June 2, 2015
George R.R. Martin weighs in on missing Game of Thrones characters
by Nick Davies
WARNING: The below contains spoilers about George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books and the HBO series Game of Thrones. Read no further if you wish to remain unsullied.
When Game of Thrones concluded its fourth season last summer, much ado was made of the omission of Lady Stoneheart, a character who packed a dramatic punch at the conclusion of A Storm of Swords, George R.R. Martin’s third book in the series on which the show is based. Many fans of the books, who had been anticipating the big reveal of Catelyn Stark as a reanimated corpse bent on revenge, raised a ruckus over the deviation from the source material. Now, James Hibberd writes for Entertainment Weekly, Martin has spoken out about which five characters from his books he wishes could have been included in the TV series.
Lady Stoneheart is, in fact, one of the five that the author singles out. Referencing the return of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings, he argues that while some people might disagree with him, “Lady Stoneheart does have a role in the books. Whether it’s sufficient or interesting enough… I think it is, or I wouldn’t have put her in. One of the things I wanted to show with her is that the death she suffered changes you.” With all due respect to Martin, his perspective on what is essential is suspect, given that he initially conceived of A Song of Ice and Fire as a trilogy and has since expanded it to seven books, with lengthy digressions that can feel largely pointless. I’m sure he wouldn’t agree, but—for example—I would suggest skipping the chapters about the kingsmoot on the Iron Islands in A Feast for Crows entirely.
The others he mentions include Willas and Garlan Tyrell, older brothers to Loras Tyrell, who has played a prominent role on the show; and Strong Belwas, a eunuch warrior who throws his support behind Daenerys Targaryen. “I understand why he was cut,” he says, “but I kind of miss him.”
The fifth character whom Martin cites is Jeyne Poole: “She’s a minor character in the first book, then vanishes and then—boom—there she is in the fifth book in a major way.” Her story has been given over to Sansa Stark, which on the one hand does away with the latter’s meandering journey in A Feast for Crows, which takes her from a castle all the way to one of the castle’s gates. On the other hand, the scenes that now involve Sansa have been contentious among the viewing audience to say the least, even leading the website The Mary Sue to stop covering the show entirely.
In fairness to Martin, he does concede that he understands why showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have had to drop or adjust story lines and characters for the HBO series. “My books have a cast of thousands,” he states, “so for practical reasons they’ve had to cut or combine many characters… I’ve said from the start I wish we had more hours, but [Benioff and Weiss] work 24/7, 12 months a year.”
Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.