This question is inspired by If I have seen the TV show Games of Thrones, is it worth it to read the books?.

I am about to pick up all of the currently written Song of Ice and Fire books. I have seen every episode of the show so far and am wondering how reading the books (up to (and probably ahead of) where the show is) will affect the general enjoyability of the show.

There were several jaw-dropping moments in the show for me and I was really interested in reading the books, but will doing so make those jaw-dropping surprise moments less enjoyable when I see them in the show?

  • 2
    if you read ahead, you can gain enjoyment from overwhelming smugness as you watch your friends get attached to the next main character to eat it. – KutuluMike Apr 8 '14 at 21:38
  • 1
    I'm not going to VTC. Too good of a question. While it is somewhat opinion-based, the opinions will be quasi-expert opinions, and not just fan circlejerking. Please refrain from VTC so that this one has a chance to be answered. – John O Apr 8 '14 at 21:50
  • 1
    @SystemDown They'd be answers based on experience, rather than someone saying "Wolverine is way cooler than Batman!". While there should still be some variation person to person, assuming we enjoy these stories in (mostly) the same way, then someone who has already done this can answer and have that answer be applicable to other people. – John O Apr 8 '14 at 22:47
  • 1
    Generally speaking, in the cases where I have read the book first and seen the adaptation afterwards, I have been disappointed far more often than not. Notable examples being Silence of the lambs and Peter Jackson's Lord of the Ring movies. So far, the TV-show is doing great: They are cutting lots of material, of course, and changing some things, but they are making really good decisions about this, and staying very true to the original. As for myself, I see the books as the meal, and the TV-show as a treat. As good at the TV-show is, the books are 10 times better (at least). – TLP Apr 8 '14 at 22:58
  • 2
    @RobertF That's gotta be the worst advice I've ever heard. There is no way you can have read the books. You should do that. – TLP Apr 9 '14 at 1:45

Just to supply different point of view:

No it does not. In my experience as someone who has read and enjoyed the books long before the TV show was even a rumor, the TV show is much more enjoyable than if I had never read the books. Sure there is always disappiontment when something doesn't match up with the books (or how I personally envisioned the books), but in my experience that feeling is dwarfed by the utter exhilaration when the producers get it right. A few notable examples:

  • Most of the casting
  • The birth of the dragons and other CGI moments
  • The architecture (the Wall and Harrenhal in particular)
  • The battle of the Blackwater (green explosions FTW!)
| improve this answer | |
  • I got shivers when Jon and Sam swore their NW oath before the heart trees in the haunted forest. :) – TLP Apr 8 '14 at 22:51
  • 1
    +1 for "Most of the casting". Let me second that! The casting is absolutely phenomenal. Very, very, very few exceptions. – landroni Apr 9 '14 at 9:25
  • "who has read and enjoyed the books long before the TV show was even a rumor" Maybe my problem was that I started reading the books after the 1st season and haven't yet finished the 5th book (it got boring). Maybe if I had read the books entirely before the 1st season, my perceptions would have been different then. – landroni Apr 9 '14 at 9:25

Yes, very much. Reading ahead makes you always check whether the show follows the books closely enough. And as they invariably don't, you're in for much disappointment. All in all reading ahead has robbed, at least in my experience, the TV series of their charm.

| improve this answer | |
  • George RR Martin has been closely involved with the series as an executive producer, and he has written the screenplays for some of the episodes. Basically the show has his stamp of approval. If you are unhappy the book and show don't match "closely enough" then you are entitled to your opinion, but evidently GRRM himself disagrees. – Royal Canadian Bandit Apr 9 '14 at 8:36
  • Well.. In my own subjective and biased view Martin's books themselves (which I thoroughly enjoyed!!) are often, well, not much more than a Hollywood script. The author often uses block-buster like techniques to create.. suspense, in writing. So when you're watching the series and realize how much he had to diverge from the original script when actually putting the things on camera, it is naturally disappointing. It is also an issue when you're looking forward to the TV series to get more details on what has happened in the book, as at times the series describes better the events than the book. – landroni Apr 9 '14 at 9:22
  • Only if you believe any deviation from the book is wrong. What works on the page may not work on film, and vice versa. Every adaptation makes changes, including classic films like The Godfather. Trivial example: In the book, when King Robert meets Ned at Winterfell, Robert says he hasn't changed a bit. In the show, he says he's gotten fat. This works (and is funny) because we can see that Sean Bean is a little chunkier than he once was. If you have a problem with that it's your choice, but personally I am happy to treat the show as a different interpretation of the same basic story. – Royal Canadian Bandit Apr 9 '14 at 9:50

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.