> If you’ve had your head in the sand all last week, then warning, spoilers abound<
It finally happened, Jon Snow is left bleeding on the snow and the show watchers have caught up to the book readers. Now we are all in the same creaky medieval boat, waiting for someone, anyone, be it novelist or show runners, to please just tell us the rest of the story.
I thought I had put my feelings about the Song of Ice and Fire series away. When I finished the books, the summer after watching the first season of Game of Thrones, I had feelings. I wanted more but I knew that I would have to wait. I was also sick, some sort of bronchial infection I believe was brought on by not leaving the house enough or doing anything in my free time beyond reading these long-ass books. So I put my longings in a tiny bronze cabinet in my head, the one reserved for book feelings, and I locked it away and took up running.
But the cabinet is open again after this season, all the feelings are back, and I have to know right now what happens next and whether or not Jon Snow, as actor Kit Harington and the sheer number of stab wounds in that scene would indicate, is actually dead and gone. Does hot actor Kit Harington know something, or does he in fact know nothing? I DEMAND ANSWERS!
While I was endangering my health and sanity reading these massive books, Dinah, an avid book reader herself, decided to trust HBO and opted not to read the books. As a result, for four long years of our friendship, I became the keeper of secrets, gleefully waiting for her to find out about the worst events our man Martin would throw at us, and now we are here, we are at the last smoking page in the books. AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MY FEELINGS!
So I thought this would be a good time to get a few things off my chest about the differing experiences of reading the books over watching the show. Here are six things SOIAF readers would like GoT watchers to know!
1 – Did I mention the books were long? Yes? Well, I would like to cover that again. Holy s—t that’s a lot of world-building.
I think now would be a good time to release another book (please?) Imagine the sheer number of folks who would rush out and pay just about anything for another heavy-ass hardcover that might tell them what happens next.
However, if some miracle occurred and a book did come out (please?) I would probably get lost almost immediately. For all the characters and worlds that appear in the show (the opening credits have become almost farcically long) the world of the books is bigger and even more unwieldy.
I’m going to have a really hard time remembering who is what and who was where, and what can I do about that? It is not like I’m going to read the books again. As I mentioned above, I spent so much time with these tomes and not enough time getting fresh air, that I guess I read myself into what we might call a “sweating sickness.” Except nothing like the historical sweating sickness, which is mysterious and horrifying. More like a variety of ‘you stink because you haven’t taken the time to leave the Red Keep and shower sickness,’ with a bit of the flu mixed in, either way, there was a lot of sweating.
2 – The Red Wedding
Can we just take a moment to appreciate how amazing the book readers have been at keeping secrets? At no point did we just run up to our friends and loved ones who were living in their cozy little pre-red wedding worlds and yell “HEY GUESS WHAT? EVERYBODY DIES! AND ALL OF YOUR HOPES WILL TURN TO ASHES IN YOUR MOUTH.”
I mean, some of us deserve a medal.
3 – POV incest thoughts
Aww, that scene with Myrcella and Jamie was sweet, the one right before she definitely probably maybe dies.
Anyway wasn’t that sweet? “I don’t think it’s weird at all that you’re my uncle AND my father, I think it’s nice, blah blah blah croak.” That was nice and then a bit heartbreaking, and not at all creepy. I guess we’re supposed to take that poisoning bitch Ellaria’s advice and just accept that the most universal cultural taboo in the history of human society is just another type of misunderstood love and move on, like the Dornish apparently already have? It’s all decidedly accepting.
Book readers, on the other hand, get to go on a completely different journey with the incest stuff. All of a sudden in book three Jamie appears as a point of view character. And what is Jaimie thinking? If you guessed incestuous sexy thoughts then you would be right. Let me tell you, we got to read a huge amount of twincest garbage on Jamie’s long road towards redemption. Jamie traveling with Brienne, thinking about his sister. Jamie getting into misadventures and discovering a deeper side of himself, and thinking about sex with his sister. And so on. It was seriously gross guys, and like everything else in the books, there was a lot of it.
You know what it reminds me of? It’s like when you talk to the youths today and they’re like “Ooh Robert Pattinson’s dreamy, and I love reading emotionally complex books about teenagers and love and cancer” and you’re like “You have no idea how good you have it. When I was your age there wasn’t even such a thing as YA literature. Do you know what we had? Flowers in the f*cking Attic, and that was about a brother and sister locked in an attic together and incest. And it was gross. And I wish I could unread it.”
4 – Point of view switching
The books are organized in a way that each chapter gets a different character’s point of view. So a chapter headed ‘Jamie’ will continue Jamie’s part of the story from his point of view. Each chapter switches to a different character and each chapter ends on a cliff hanger. So you have to slog through a bunch of Iron Born story, and then some political maneuvering in the Red Keep, and then over to Stannis all the way on the Dragon Islands or wherever the heck, before you can find out if Arya did really just die or if it was only another close call. It’s really hard to deal with OK? And every time you see a chapter heading titled THEON you’re like, “groan” not this again.
The only thing close to time the show came close to how this felt for book readers was in the most recent episode where four characters possibly – maybe – definitely – almost – probably die in quick succession and we have to wait until next season to find out what happens next. For book readers the season finale felt like coming home.
5 – I only have four things… for now.
But points five and six were getting too unwieldy so I had to make them into their own blog posts, which will be posted real soon, seriously, I’m half-way through writing them already. It’s totally not going to take five more years before the Comedy Wives get back to talking about Westeros. Well, all right it might take five more years, but definitely by the time the web show based on my blog posts has been written, filmed and released I’ll have something for you. Definitely by then.