Game of Thrones Season 3: Biggest Changes From the Books
Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO ©2013 Home Box Office    

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones Season 3: Biggest Changes From the Books

As adaptations go, Game of Thrones is a fairly faithful one. However, you can't keep everything exactly the same when moving from an expansive series of novels to a 10 episode per season TV program, and Season 3 was rife with changes. Where did the show go right, and where did it misstep? We've taken a look at the biggest changes from the book to the show — good and bad.

The Good

Margaery Tyrell. Margaery's characterization delighted us in Season 2, and it only got better in Season 3. In the books, it's never quite clear how much agency she has, but the show didn't shy away from making her an intelligent, manipulative player more than capable of going toe-to-toe with Cersei.

Melisandre uses Gendry. In the books, Melisandre used her magic on a different bastard of Robert's, Edric Storm. Combining Edric and Gendry on the show was a smart move — it gave Gendry more to do, and cut yet another tertiary character who would have only added to the long list of characters whose names viewers don't know.

Barristan didn't hide himself. In the books, Barristan kept his identity a secret from Dany for a long time, leading to Dany feeling betrayed when she learned the truth. It was a good plot in the books, but wouldn't have translated well on screen, since viewers can see who Barristan is, and there was already enough going on.

Trimming characters. Did we need to see Barristan's companion, Strong Belwas? Nope. Did we need Sansa's Ser Dantos plot? While cutting it reduced Sansa's role in a way that is a little unfortunate, overall it was a good call — it would have just muddied the already complex King's Landing story. Likewise, getting rid of Willas Tyrell and just using Loras in his place for the Sansa/Cersei engagement plot was an economical move.

The Neutral

Shae's characterization. In the books, it doesn't seem like Shae really loves Tyrion; in the show, she does. In the books, she doesn't care about Sansa; here, she's devoted to her. We like TV Shae much more as a character. The only reason this change is in the neutral category is that we can't see TV Shae doing some of the things book Shae does later down the line. We're withholding judgement until we see how the writers handle her arc next season.

No Coldhands? In the books, the mysterious, intelligent wight called Coldhands is responsible for bringing Sam and Gilly back to the Wall; he also leads Bran and Co. north. We put this change in the neutral category because our feelings about it depend on what happens next season — cutting Coldhands entirely would be a huge mistake, but we're happy as long as he shows up in Bran's story next year. There was more than enough Sam and Gilly as it is.

Theon's story. We understand that the writers weren't going to have Theon disappear for two seasons, but we're not convinced we needed to see quite as much torture as we did. That said, the actors killed this material, and we're tentatively excited about the Yara rescue plot, so we're calling this change neutral for now.

Jaime's return to King's Landing. This is another change that we'll have to wait and see on. In the books, Jaime doesn't turn up in King's Landing until after Joffrey's dramatic wedding — having him in the city for the event will probably change the dynamics amongst the Lannisters, and we're not sure whether or not it will be for the better.

The Bad

Dany becomes more passive. We adored Dany in the first half of the season; the Astapor arc was exactly what we wanted. However, while streamlining the plot around Yunkai — in the books there are two different sellsword companies, amongst other changes — the writers managed to write out Dany's contribution to her military's strategy. We know they needed to establish Daario as trustworthy by having him come up with the plan to sack Yunkai, but it would have been nice to see Dany give some real input.

Robb and Talisa. Just ... Robb and Talisa. We've written an entire article about how the show's construction of Robb and Talisa's story completely destroyed Robb's arc, so we'll just leave it at that.

What did you think were the biggest changes? Which delighted you, and which upset you? Sound off in the comments below.

Rebecca Martin is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @BeccaDMartin.