The Night Lands Review: A Novel Approach
I was just getting my feet wet last week when I wrote my first Novel Approach column. This week, I think I have more interesting insight to share and I hope you'll agree.
Remember: for a review of "The Night Lands" from the perspective of a Game of Thrones newbie, click on the preceding link. For the take of someone who knows the novels well, read below...
The Long Suffering Character Award Of the Week Goes To... Daenerys!
While other beloved characters in the book have skipped through chapters, darted around in and out of them, had material written and taken away, it's Dany - the lone female with any claim to the Throne - who is suffering the most at the hands of Season Two. We've seen about 10 pages of material here, and so far they've killed her beloved white horse and sent back the first outrider seemingly riderless, but with the riders head in a bag. It's not as if Martin had painted the picture of the Red Waste to be a festival of roses.
Dany saw her favored handmaiden Doreah perish from starvation (on the show she lives on), and her entire retinue suffered horribly as they were on constant guard that one of the other Khals may find them and slay them all. But there was light. The first rider back brought not only his body attached to his head, but news of a dead city ahead. A city that gave them hope to move on. I can only hope that will be coming shortly because right now the Red Waste might as well be called the Incredible Brown Paper Bag of Doom. She's taking in far more crap than was ever meant to be in there and they can't punch their way out.
Change a Little, Change a Lot
Say what? Here are some examples where by changing the circumstances or context of a scene from the novel can alter the intention of the author in a way that won't be recovered. Let's start with something simple. Theon's arrival at his home of Pyke was definitely dismal, but in the novel it was even more so when he was denied immediate contact with his father and shown to his chambers instead. Chambers that hadn't been tended to in years. Cold, damp and with a mattress of moldy rushes, it set the stage for how welcoming his father was going to be. Could they have used 30 seconds for that scene? I think so. It helped to drag Theon down just one more peg before stepping before Balon.
Was there a need to take away some of Jon Snow's humanity? The way the scene played out with Gilly, you would think so. In the novel, Sam sets him up by having Gilly speak to Jon directly. Jon has a heart of gold and it was most difficult for him to hear of her plight. He let Sam have it for the set up and he couldn't shake the guilty feeling, knowing the sons were given over to the Wildlings like sacrificial lambs. A part of him wanted to try to come back through on their way back, even knowing the odds were against. it. Jon believes in people. He wouldn't need to see a baby dropped off for himself to know it to be true. Now he's been thumped on the head. Uh oh!
A lot of text was crammed into the Arya and Gendry scene, as well. Gendry was raised to respect high born individuals, and when he learned Arya was a Stark, he genuinely began calling her milady. She was afraid he would blow her cover if he didn't get over it quickly. While it was cute the way the scene went down, I also think it important to remember where he came from and what was in his heart. That he used the word cock over and over in front of her was humiliating for him, and really endearing to the reader.
Finally, they could have left out the Stannis scene. It didn't flow well, and seemed to just be jammed into the night's action for another naked body and a sex scene. Queen Selyse, his wife, was not sickly nor locked in a tower. Perhaps on screen one woman was enough for him, and being Melisandre it made Stannis look somewhat insane, so the end justified the means.
Stay True To The Source Scene of the Week
This week's scene that fell into place just as I would have expected was when Tyrion ousted Lord Janos from his seat as the commander of the City Watch and replaced him with Bronn. Bronn, who was once and enemy and now a dear friend was the perfect choice. There was a middle bit that included the discussion with Varys about who ordered the hit on Robert's bastards, but since the rest of it went rather well, it wins. Right down to this exchange: Tyrion: "If I told you to kill a babe...an infant girl, say, still at her mother's breast...would you do it?" Without question?" Bronn: "Without question? No. I'd ask how much."
This week's adaptation gets 3 out of 5 pages because I'm feeling the viewer is missing out on some of what made the story so compelling. What differences or similarities are you finding interesting and notable? Leave a comment!