Game of Thrones: Delayed Thoughts

I’m liking the series, but then again I know that Shit has not yet Gotten Real, which is where the books tend to lose me.

One thing that always intrigues me is when fans of a book series whine about how a visual adaptation doesn’t fit their image of the characters. Just speaking personally, this has never happened to me — perhaps because no series that I’ve been really invested in has received an adaptation (just Discworld, kinda), but I don’t think it would happen even if they did. When I’m reading a book, I have a general sense of how things are supposed to look, but it’s not so set in stone that anything other than a very specific image would throw me. If someone were to adapt the Belgariad, say, I doubt I’d be huffing and puffing over casting decisions or monster designs.

This is a roundabout way of saying that you won’t receive much commentary from me as to whether an adaptation is source-accurate or not. I always try to take remakes and adaptations on their own terms, to the fury of purists I’m sure. But fuck purists; they suck the life out of anything they’re involved in, so screw ’em.

In fact, the aspects of the television series I’m most enjoying are the ones with little to no basis in the source… little conversations and snippets of dialogue that do not appear (on-stage, at least) in the books. The books are constrained somewhat in that everything significant that happens has to be viewed from the eyes of a viewpoint character. While I’m normally in favor of that (so-called “head hopping” is among the more irritating things an author can do as far as I’m concerned — I’m having trouble getting through a book right now just because the author does it endlessly), it also means that a lot of stuff is happening beneath or behind the reader’s notice in the books, stuff that the TV series can bring to the fore. Last night’s episode was a great example of this, with scenes like Littlefinger and Varys’s dick-measuring contest (metaphorically speaking) and Robert and Cersei’s quiet, reserved discussion about their marriage being things that are interesting to see, but which none of the book’s viewpoint characters had reason to be present for.

I’m really interested in where they’re taking Cersei, actually. They seem to be going out of their way to make her seem more well-rounded and sympathetic than she is in the books. This might come back to bite them later on, when they need her to be a monster in order for the plot to work — but it might not. Cersei was always something of a cardboard cutout in the books — even in A Feast For Crows, where she’s a viewpoint character, seeing things from her perspective just elaborated how shallow and spiteful she really is. It may be that giving her more depth may have the result of giving her villainous actions later in the series more bite. The aforementioned conversation could be viewed in a specific light, not present in the books… but we’ll have to see where it goes to know for sure.

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