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What are the differences between the Game of Thrones TV series and the book?

I recently started watching the Game of Thrones TV Series and enjoyed it very much. Only later did I find out that it was based on a series of books, which is good news, since I really enjoy reading. I already watched the complete first season, and am halfway through the second. What I would like to know is if there are major plot differences between the series and the books, or if, having seen the first season, I should skip the first book or something. Or if, even though there are not many differences, the book is still worth reading because it is more intense and adds more to the plot or something like this (I'm guessing this should be the right choice).

Thank you

P.S.: Don't get me wrong, I know books are almost always much better than TV Series or Movies (even though some may be very good adaptations). I just want to know the opinion of people who have both read and watched the Series.

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    Series is suprisingly loyal. Books add a lot of background and detail (and are very well written too). This is a duplicate. – Ilari Kajaste May 16 '12 at 21:33
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    The show is good but will never compare. The books are vast and it's just not feasible to do everything in a TV show, given the production costs and time constraints involved. They've changed the order of some events, completely removed characters, explicitly stated/shown things that are implied, etc. You'll get a much more complete experience from the books, so read them and enjoy the story as it was meant to be told. – Anthony Grist May 16 '12 at 22:27
  • Sorry, but I don't know how this question can be answered in a way that works for this site. The series is on-going, and may very well have multiple seasons. – Justin C May 16 '12 at 23:49
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    @JustinC Each season currently corresponds to a book. A question asked at the end of each season that asks for the differences specifically between that season and the book it corresponds to would probably be more suitable, since that information is a. known at the time the question is asked and b. not going to change. – Anthony Grist May 17 '12 at 9:16
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    @Anthony - I completely agree, if this question is asked at the end of each episode and focused specifically regarding that episode I would not have an issue with it. – Justin C May 17 '12 at 17:05

I have read the first 4 books a few years ago. After watching the first season (and before the second), I re-read the first 2 books. In the first season they worked hard to keep the series as close as possible to the books. In the 2nd season, I feel that they deviated too much from the books, and altered some of the events, so the story is different in some areas. I am not talking about short-cuts that are a necessity when moving from a book to a TV series, but of more profound changes.

Just to name a few:

In the books Aria never meets Tywin Lannister, and so does Littlefinger. John Snow's story is different from what is shown in the series. Osha doesn't tempt a sleep with Theon in the books. The whole scene with Joffery's entourage being attacked after seeing off Marcella, is different, and specifically Sansa Stark doesn't undergo an attempted rape.

In my eyes these changes (and others) are significant and alter the story and our understanding of the characters. It seems that they've made the series much more sexual (not that the books are not) to appeal to the audience.

In short, you can't skip the books if you want to get the whole story and all aspects of it (especially if you like reading).

  • thank you! it's the kind of answer I was looking for! – JNat May 17 '12 at 23:37

I watched the first season of Game of Thrones then started with the 2nd book and finished all the books without any problem. From what I can tell, the first season follows the first book almost exactly.

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    From questions that have been asked here, it sounds as if S2 deviates a lot more from A Clash of Kings, e.g. Tywin Lannister talking to Arya. – Ward - Reinstate Monica May 17 '12 at 4:23

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