What Is Game Of Thrones For?


Ryan Noonan

Ryan Noonan is an economist with a small federal agency. Fields in which he considers himself reasonably well-informed: literature, college athletics, video games, food and beverage, the Supreme Court. Fields in which he considers himself an expert: none. He can be found on the Twitter or reached by email.

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35 Responses

  1. Avatar Zach T. says:

    As someone who has not read the books (and discussed pretty much every episode of this season with this post’s author) I pretty much have to agree – this episode was awesome. In fact, I think almost everything that they’ve done so far in the show has been highly entertaining and exceptionally well done. As of now I get to take the episodes at face value and not constantly compare them to the expectations I would have built up in my head after reading it. There’s no let down for me if they don’t make a scene that I wanted/ change up a character. I only have the universe of the show and it’s self-contained.

    That said, there’s no way that I’m waiting another 10 months to find out what happens next. Time to order me some books!Report

  2. Avatar Plinko says:

    The point of this show is not to stoke the nostalgia each of us has for the books, but rather to use those books to create a piece of art that has some reason to exist in its own right.

    I space agree with this.Report

  3. Avatar Kyle Cupp says:

    I’m in general agreement with this, but I still think it’s fair to judge a television or other adaptation in light of the work of art on which it’s based. Change itself may not be cause for complaint, but if it’s a change for the worse, then, yeah, I’m liable to get a tad miffed. For example, I don’t expect the characters of the television “Game of Thrones” to perfectly correspond to their namesakes in Martin’s books, but I would like for them to be as interesting, developed, etc.Report

  4. Avatar North says:

    Agreed as well. I knew things in the books were not going to make it into the TV show. It was pbvious early on. They pretty much wrote the entirety of House Tully and the Riverlands out of the TV show for instance.

    I’ll admit I’ve been scratching my head over the removal of the Reeds and also of this prophecy thing being so reduced. It makes Dany and Brans futures seem much more enigmatic (I don’t see any reason why Bran will end up where he does in the books without the Reed children).

    Be that all as it may, though, I’m mightily enjoying the TV series.Report

    • Avatar Ryan Noonan in reply to North says:

      There was another bit I was going to add about how the House of the Undying prophecy really is the only thing that narratively connects Dany’s story to Westeros, but it wasn’t quite the place I was going with this post. I do have some questions about what exactly the show is going to do to make Dany important to the story (which they really, really punted on this season), but I have similar questions for Martin as well.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to North says:

      tullys are in next season. huzzah for the Blackfish!Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Kimmi says:

        Boy he’s not gonna have much to do, unless they expand his role (which I’d love, I loved the Blackfish!). I mean you and I both know what’s coming Kimmi and after that things get very sad in the Tully department.Report

  5. Avatar Kimmi says:

    The house of the undying would have had problems even with a fair treatment. But to twist Dany’s storyline so that the House comes only in the last episode??? How cruel. Let her brave the rings (to steal Jordan’s term), if you must… but stretch it out a little.

    They’re either going to have to rely on the masked-lady for exposition, or a lot from … you know who.Report

  6. Avatar Arrow says:

    I haven’t read the books, but did break down after last week’s episode and went to read plot summaries online. Having seen reviews of the newer books (4 and 5), I won’t be reading the series and will be sticking to the HBO show.

    The historical fascination described in this post seems to be a popular source of criticism for how the series of books is progressing. Martin creates an extremely interesting world, and situates his story at a time that is fascinating and extremely influential. However, instead of advancing the plot, he continually drops into backstory. Readers are left waiting almost a decade (in real time), and having read almost 4000 pages of text, with crumbs from the past and an increasing number of cliffhangers, instead of the momentous present that many believed they were promised.

    Again, I haven’t read the books. This is an opinion formed from viewing the show, and from the general theme of amazon reviews. My impression is that the Song of Fire and Ice series is a lot like Lost, or the recent Battlestar Galactica: the creatives behind the show draft a series of mysteries and puzzles in order to create an interesting, engrossing world. For many viewers, the implicit contract for viewership involves an expectation that the ‘big questions’ that drive the show’s founding narrative will be answered, since they are what motivates the existence of the show in the first place. However, while these ‘big questions’ drive many individual episodes, and are often relied upon as a ‘deus ex machina’ excuse for plot twists, their resolution is continually put off, as a carrot to the viewer for following the series until it’s completion.

    Unfortunately they’re often left behind in a mad dash to complete the series, dismissed as being the focus of hardcore obsessives, as the viewer is told that it is really the characters that are the focus of the tv show or book despite the fact that many are extremely shallowly drawn. In reading reviews of books 4/5, where many characters (including those previously believed to be second tier) are in transit without actually reaching their purported destination I couldn’t help be reminded of the last season of battlestar galactica, where a number of world-defining ‘big questions’ remained open. The season’s focus was almost entirely related to episodic stories, where the characters ‘run on a treadmill’, but don’t advance the plot. In the end, most of the series defining questions went unanswered, or were addressed in a perfunctory way.

    I think I’ve seen Martin argue that his books are about the journey, and not the destination. I don’t think that his readers will get to where they’re going, and that’s why I’m not going to read the books, unless the series is completed, and the retrospective reviews are positive. I’m not optimistic, and frankly, am curious as to what HBO will do in 2 years (when they get to book 4), or 4/5 years (if/when they out-pace Martin). I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up being a 3 season series, with the potential to revisit the source material if/when it’s finished.Report

  7. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    I’m reminded of the angst over Peter Jackson not including the Scouring Of The Shire in his movies.Report

  8. Avatar Kolohe says:

    The pic itself, that your eyes are naturally drawn to before hitting the spoiler warning, is a bit of a spoiler. Just sayin’Report

  9. Avatar TomG says:

    Anyone upset over the absence of the Reeds (Bran’s storyline), relax. If you haven’t noticed that the order of events in the books has been frequently shuffled, you weren’t paying attention.

    The Reeds are listed as characters to be cast in Season 3 at Entertainment Weekly’s exclusive look, so what I think is, Bran, Rickon, and the others will meet the Reeds in the first episode of the new season, THEN split up with Bran going with the Reeds. It isn’t too late to insert them into the storyline and have it still make sense.Report

  10. Avatar Morat20 says:

    I’m pretty happy with the changes. Visual medium != written medium. Changes must therefore be made. You can choose fidelity to source, fidelity to story, fidelity to spirit — all sorts of ways of trying to remain faithful to the written work. I think that fidelity to the source, trying to recreate the book exactly (or near exactly) tends to result in the worst results, because the mediums ARE so different.

    (Graphic novels and the like might be an exception. They are already strongly visual).

    Game of Thrones? Remaining pretty true to the spirit, trying to capture the essence of the world and story. Yeah, it’s cutting a lot. But what remains is recognizeably Westeros during that time period, the story is coherent and engaging, and what is loss in story is made up for in visual aesthetic. And bluntly put: A totally faithful adaptation that made a bad TV series would get canceled. A less than perfect adaptation that made a GOOD TV series? It gets a Season Two. Or three in this case.

    Just as a note: In our house Sam is referred to as “Porkins”. (Reference to the guyt in Star Wars: A New Hope.).Report

  11. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Unless the TV people have something very sneaky up their sleeve, there’s a scene in the season 2 finale that destroys the backstory for one of the most famous scenes in book 3.Report

  12. Avatar Kimmi says:

    what do you think about the show’s writers throwing half the stuff from the House of the Undying in later?

    They appear to be listening to their audience — the reeds are back! The Blackfish is gonna show up!Report

    • Avatar TomG in reply to Kimmi says:

      What makes you say the Reeds are “back” ? Was there any evidence that the producers never had them in the original plan, but added them into season 3 because of audience demand? I just think they were kept out of Season 2 because it would have involved hiring 2 actors for just a few scenes in season 2, whereas now they will be in for a full season. I have read enough discussion from George R R Martin and others to show me that this has been done before. It saves money.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to TomG says:

        let me put it like this — the Blackfish had minor roles throughout the first two books. It would have been easy as pie to write him out completely. The fact that he’s back in says something.Report