrion was born, Aerys hated Tywin Lannister.
Besides, Martin describes interesting details in Tyrion’s appearance: his hair is not as gold as Jaime’s or Cersei’s, but more silver like Daenerys’. One of his eyes is green like his mother’s and the other one is dark, which is often seen in Targaryens.
7. Ramsay Bolton didn’t torture Sansa Stark.
Sansa Stark had a very rough fate. The girl, who suffered a great deal at the hands of Jeoffrey, had pretty much the same treatment from her third husband Ramsay Bolton. It was very hard for the viewers to see what Ramsey did to poor Sansa and how he turned her life into a nightmare.
But this didn’t happen in the books. Sansa was never married to Ramsay. The events described in the show actually happened to the girl who everyone thought was Arya Stark. Ramsay married her to solidify his rights to the throne of the King in the North. But in fact, this “Arya” was Sansa’s childhood friend.
8. Catelyn Stark was revived and she became Lady Stoneheart.
Catelyn Stark is the image of a strong mother and a smart woman. In Game of Thrones, she was killed during the Red Wedding. Her throat was cut. And, in the show, the character’s story ended. In the book, Ned Stark’s wife was revived by the magic of the Lord of Light. When she returned, she became an evil creature, full of hate.
She could only grunt (because the wound on her throat never healed) and there was blood on her scratched face. Lady Stoneheart, who remembers everything but doesn’t know mercy, wants to avenge all of her enemies. George Martin has mentioned several times that he was very sorry that this great character was not in the show.
9. Daenerys was married twice.
Aside from Khal Drogo, the Mother of Dragon’s was also married to Hizdahr zo Loraq — the member of one of the most respectable houses of Meereen. In the show, Hizdahr zo Loraq died trying to protect Dany from the Sons of the Harpy, so he never got to actually marry her. He was only her fiancé.
In the book, Loraq gets married to the Mother of Dragons. But they were never a happy couple. According to the rumors, Hizdahr was one of the leaders of the Sons of the Harpy and tried to poison Dany and order to have one of her dragons killed. In the end, he was pulled down from the throne and put in prison by Ser Barristan.
10. All the Stark children are wargs.
In the show, only Bran was a warg, but in the book all 6 Stark children, including Jon Snow, had magical skills. Wargs can control animals and they have dreams about the future.
The wolves on the sigil of the Northern Kingdom are not just a symbol. There was an unusual connection between the Stark’s wolves and their owners. In the book, there is a description of Ned’s children being able to see through their pet’s eyes and deal with their enemies. By the way, Arya later learned to control cats.
11. There are giant spiders in the army of the dead.
The fans hoped to see giant spiders in the army of the dead in the last season since they were described by George Martin. They were the hounds of the White Walkers.
But the scriptwriters and producers said that these creatures would look ridiculous on the screen.
“Big as hounds. Didn’t we talk about that for 30 seconds? ‘Ice spiders’ sounds good. It would look good on a metal album cover. But once they start moving, what does an ice spider look like? Probably doesn’t look great.”
“Game of Thrones” producer Dan Weiss
12. There are no fireplaces in Winterfell.
According to Martin’s original idea, the Castle of Winterfell is built on a cluster of geothermal sources. Their hot water heats the buildings and the greenhouses that feed the northerners during the long winters. The authors of the show decided to ignore these facts, maybe because they wanted to add some warm scenes with natural light sources.
The fireplaces that are not necessary to have in the book version of Winterfell actually play a big role in the show’s final season. Near the fire, the characters talk about the coming battles, they talk about love, they drink wine, and they sing beautiful songs even though they know they might die the next day.
13. Cersei’s daughter almost became Queen.
In Game of Thrones, Myrcella Baratheon’s life ended, but she is still alive in the book. Cersei’s daughter, however, suffered a lot when she became just a tool in the hands of the powerful and cunning Arianne Martell. The Dornish princess tried to kidnap Myrcella and crown her as Queen of Westeros and start a rebellion against Tommen and Cersei.
Arianne’s plan failed when Myrcella was hurt. A swing of a sword cut her cheek and cut her ear off. But her story is not over yet.
14. Mance Rayder is alive.
The show had far less time for the King-Beyond-the-Wall than the books. In season 5, Stannis Baratheon orders his people to burn Mance on the fire and Jon kills him with an arrow through his heart to stop his suffering. In the book, one of the main people in the wildlings army is burned. But it happened because Melisandre turned him into Mance using her magic.
The saved King-Beyond-the-Wall, who looks like his dead comrade, goes to Winterfell after the Red Woman tells him to. He wants to save the fake Arya from Ramsay Bolton. Unfortunately, the King ends up as Ramsay’s prisoner. We don’t know anything about his fate yet.
15. Khal Drogo didn’t rape Daenerys.
This is another fact showing that David Benioff and Daniel Weiss may love scenes of violence even more than George Martin himself. In the book, the first night when Khal Drogo and Daenerys are together is full of love and there was no rape or any kind of pressure.
16. Robb Stark’s wife survived the Red Wedding.
Let’s just say that Robb Stark’s wife from the show, Talisa, is a character that the scriptwriters and producers invented by themselves. In the book, the King in the North’s wife was Jeyne Westerling, a woman from Westeros.
Jeyne wasn’t at the Red Wedding and she wasn’t killed. Unlike her “double” Talisa, who was stabbed with a child in her womb, Jeyne was not pregnant. He really wanted to give birth to an heir but she never got pregnant.
17. Stannis didn’t burn his daughter.
The heartbreaking scene when Stannis Baratheon’s daughter is burned in a fire after the Red Woman tells him to do it and Stannis agreed, was very strong for his character development. He was blinded by the perspective of power.
In the book, Stannis Baratheon’s daughter is alive and well, at least for now. Stannis didn’t travel to Winterfell with his wife, his daughter, or even the Red Woman. But we know that Stannis’ army was defeated and we don’t know what happened to him afterward. Who knows, maybe he survived and will fight for the throne.
18. There is a kind creature behind the Wall riding a huge elk.
Many book fans were disappointed that the charismatic character, Coldhands, was not on the show. In Game of Thrones, his story is partially Benjen Stark’s role. George Martin described Coldhands as a dead creature that, unlike all others, doesn’t wish evil to people.
He travels behind the Wall on a giant elk and controls a flock or ravens. His hands are cold and solid as a rock. He is one of the most mysterious creatures behind the Wall and we will definitely see more of him in the books.
19. Ser Barristan is alive and he rules Meereen.
The famous knight, Barristan Selmy’s story finished in season 5 when he died in the battle against the Sons of Harpy. In the book, Barristan plays a much bigger role from the first pages and he was a military advisor for Ned Stark. He was against Varys’ plan to Kill Daenerys when she was pregnant.
When he became the Dragon Queen’s loyal advisor, Barristan not only survived the Meereen rebellion but also stayed there as a ruler to keep the city at peace.
20. Little Finger is shorter and doesn’t talk much.
Petyr Baelish in the book, unlike his show variant, is short, this is why his nickname is Little Finger. Besides, in the show, Baelish does a lot of talking, he talks about himself and his plans in the fight for power.
In the book, Lord Baelish is a very closed person who doesn’t talk about his ambitious plans. In King’s Landing, people see him as a cunning businessman who knows how to serve the right people. Nobody has any idea that this man has a claim for the Iron Throne.
Have you read George Martin’s books? Do you think he has a different ending for us?