Game of Thrones: A Novel Approach to "The Old Gods and the New"

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Sorry, TV Fanatics. This one has taken me awhile.

For the duration of season two, I've been penning what we so wittily have titled A Novel Approach to Game of Thrones, reviews of each episode written from the point of view of a George R.R. Martin fan.

But "The Old Gods and the New" was a challenge - because so much deviated from the literature. I've collected my thoughts on it, however, and welcome all feedback to the following book-based review.

GoT Novel Approach

The fall of Winterfell
I know everyone thought it was no big deal when I wondered where Meera and Jojen were and what it would mean to the remainder of the season, but now I have to bring it up again. Theon has named himself Prince and taken over Winterfell. He's a useless sod and learned nothing of the ways of being a Stark, especially the honor of taking a man's life with your own hand when you sentence him to death, so don't let the screenwriters kid you into thinking him in the least bit honorable. He's not.

He's nothing but a child trying to please his daddy and be a better man than his sister. Woo hoo! He took a castle from a nine-year old paraplegic who rides the back of a dual syllabic stable boy. Quite the feat there. He should be proud.

Back to the missing Meera and Jojen: With them and Hodor, Bran escaped Winterfell and Theon even used some other kid to "prove" Bran was dead. Osha spirited Rickon away so Bran's story wasn't hindered by the toddler. Now what? Will Rickon die? Will Bran's story become even further marginalized by remaining at Winterfell or being forced to escape with a toddler in tow? I cannot come up with a good scenario for this to play out in which we get to see Bran and Summer become one, which is one of the grooviest parts of novels.

Sad Robb Stark

The (terrible) life of Sansa
I thought the scene when Joffrey humiliated Sansa in the castle a few weeks ago was cut far too short. In my ignorance, I imagined it was because they were afraid to put the actress through too much. Surprise!

It's because they wanted to turn a simple assault scene into something far worse, a near rape. Frankly, I think having the misdeed done to her by Joffery had more impact overall, and they would have been fine to leave the two scenes as they were. To have your soon-to-be husband tearing your bodice and exposing you to your people is worse than a rape by strangers, don't you think?

What will become of Arya and Tywin?
So this nice little bond has formed between Arya and Tywin. Where can it possibly be heading? Will she slip up and leak information to him revealing her identity? She seems too smart for that. For the screenwriters to go to all this trouble to invest into this relationship it has to be leading to something big, right?

Will she be the ultimate hostage for Jaime's release? Maybe Arya will plunge a dagger into Tywin's back forever changing the landscape of Westeros. Would it really be any different than some of the other changes we've seen?

Dany loses....everybody?
Which brings me to the lovelies at Qarth who relieved Dany of her entire entourage. Except Jorah. Where the hell was Jorah? And what happened to the House of the Undying? Did they decide to skip the visions and wizardry entirely for the House of the Dead? Losing her dragons? No way.

Daenerys has looked like a stumbling fool this entire season, whereas in the novels she always had her people in her thoughts first. Nothing was done without forethought and the end game in mind, to gain her rightful place on the Iron Throne as was her birthright. Granted, she was tricked by sorcery but was saved by Drogon. Seems that option is out. Are they planning on kidnapping her? Who knows? None of us who read the books, that's for certain.

* As always, editor-in-chief Matt Richenthal has also written a Game of Thrones review for this episode. Read it now, but please reserve all book-related comments for this space.

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

Jess gannon

No I don't think. Getting raped by a stranger would be far worse than having your bodice ripped off by you future husband infront of people!!!!


Really mrs. Pavlica? Since when is humilation worse than rape? Even if it is just fiction I think you actually crossed a line there by writing that. If it took you so long to write this review you might have thought about that sentence a little more before sending it in.


(since this is a "compare to the books" article, aren't spoilers a given?) @KlangKlang I agree that delaying the Reeds' introduction was probably for the best. It'll be interesting to see if they introduce them this season or wait until next. Given we have 3 episodes left I expect not till next season, but I could see a small chance of them being introduced in some dramatic way to help Bran and Co. escape Winterfell. But I more expect them to be introduced early next season. It would give Bran's story a little more drama at a point in which is starts to slow down and it will allow next season's arc to be learning about the "green dreams", etc.


Being stripped in public is worse than getting violently raped in secret? Not that I'd know from experience, but that's a pretty bold claim. Ser Jorah was presumably finding a ship for said entourage like he promised to last week. I'll be honest, I come to this particular series of reviews to read the comments section. Lots of balanced and practical opinions of the show as well as an overall respect for the challenges presented by an adaptation. Logistics are a biznatch and modern attention spans are shot to hell. Even if this weren't the case, it wouldn't be smart to bring in the Reeds this season. I'm just glad what we do get is so well-produced. If we don't run into the Reeds next season, though, I will cry foul.


I agree with those who say that fans of the books need to give the show some flexibility. I've read all 5 books (post show season 1) and I think by and large the show is doing a better job at telling the story than the books did. Unlike a sprawling novel (or series of novels) the show has to develop solid arcs for the characters to move through in a season. To me Danny is a spoiled/entitled brat/queen almost all the time past book 1. And her story lacks any proper dramatic tension, especially in book 2. The whole arc of Danny (in both books and show) is her evolution from girl to proper queen and the show is doing a good job of starting her off by her "acting like a queen" but not really BEING one. The dragons being stolen also makes much more sense both from the fact that, duh, why didn't anyone try to steal them in the book and it gives her a good reason to go to the House of the Undying (what was her reason in the book???) Centering Arya's on her interactions with Tywin is a brilliant as well.


FYI I've read first 3 books...
The change to Dany was frankly necessary to make her inclusion in season 2 worth it... after having the best story in book 1 her story is boring and goes nowhere in book 2. IN the book there is no character progression, she goes from wandering the desert to wandering Qarth to getting on a boat. If they weren't splitting book 3 into two seasons I would have suggested skipping Qarth altogether and having her season 2 story be first half of book three culminating in the Unsullied takeover. As it is the stolen dragons seem to be a better reason to get her into the House of Undying, compared to the book's reason.. temptation? curiosity? And retrieving her dragons would be a better endgame for surviving the mental maze, as compared to earning a vague prophecy. The dragons had no interesting contribution to book 2, and do not underestimate their importance to viewership... after buying season 1 Blu-ray, I'm convinced the only reason my wife agreed to subscribe to HBO was to see what happens with the baby dragons. There are more people like her out there. Since Rickon hasn't done anything up through book 3 Osha could likely stand in for Jojen and Meera without changing story. If his story starts picking up in book 4 the show has 3 seasons to get him where he needs to be. Think how many characters non-readers have to remember already, Meera and Jojen would be overkill I think. Arya/Tywin is just a way to get Tywin some season 2 screen time and will go nowhere. I'm guessing he leaves soon and story will be intact. The idea that Arya would stab him... no way. I can't see any way that they would change Tywin's fate in book 3, it's too good a scene to throw away and have Arya steal a moment from Tyrion. Besides, Twyin is too central to the book 3 story to do away with now, his relationship with both sons still has many good scenes.


I was hoping that it would be the house of the Undying. But I can't shake the fact that the guy who stole the dragons looks exactly like Sir Baristen is described in the book when he is described as the "old man".
A thought on the Jon part. I believ he will let her go before he gets back to the camp. And she will be the reason why Mance knows they are on the cliff. Remember he has to meet up and get seperated with Qhorin so that he can kill him to join Mance.
Also the Sansa part with the hound someone mentioned that he his being to simpathetic. I reread the part with the riot in the book and they used the EXACT same lines in the book as in the show, for the hound.
As for the Meera and Jojen thing I am hoping they meet up with them later because they are the most important part of Bran's story, especially in book 5 even though he only has like 2 chapters :(


So because of various reasons (budget, hiring actors, contracts) the characters are forced to be weaker then their counterparts in the books? Danerys: A spoiled child instead of a thinking independent woman, which was weird since she sounded like Viserys in season 1. Jon: He was merciful and let Ygritte go(not escaping and chasing). And Halfhand let Jon decide because it was a personality test. My point the characters are not that deep like they were in the books. Arya and Tywin: I don't think this will mean anything for the duo. Tywin will leave the castle to attack the Riverlands to stop Robb from attacking his lands, leaving Arya behind so Bolton can come and take it later.


I am confused. Wasn't Lord Bolton the lord of Harrenhall when Arya was there, treating Lord Bolton's boils?


This contains spoilers for people who haven't read through the first 3 books already: I don't think the story is getting so far away from the books that it can't stay close in the future. A lot of people have suggested that Bran and Rickon will escape to The Neck or wherever the Reeds happen to be, then link up with the Reeds at that time (next season). That seems perfectly reasonable. You can only cram so many characters into one season. I think they're making the Hound too sympathetic a character. He almost seems civil, something that doesn't happen until later. I also think Arya is having an easier life at Harrenhal than in the books where she was beaten a lot. It's important in Arya's development into someone who has less respect for life than a 10 year old ever should. But it's not meant to be a 100% accurate reproduction of the books. Take it or leave it.

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Game of Thrones Quotes

Tyrion: Let me give you some advice bastard. Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.
Jon: What the hell do you know about being a bastard?
Tyrion: All dwarfs are bastards in their father's eyes.

I will hurt you for this. A day will come when you think you are safe and happy, and your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth. And you will know the debt is paid.

Tyrion Lannister