Sometimes the book isn’t better: Game of Thrones, I’m talking to you

Have you read “Game of Thrones”? Don’t bother. Unless you like reading screenplays. The book is so clearly written to have been picked up for production that as I read it, I often thought to myself – “Wow, this would be great with some striking visuals and an epic score to sweep me away on a wave of emotion.”

Let’s do a little compare and contrast. Here’s how the scene reads where Daenerys jumps into a fire, then emerges unscathed surrounded by baby dragons.

Book vs. Movie

“When the fired died at last and the ground became cool enough to walk upon, Ser Jorah Mormont found her amidst the ashes, surrounded by blackened logs and bits of glowing ember and the burnt bones of man and woman and stallion. She was naked, covered with soot, her clothes turned to ash, her beautiful hair all crisped way…yet she was unhurt…As Daenerys Targaryen rose to her feet, her black hissed, pale smoke venting from its mouth and nostrils. The other two pulled away from her breasts and added their voices to the call, translucent wings stirring unfolding and stirring the air, and for the first time in hundreds of years, the night came alive with the music of dragons.”

Click through to see the video – apparently not appropriate for all audiences due to female nudity…

See what I mean? Even though the book came first, it feels like something you’d pick up at the airport gift shop that says “The new book based on the hit movie!” rather than the other way around.

I don’t have a problem with that – but I’m not going to read any more. I’ll just see the TV show, thank you very much. I just hope the nudity is limited to the most attractive male characters.

In contrast, I recently saw the movie “Cloud Atlas,” which joins the elite club of movies that are as good as the books they are based upon, which to date only includes “The English Patient,” “Adaptation,” and perhaps “Harry Potter,” though that’s a longer conversation.

Among the literati, it has long been taken as eternal truth that “the book is always better.” That is no longer true. More so, that’s a pointless conversation to have. It is possible for the same story to make an excellent book, an excellent movie – heck, I would love to see the same story also become a graphic novel, an immersive online game, a radio play…whatever. Take full advantage of whatever format in which you’re working. All I care about is whether it’s a good story well told.

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7 Comments

Filed under Books

7 responses to “Sometimes the book isn’t better: Game of Thrones, I’m talking to you

  1. I saw season one and two first, then read the first two books (actually over halfway the second book at the moment). I thought season one and book one were very similar, even in terms of the character’s lines. However, season two and book two have a LOT of differences. The book is waaaay more violent and sexual, there are many more characters than those you see in the tv show, and some of them I hope to see in season 3.

    Overall I am enjoying reading the books so far, as I wait for season three.

    • Thanks for sharing…this reminds me a bit of what happened with me reading Harry Potter. I liked the first one, made it through the second, then the movies started coming out and I just couldn’t seem to get through the third book, preferring just seeing the films. However, after seeing the final movie, I picked the books up again and thoroughly enjoyed the last few books as they became more complex than what could fit in a movie.

    • Kim

      By not reading the books, you miss Bran’s storyline, nearly entirely. You also miss a TON of backstory (Tower of Joy, in particular). And you even miss a good deal of Dany’s prophecies (which will Prove Important, ya know?).

      I agree, Martin does use a touch of cinematic stylings in his writing. This is indicative of a visual person.

      He wrote on Beauty and the Beast, after all. Isn’t surprising that when he wanted something “properly cinematic” and didn’t have the budget, that he’d turn to books.

  2. MOM

    Well, I have seen the first season and yes, I may have led a sheltered life or it certainly appears that I did, but when did full nudity and “leave nothing to the imagination” sex between any and all kinds quit being porn?
    PORN: Printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity.

  3. Travis White

    “I just hope the nudity is limited to the most attractive male characters.”

    How do you feel about Hodor?

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