I’d read somewhere that the showrunners for Game of Thrones were planning to diverge from George R.R. Martin’s books—getting away from the source material and GRRM’s plans for the novel series. Knowing this, I went into the fifth season of HBO’s Game of Thrones both dreading and anticipating David Benioff and D. B. Weiss’ changes.
The following will contain massive *SPOILERS* for the show and the novels if you’re not up to date.
Some Characters are Better Off Missing
The show wrote off a number of characters, making the plot less convoluted and saving themselves the trouble of so many named characters with lines. For the most part, a lot of these characters should be glad they went missing.
In both versions, Jeyne Poole is Sansa Stark’s best bud who goes with Sansa from Winterfell to King’s Landing where both their fathers are murdered. Good times. In the show, however, that’s where Jeyne’s journey ends; she vanishes after the first season, which is probably for the best.
In the novels, after her father’s death, Jeyne is taken to the Boltons as “Arya Stark” and forced to marry Ramsay Bolton who does horrible things to her. In the show, the role of being Ramsay’s unlucky bride is taken by Sansa who suffers a similar fate as novel-Jeyne before escaping with Theon Greyjoy (in the book, Theon and Jeyne survives their jump—so it’s probably safe to assume Sansa survives the jump on the show).
There are other characters in the books who aren’t included in the show, like Ser Balon Swann and Ser Arys Oakheart. Their roles in the retrieval and protection of Myrcella Baratheon are taken by Jaime Lannister and Bronn (which is drastically different), sparing Oakheart the gruesome death he suffers in the novels.
Other characters are also written off, like Osney Kettleblack. However, Osney’s a jerk in the books (he’s hired by Cersei to accuse Margaery of certain religious crimes to get her prosecuted by the religious fanatics), which apparently means I don’t care about him.
In the novel, at or around the siege of Winterfell by Stannis’ forces, I had developed some sympathy and respect for the characters of Melisandre and Stannis (particularly Melisandre if I’m remembering a certain scene correctly which demonstrates she isn’t as callous as she initially seems). However, the show changes the story by having the two sacrifice Shireen to the stupid Lord of Light which significantly altered my perception of the these characters. As a result, the death of Stannis on the show at the hands of Brienne comes as a rather welcome event.
Myrcella gets killed in the show right when her character is starting to get fleshed out; she’s untouched in the novels. Myrcella’s death scene rebuilds some sympathy for Jaime Lannister after the show, in previous seasons, stripped him of a few redeeming acts from the novels and had him murder his own cousin and rape his sister. Neither of these things happened in the novels. Having Jaime’s daughter acknowledge and accept him as her father only to have her die before his eyes—smart move, TV people.
The best change the HBO series has made with character deaths, hands down, is allowing Arya to kill Meryn Trant. They also made him sort of a sadistic pedophile to stack some additional audience-hate on him before he gets his comeuppance. This is definitely a welcome deviation from the source material. In the books, Arya’s time at the House of Black and White isn’t very exciting or satisfying; it’s just more buildup for the readers to anticipate awesome things to come.
Rebirths Past, Present and Still to Come
In the books, a number of characters have come back from death. I’m thinking Jon Snow might be next. First, let’s go through other characters who have been revived.
1. Beric Dondarrion suffers mortal wounds several times and is repeatedly brought back to life by Thoros of Myr, a red priest. This is largely left intact in the show.
2. In the novels, Catelyn Stark is brought back to life, with Beric exchanging his life for hers. This hasn’t happened in the show. It can still happen. I’m thinking it depends on which actor is cheaper for HBO keep around. Without doing a bunch of Google searches on other fan theories, I’m thinking the show will try to reunite Gendry with the brotherhood without banners (I don’t think he ever leaves them in the novels) and wrap up that subplot with some semblance of whatever GRRM has planned.
3. Coldhands is an undead guy with, you know, cold hands. Seeing as how he’s dressed in Night’s Watch clothing and helps out Bran, my guess from reading the novels is that he is an undead Benjen Stark. Whatever brought him back to life seems related to the White Walkers and their army of undead; without a more careful reading, that’s as far as my theories go. I don’t think Coldhands is included in the TV show, but my imagination while reading the books and the images from the show have blurred into one giant mass so I’m not entirely sure what’s what.
4. The Mountain is revived in a sort of Frankenstein way by Qyburn.
The above leads me to believe that Jon Snow is next in line to be brought back to life.
Thoros resurrected Beric as a red priest, apparently with the power of the Lord of Light. Seeing as how Melisandre is nearby and a red priestess who worships that same god, it’s possible she’ll bring Jon back to his feet. Also considering how Stannis was supposed to be her champion of light who wields a sword of fire—and that guy’s dead, she’ll probably want to find a replacement.
Alternatively, Jon may be made undead like Coldhands. That’d be pretty bad ass and would go along nicely with the name of the book series, A Song of Ice and Fire; Jon Snow with his ice along with Daenerys Targaryen and her fire. Similarly, if Jon gets to be the champion of light, both he and Daenerys could have fire at their backs while they fight against the ice-inclined White Walkers.
Or maybe he’s just flat-out dead or survives the multiple stab wounds by conventional methods (lots of bandaging after his assailants happen to repeatedly miss his vital organs).
He probably won’t be revived a la Qyburn; no one wants to see Frankenstein-Jon Snow.