While we’re on the subject of characters being changed, one of the biggest examples of character assassination is Robert’s brother Stannis Baratheon. A rather cold and stoic man, Stannis is often overlooked because of the achievements and charisma of his older brother and not very well liked because of his personality, but is still a fairly respected military commander who has a strict but fair sense of duty and justice.
With some exceptions, Stannis is portrayed this way in the second and third seasons of the show, but it starts to divert a bit as the series goes on, especially in the fifth season. One of Stannis’ most notable qualities is his devotion to his daughter, Shireen. Despite her being struck with a disease called greyscale, Stannis remains a loving father to Shireen and is gravely insulted whenever a comment is made about her appearance. His relationship with Shireen is very much like this in the show – up until the fifth season where a huge departure is made from the books.
Desperate for a victory against the Boltons, Stannis allows the priestess Melisandre to burn Shireen alive as a sacrifice for the upcoming battle, one that proves to backfire tremendously for Stannis as hundreds of bannermen and sellswords desert him and his wife commits suicide due to the act. This does not happen in the books. Stannis remains lovingly devoted to Shireen, enough so that in a preview chapter for Winds of Winter Stannis’ final command to one of his men is that should he fall in battle, the army is to continue the war with the goal of placing Shireen on the Iron Throne. Credit is due to Stephen Dillane for delivering a great performance throughout the series, but the characterization of Stannis went from being okay to completely off by Stannis’ death.
A Secret Targaryen
The one event that instigated much of Game of Thrones’ backstory wasn’t just Robert’s victory in his rebellion, but the murder of Daenerys’ nephews and nieces, specifically baby Aegon. The show hasn’t really gone into too much depth of the other Targaryen children slaughtered by The Mountain and Lannister men, but their deaths heavily impact the books. It was quite a reveal, then, that one of them might still be alive.
During Tyrion’s journey to Mereen in A Dance With Dragons, he’s not actually travelling with Varys but a small company of men led by a sellsword who has a young child. It doesn’t take Tyrion long, however, to discover the sellsword is actually an old friend and ally of Daenerys’ deceased brother Rhaegar and the boy is a very much alive Aegon who was spirited away and switched with another baby before the Lannisters could sack King’s Landing.
The truth of this discovery is still in question as there hasn’t yet been definitive proof the boy is actually Aegon Targaryen. It could simply be a ploy by Varys and his cohorts to sow more confusion and conflict in Westeros by placing a puppet king on the throne or Aegon could actually be a member of the Blackfyre family, a bastard line of Targaryens that believed they had a claim to the Throne. It remains to be seen if Aegon is truly who he says he is, but his inclusion in the books just shows how much Varys has been planning behind the scenes and how precarious the situation in Westeros is about to become in the final two books as he openly declares himself and begins a small invaison.
Perhaps the biggest change to the series was the exclusion of a notable character – or rather the return of one. The Red Wedding saw a number of characters slaughtered, notably Robb Stark and his mother Catelyn, but the final pages of A Storm of Swords revealed Catelyn Stark had been revived through the same ritual that has brought Beric Dondarrion back from the dead so many times.
With her throat slashed and corpse-like appearance, Catelyn has become Lady Stoneheart and is now the leader of the Brotherhood Without Banners, but whereas the Brotherhood fought for the commonfolk under Dondarrion, Stoneheart’s aim is purely vengeful. The Brotherhood now strikes at any Frey targets in retaliation for the Red Wedding and they have been doing a pretty good job at thinning the large family’s numbers, including killing Walder Frey’s grandson and heir as well as infiltrating Catelyn’s now Frey-controlled home Riverrun.
Unlike Catelyn, Stoneheart has no sympathy or compassion, a fact evident in her reunion with Brienne. While Stoneheart’s exclusion from the show made more room for other characters, both familiar and new it was a pretty big shame as her transformation would’ve been great to see, especially with Michelle Fairley’s acting. Her role in sowing chaos in the Riverlands would’ve added a lot to the show, particularly with the Brotherhood’s role as they vanished for a long while and showed up randomly when the story needed them to. It would also have given fans a much needed and nice look at Freys getting slaughtered.
Those are some of the biggest changes to the Game of Thrones series. Are there other elements you miss or are you fairly happy with what’s been added or removed? Let us know below or tweet us @FlickeringMyth…