(WARNING: Giant plot SPOILERS for the first episode of 'Game of Thrones' Season 6 — and the most recently published novel — lie below. Proceed with whatever level of caution the fires of R'hllor tell you is wise.)
Now, with Game of Thrones' sixth season having now firmly overshot the source material, fans of George R.R. Martin's novels find themselves in much the same position as those who haven't read a single page. For all that we can still assume that certain things will happen (death, fire, gratuitous nudity), we can no longer rely upon textual knowledge to inform us in our predictions for the show's future. Instead, we're forced to speculate, to guess, and to ponder — not least because...
Game Of Thrones Season 6 Sure Has Changed A Lot From The Books
Or rather, it has already substantially added to the long list of ways in which the show has diverged hugely from its source material. Indeed, while some elements of the plot (Daenerys's interaction with the Dothraki, Jon Snow's "death," Arya's blindness) at least loosely mirror what the books seem to have planned, other sections of the show are now entirely different to what readers of the novels have previously read.
Below, then, are three of the biggest changes that Season 6 has already made.
(Note: This is where those aforementioned GIANT PLOT SPOILERS really start to kick in.)
3. Things Sure Have Changed Down In Dorne
The on-screen Dorne has long been very different to the one we saw in the novels (there were a whole lot more characters, for one thing, and even more intrigue and scheming), but Season 6 has already diverged substantially from the books' take on the southern realm.
Where before the biggest change seemed to be the addition of a Jaime and Bronn road-trip (the pair don't visit Dorne in the books), the murders of Prince Doran, Areo Hotah, and Trystane in Episode 1 look set to change things even more dramatically. After all, in the novels, Prince Doran was still scheming to team up with Daenerys last we saw him, and Ellaria Sand had largely withdrawn from the machinations of public life.
Of course, things have already changed enough down in Dorne that we could be seeing a mirroring of an entirely separate plot line (and of betrayal by entirely different characters), but in the meantime, it sure does seem like a major divergence. Similarly...
2. Davos Has Gone Down A Very Different Path
Now, while TV Davos now finds himself enmeshed in the machinations of the Night's Watch — and potentially involved in the ultimate fate of Jon Snow — his novel counterpart has taken a very different path.
Having been parted from Stannis far earlier than in the show, Davos soon found himself imprisoned by a Northern nobleman. There, he wound up a pawn in a plot to have a hostage returned, having his death faked in the process. Most intriguingly though, last we heard from Davos he had also been entrusted with a mission to rescue Rickon Stark from a forbidding island.
Whether any of that comes up during the course of Season 6 remains to be seen, of course (and I've tried to keep things relatively vague here just in case), but as of right now, it sure does seem that Davos is set to walk a very different path. Speaking of which...
1. Brienne's Fate Seems To Have Changed Completely
Now, this one relies on a potentially huge SPOILER for Season 6, should a certain event still take place, so you'll have to forgive the SPOILER-protection below. Bear in mind before clicking that — if you haven't read the novels — SPOILERS could theoretically follow:
In novels, Catelyn Stark returns to something resembling life as the Lannister and Frey-hunting Lady Stoneheart, and begins to take revenge on those who killed her family. With Brienne and Pod appearing to work for the Lannisters, they find themselves captured, and are apparently executed. Later, though, Brienne reappears, recruiting Jaime to help her rescue Sansa. With Sansa still safe in the Vale, however, it seems that Brienne may have been recruited by Lady Stoneheart, and that Jaime is walking into a trap.
Now, with virtually none of that possible at this juncture in the series, it seems likely that Brienne's original plot line (along with Sansa's and Jaime's) has been fundamentally altered for the television version — or at least dramatically delayed.
What do you think, though?