The Night Lands Review: A Novel Approach

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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...

GoT Novel Approach

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 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!

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Editor Rating: 3.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (122 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


Rakharo was killed off because the actor couldn't return full time to the show. And now that he dies, doreah gets to live because she was the one who died in the red waste in the books


@pegasus: It was Theon's idea (both in the book and in the show, although less expounded upon) that he'll get Balon to fight for Robb against the Lannisters, and in return, the Iron Islands will become their own kingdom, with this secession supported by King Robb of the North.


I don't think that was Gilly's baby...I think it was just another one that had been born, just so we could see what he does with his infant sons. I don't remember him getting knocked in the head....and they haven't introduced Stannis' daughter and her crazy companion yet either! still enjoying the show however!! :o)


Unless I misunderstood what Melisandre was saying, Shireen doesn't exist. Which means that any expectation that she had an important part to play later is false. I really liked the scene with Stannis and Mel, it shows that he isn't as honorable as he pretends. Also, I had no issue with Yara's changes - I like the fact that Balon respects and supports her. It doesn't change anything, but makes her future actions seem even more legitimate.


>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. Theon's poor character is established quite firmly in the book by his behavior with women.. on the ship with the Captain's daughter, and with his own sister. Was that Theon in Season 1 who requested a parting shot from the barmaid leaving town on a hay cart? Well, it was Theon for sure in season one who was so anxious to kill the wolfpups and who fired a risky shot when Bran was attacked. He experienced a sad, frightening, unloved childhood for sure... his adult character is cocky, vain, and ultimately murderous. I wouldn't want to meet him.


I was also surprised when Arya revealed her true identity. It was too soon for me, but perhaps HBO is doing this because it has shortened the details of her journey so severely. I may be remembering this wrong, but why does Theon act like he's at his father's to get him to fight for Robb? I recall that he always planned to further his own position as heir to Balon & turn against Robb; that was why Catlyn was against Robb sending him in the first place. As for Stannis & Melisandre -- I appreciate that the viewer is supposed to get her hold over him, but not only is his wife not sick, she is the one who brought the Red Woman into this in the first place! And I don't recall Stannis bring all that son-obsessed, either -- not to mention that any child with Melisandre would be a bastard, & could not be heir anyway. I also think Danerys is being short-changed so far -- but I have hopes that this will change. (My husband has not read the books, & I am driving him crazy when we watch the show, & I point out all the differences! He's very happy that I've founfd this board!)


What was different was the sex scene with Melisandre and Stannis. However, it is rumored in the novel that they had a sexual relationship. I believe we will see the reasons for the scene by episode 4 or 5.


And Arya and Yara don't sound ANYTHING alike? They're two main characters. Sorry, I won't think of Asha as anyone but Asha. She's too important to the story to be changing her name. They didn't change Bran and Bronn for goodness sakes.


Why in the world did they kill off Rakharo!? I've only read books 1 and 2, so I don't know how important his role is, but killing him off seemed unnecessary.


Azor Ahai is correct. Balon Greyjoy's daughter ASHA had her name changed to YARA to avoid confusion with OSHA, the wildling woman who is with Bran in Winterfell.