ByJon Negroni, writer at
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Jon Negroni

Hey Game of Thrones fans. I've missed you dearly.

As you can imagine, this post is filled to the crypts with SPOILERS, both in the show AND in the books. Like all of the books.

You've been warned, my lords and ladies.

Real quick, I'll be recapping every new Season 5 episode starting with "The Wars to Come," which premieres April 12. I've read the books and watched every episode of the show at least twice now, but I still miss things here and there. Be sure to correct me if I make a misstep.

Now before we jump into [Game of Thrones](movie:817617) Season 5, I thought it would be prudent to address some massive departures the show has made from the source material. Namely, the show has sort of been all over the place, doing many things that never actually happen in the books, or they do the same things with different characters.

I don't mind it, personally. Keep in mind that George R.R. Martin is executive producer on the show, so his voice is always consistently there (even though he really wants everyone to read the books first).

David Benioff and Dan Weiss simply have to make compromises because they have so many constraints, especially with their cast.

For example, many of the characters we never see from the books are replaced with characters we do know. Jaime Lannister will likely be filling in for Arys Oakheart in Dorne this season, as evidenced by the trailer. Even though...

Jaime should actually be taking on the Blackfish in the Riverlands.

Last season, Brienne of Tarth and Sandor Clegane faced off, which is definitely off-book, but it ended up being much more dramatic and climactic than what happened in the books, as well.

I've always slightly preferred the show to the books because the show is much more edited and constrained. Reading the books feels like perusing an encyclopedia, and while I do love all of the books (save for Feast for Crows to an extent), the show has always been just a little more satisfying for me.

Which brings us to why I've gathered you all here today. There are some characters who are still alive in the books that have long past died on the show, and for reasons I can only assume have to do with manufacturing drama for the show's stopping points that would be otherwise impossible.

Many characters die in the books, but GRRM can get away with it because there are far more characters in the books than on the show (which is a good thing for everyone).

So lets review some you should be aware of.

#1 Jojen Reed

I'll start with possibly the most important character they've killed off on the show prematurely. I won't get into detail, but suffice to say Jojen's death in the Season 4 finale, "The Children," is definitely off-book.

He's still alive through A Dance with Dragons (the fifth and most recent book), though I should point out that the Brandon Stark story won't be visited at all during the fifth season, and for good reason.

There's almost nowhere left for them to go before they cross into the sixth book, The Winds of Winter, which I suspect will be where Jojen finally meets his fate in the book canon. And that book's probably not coming out for another year.

#2 Jeyne Westerling

OK, this one needs some explanation, I know. Jeyne Westerling is actually Robb Stark's wife in the books instead of Talisa of Volantis. The show replaced Jeyne's character and Robb's romance story in order to create more drama and heartbreak for the Red Wedding.

Basically, GRRM hates us.

In the show, Robb's wife Talisa and their unborn child both die during the Red Wedding, but in the books, Jeyne Westerling is alive and protected by her mother, Sybell, who is actually on the side of the Lannisters.

Basically, book readers who may have thought Jeyne would actually avenge Robb's death and show up pregnant were foiled when the show completely wrote her out.

#3 Rakharo

You may remember Rakharo from Seasons 1 and 2 as Dany's personal Dothraki bodyguard. In the show, he was beheaded in Season 2 while they were wandering the Red Waste.

Strangely, he and many of the dead Dothraki from the show are still alive and helping Dany in Slaver's Bay, including many of Dany's handmaidens. If I added them to this list, we'd have way more than 20.

#4 Grenn

One of my favorite scenes from Season 4's "Watchers on the Wall" episode was Grenn's face-off with the giant, Mag the Mighty. If you recall, this was when Grenn led the crows in reciting their vows as Mag rushed toward them to push through the tunnel into Castle Black.

It was an important death for one of Jon's best friends at the wall, but it definitely didn't happen in the books. Instead, a character we don't see in the show, Donal, stops Mag the Mighty in the same way.

As for Grenn's role in the books, I doubt he'll last through the winter.

#5 Pyp

Another important crow from this episode, and one of the hardest deaths to watch, was killed despite surviving the books. In "Watchers on the Wall," Pyp is shot in the neck by Ygritte, which I assume was the show's way of making us less sad that she met her timely fate just a few minutes later at the hands of Olly.

Pyp will probably die in the background of the books, as he's been sent to another part of the wall and doesn't play much of a role anymore. But as far as the show goes, his watch has now ended.

#6-20 Pretty Much Everyone From Qarth

This was a huge surprise if you read the books and then watched the show. For some reason, the Qarth story for the show was drastically deadlier, and many key characters were killed onscreen.

These deaths includes the 13, most of Dany's Dothraki, as well as the warlock Pyat Pree, whom Dany burned with her dragons.

Book spoiler:

Xaro is also alive and actually visits Dany in Mereen during ADwD, but in the show, he's left to die in the vault (though he could still be alive somehow).

My best guess is that the show runners wanted us to perceive Dany as being more "alone" back in Season 2. Since we're not really in her head like we are in the books, we never get that sense of how fragile her journey is. At any one moment, her growing empire could tumble all around her, and killing everyone off in Qarth could be a clever foreshadowing for events that haven't even occurred yet in GRRM's story.

Or Dan Weiss and David Benioff just want Dany to be more ruthless and epic. I'm down with that too.


We're in the middle of Season 5 right now, but I feel compelled to add this next off-book death in case you're reading this into the future. Go no further if you are not caught up to episode 4 of season 5:

Barristan Selmy (or Barry the Bold) has recently been killed on the show, despite the fact that he is still alive through even pre-released chapters of Winds of Winter, the sixth book. His death is certainly one of the biggest surprises yet, possibly the most considering he's a POV character.

Reading the books and watching the show can be pretty frustrating, since both mediums spoil each other incessantly. Predictions I made while reading the books were completely foiled by these surprise deaths, and I'm sure this will happen again in Season 5.

Oh well, I'm still watching every episode.

Game of Thrones Season 5 will premiere April 12. Follow me here for your weekly episode recap.



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