Why you need to re- read GOT
IT’S the biggest TV sensation of the decade and everyone is hotly awaiting its final season next April. Today, learn why you should read the Game Of Thrones books, by HarperCollins Australia Head of International Publishing Michael White
IT’S the biggest TV sensation of the decade and everyone is hotly awaiting its final season next April. Today, we explain why fans need a recap of the original books before season launch.
HBO’s adaptation of George RR Martin’s Game Of Thrones premiered in 2011 and quickly became a global phenomenon unlike anything viewers had seen before.
But, for anyone who had read the books, the success of the television show came as no surprise. Epic, addictive, multi-layered and totally unpredictable, A Game Of Thrones, the first book in the series A Song Of Ice And Fire, was already a bestseller in the genre and yet unlike anything readers had read before.
The series has now gone on to sell over two million copies in Australia alone.
George RR Martin grew up appreciating film and television and indeed spent much of his career as a screenwriter.
He brought this experience to his writing — each book unfolds like it was destined for the screen, with twists and turns and infuriating cliffhangers that leave readers powering through the pages and clamouring for more.
Some readers are so desperate for their next fix that Neil Gaiman took to Twitter a few years ago to ask everyone to give George a break! Ironically George has said that one of the reasons he wanted to write Game Of Thrones was that he was frustrated by the constraints of writing for television, of having to constantly cut back characters or scenes due to time or budget constraints.
George has a welldeveloped sense of pace and his characters become real to the reader just as much as they are to the viewer — perhaps even more so because of that magical little piece of alchemy that happens in your mind when you’re reading something good — really good. There’s an immersion that happens when you get lost in a book.
It can be a surprise to look up and discover that you’re not actually at Winterfell.
There may be a clear distinction between good and evil in the overall story, but George likes the grey characters; the inhabitants of his stories are fully human in their desires, fears, greed, love and ambition. It’s what makes them so wonderful to read.
No one embodies this better than Tyrion Lannister. He is one of the main pointof-view characters in the books, with a wicked wit, an enthusiasm for wine and whores and a complex relationship with his family — especially his father, a relationship which unfolds in the books in a fascinating way and which the TV addresses only briefly.
He is also emotionally intelligent and a book lover, thoughtful and with a conscience (rare among the Lannisters).
Readers always struggle to reconcile what they picture in their minds with what is on screen. It is difficult now, even for the most hardened fan of the book, not to see the actor Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister.
He is perfect for the role but is he what we imagined before? Who can remember? It’s all so meta now. George created such well-developed characters in the novels, there was always a risk that the series would not be able to capture them — Tyrion being the most difficult — but they did it spectacularly well.
To add insult to injury for the poor reader who has had their favourite characters taken out of their head and rendered into flesh and blood, we now have the unusual situation where the TV has moved beyond the books.
Where book readers previously watched episodes, looking forward to nonreaders’ reactions to events like the Red Wedding, now no one except the cast and crew (and George) knows what to expect.
The final series will be screening in April on Foxtel next year.
I can only imagine what sort of pressure this puts on George as the writer, to stay in his own head and not be influenced by the TV. But there are so many tantalising differences — entire subplots or characters that the TV could not accommodate, such as another missing Targaryen alive and well and poised to rival Jon Snow’s or Daenerys’ claims to the Iron Throne — that The Winds Of Winter, the next instalment of the book series, will be hugely rewarding.
It will stand in an interesting and unique relationship to the other books in the series and to the reader, giving us an intriguingly parallel version of Westeros. Both series, the TV and the books, will likely end in a similar place, but the journey each takes us on has become quite different.
George has always had his own vision and his own story to tell in his own wonderful way, epic but grounded.
Knowing George, the story will take many more unexpected twists and turns before the end. I think it’s safe to say that what we have read so far is only a taster of the epic books to come.
Emilia Clarke stars as Daenerys Targaryen in the latest season of Game of Thrones.