Game of Thrones has always been far more faithful to the A Song of Ice and Fire books than most TV shows are, but in Season 4 it diverged from the source material in many notable ways. The finale (Episode 10, "The Children") was no exception, making some pretty major additions and, even more notably, cuts from the source material.
What were these changes? We've run down the notable shifts, good, bad and neutral.
Warning: The last point contains a potentially huge spoiler for the future seasons!
1. Jojen dies. There were a couple of changes to Bran's storyline, but this was the most notable. In the books, poor Jojen Reed (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) is still alive. That said, he's in pretty bad shape in the book-verse, and since his main purpose seemed to be to get Bran to his weirwood tree destination, killing him off now makes sense.
2. Brienne meets Arya and The Hound. This didn't happen in the books at all, but we think it was a good addition. The Hound (Rory McCann) does end up wounded and (ostensibly) dying, and making his opponent Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) was a good way to tie both storylines together, and the fight was awesome. That said, Brienne knowing Arya (Maisie Williams) is alive kind of changes things going forward, so we're curious to see how that plays out.
3. Clarity around The Mountain. In the books, The Mountain dies of poison from Oberyn's sword, and although many theorize that Qyburn resurrects him as a new knight named Robert Strong, that's never made explicit. It looks like the show is going to go with that similar story, but more explicitly. We have no issue with this.
4. Jaime and Cersei's sex scene. By this point in the books Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Cersei (Lena Headey) are basically estranged, but here they seemed to be engaging in some happy, consensual sex. We're kind of confused about what dynamic the showrunners are going for here.
Verdict: Mistake, though maybe it will make more sense next season.
5. No Tysha story. In the books, before saving Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), Jaime makes a confession: Tyrion's first wife, Tysha, was not a whore paid to pretend to love him, as Tyrion had always been told. She actually was a poor orphan, like she said. Tywin just forced Jaime to lie about it... and then had his guards gang rape her in front of Tyrion, and even forced Tyrion to take part. Yeah. This story is a major part of the reason Tyrion snaps and goes kill-crazy, and although the murder scenes still went off pretty well, we feel like it's a key part of the picture that's missing.
Verdict: Mistake, though perhaps not a huge one.
Warning: THE NEXT POINT CONTAINS A BIG SPOILER! Click away now if you don't want to know.
6. No Lady Stoneheart. Perhaps the biggest shock for book fans was that the show did not include Lady Stoneheart, AKA the resurrected and now-super vengeful Cat Stark, who makes her first appearance at the very end of Storm of Swords. We think cutting Lady Stoneheart altogether would be a big mistake, but it's possible that waiting to introduce her until next year will ultimately pay off, pacing wise.
Verdict: Wait and see.
What did you think of the changes? Let us know in the comments below!