Beware, spoilers abound.
It has now come to the part in the Game of Thrones where the show is not so much a re-make of the books, as it is its own being. Season 4 of Game of Thrones is as if the original story were held up to a fun house mirror that distorts the source material almost beyond recognition.
However, that is hardly a criticism. I believe the 4th and 5th Song of Ice and Fire books suffer seriously from a case of not-editing. I’m not sure what happened, but it seems as if George RR Martin decided that each word from his proverbial ass is a golden nugget of truth worthy of being immortalized forever. I’m assuming his editor likes to eat those nuggets, or perhaps collects them- or maybe GRRM fired his editing staff long ago.
But for whatever reason, A Feast for Crows is painful to read in places. It is agonizingly slow. So, to have a chance to tighten the story and improve the action and flow, like the writers get to do in Game of Thrones, is a gift.
GoT Season 4 Plot Progression
Comparing the plot is rather difficult, since A Feast for Crows basically has none. That is why, for Season 4, the writers had to combine elements of book four and five. Mainly this had to happen because A Feast for Crows and a Dance with Dragons are two parts of the same books. GRRM decided to carry the events of the minor characters to completion in book 4 and the major characters in book 5. However, many of the plot lines are quite similar. Aria, for example, follows more or less the same events in the book. The same goes for Sansa and Tyrion. The biggest plot changes that I noticed were from the Nights Watch Group and Bran’s adventures. There was also a lot less Dorne activity, which I was sad about, because I actually enjoyed reading about Dorne, surprisingly enough.
Season 4 Setting and Feel
HBO always does an amazing job of capturing the feel and setting of Westeros, just like I would imagine it. I would expect a lot of the setting wins come from the fact that GRRM is heavily involved with production.
Biggest Complaints of GoT Season 4
I had a few issues with this season of Game of Thrones. Namely:
The rape scene. There is some discussion that although the scene doesn’t appear like rape in the books, it might actually have been from Cersei’s prospective. But rape aside, which I expect from this universe, is the fact that they did it in front of their dead kid’s body. That would never happen. Full stop.
Gilly. I absolutely hate her in the show. I didn’t understand the point of her adventure to the whorehouse where the Wildlings attack. I’m guessing they wanted to add a personal prospective to the attacks, but I found it needless and boring. I also wasn’t sure what the show was trying to say by having the woman who burped a lot get murdered so quickly. Is HBO claiming that any woman who doesn’t act like a “lady” doesn’t deserve to be alive? I feel like HBO could do better at not alienating 43 percent of their viewers by excluding scenes like this one, the rape scene, and prostitute selection scene from the first episode. Perhaps they would even gain more female viewers.
Bran’s story. It was so boring this season. I know that is not entirely HBO’s fault, since his journey is boring, but whatever. Snoozefest. And livening it up with fake skeletons that don’t exist (someone correct me if I’m wrong), was not enough.
Oberyn. He seemed incredibly shallow throughout the entire season. I wish his character had a little more to it than just “I kind of want to avenge my sister, but really, all I just want is sex with whatever is handy.”
Jon Snow. I feel like he went nowhere this season. I guess they are saving his transformation for next season, but I wish he had been able to do more this year. In the book, Jon is one of my favorite characters, but in the show, he is starting to annoy me with his pansy ways.
And let’s not forget, the completely different actor who is playing Daario Naharis now! I thought I disliked the last guy in the role, but it turns out, I liked him a lot better for this role than the new guy. The new guy looks too much like all the Stark boys. Nothing exotic about him at all.
I was sad not to see Asha (Yara in the show) much this season. Her story line was one of my favorites in A Feast for Crows. Maybe we’ll see more of her next year. Until then, console yourself with by throwing a Game of Thrones-themed party.
The Best Parts of GoT Season 4
I liked that Game of Thrones season 4 followed Tyrion’s story more or less correctly. I was rather afraid that they were going to change the ending completely and not have him murder his dad. But they didn’t, so I was cool.
I also really like how Sansa and Littlefinger are playing out (aside from the show pushing them together romantically more than I would like to see, but at least, she’s the ripe old age of what, 15-16 now?). Their story is one I am looking forward to a great deal.
I was glad to see Shae die. I don’t remember if she dies in the books, but I found her accent annoying, so I’m fine with it either way.
Theon’s story was well done. I’m excited to see where it will lead next year.
Dany is a stronger character in the show, I believe. They have completely ignored her “three temptations” story line, which I don’t like, because she appears to be treading water for no purpose; but she also has fewer slip-ups. Show Daenerys is cool as a cucumber while maintaining a somewhat innocent facade, which is sorely needed in a show full of vagrants and morally bankrupt characters.
Season 4 was well done all around, and except for a few minor issues, I like where it is going. I do think I have to say that I am definitely leaning more toward liking the show more than the books. It is easier to find what the true story is, which often is difficult to discover when wading through thousands of pages of unrelated-feeling content in the books.
Should you read the book? Not necessary unless you really want to read every intimate detail about every character (and a lot of seemingly unnecessary characters) down to their daily bathroom routine.
Did you love season 4 hate it? Share your highs and lows with me!