This is a continuation of ‘Game of Thrones’ season 2 and ‘A Clash of Kings’ comparison, part 1 in which we look at the differences between HBO’s “Game of Thrones” season 2 and the second installment of George R. R. Martin’s fantasy epic “A Clash of Kings” on which the events of the season are based.
Yesterday we looked at the Stark family. Today we focus on the Lions of Westeros, the Lannisters. The format for yesterday’s post was a little annoying to write. It was tiring looking for synonyms for “series” “episode” “difference” etc. So in the spirit of not working too hard I’m going to break down the rest of these posts in a way that is more straightforward.
Note: This is by no means an exhaustive detailing of the intricate differences between what David Benioff and Dan Weiss have created and what Martin put together for this installment of the series. What this is is a broad overview of the major variations. Please use the comments to append or argue with any of these.
I. Tyrion Lannister
Who would have thought that Tyrion Lannister would find himself not only as the Hand of the King in season 2 but also leading the defense of King’s Landing against Stannis Baratheon at the Battle of the Blackwater? Tyrion is one of the most heavily focused on characters in Martin’s novels and is likewise a standout on the HBO show (in many ways thanks to Peter Dinklage). Tyrion waffles as one of my favorite characters. His story is one that proves dizzying over time. It is his lot in life to be cast up and down in fortune at the whim of his cruel narrative. At the end of the latest episode of season 2 Tyrion is cut across the face by a member of the Kingsguard. Will he sruvive? If he does, what role will a scarred imp* have in Westeros?
I am committed to not giving away spoilers in this blog (at least not in a big way) so I’ll stay away from those questions. What I can do is spoil the crap out of what has already happened. Here goes.* that is how he is referred to in virtually every instance in the books and the show; no disrespect meant from me.
In the show: Tyrion comes to King’s Landing with Bronn, Shae and the mountain clans. He takes his place in the Tower of the Hand and puts Shae up in his residence with him. After Varys discovers Shae in Tyrion’s quarters the two work up a scheme for hiding Shae in the castle as a hand maiden to one of the ladies. She is assigned to Sansa and serves an active role in Sansa’s life, and in Tyrion’s as well. At one point, Cersei calls Tyrion in to tell him that she has found his “whore,” and then proceeds to reveal a woman working in a brothel who was not Shae, who is then girl is flogged by order of the Queen.
In the book: Shae’s first place of residence in “A Clash of Kings” is in a manse on the outskirts of King’s Landing. Tyrion makes it explicitly clear early on that she is not to be seen outside of her lavish home. In order to meet secretly, Tyrion uses a hidden door in a brothel to sneak out of the inner part of the city. Over time it is assumed that the woman he asks for each time he goes to the brothel is actually the woman he has been hiding and so she is brought before the queen and flogged. Tyrion becomes afraid that Shae will come to harm if she is left out of his sight for too long, that and Shae has grown tired of being kept a virtual prisoner in her home. Shae is then put in the service of Lady and Lollys Stokeworth who are companions of the Queen.
In the show: Upon arriving in King’s Landing, Tyrion immediately goes about dismantling the close circle his sister has created around her and the King. The current head of the City Watch Janos Slynt is removed from his position and exiled to the Wall for his part in the betrayal of Ned Stark and the murder of the bastard offspring of Robert Baratheon. Tyrion places Bronn at the head of the Gold Cloaks.
In the book: Janos Slynt is exiled for the same reason as mentioned above but he is replaced with Ser Jacelyn Bywater. Bronn remains the personal bodyguard of Tyrion throughout most of the book. Bronn never heads the City Watch. Instead he heads up multiple specialty groups charged with keeping peace in the city after the riots. Bronn also saves Tyrion from the Kingsguard after the large riot in which several members of the king’s family were attacked. In order to make headway against his sisters forces in the city, Tyrion has her poisoned and uses the convalescence period to imprison Pycell and buy off her agents.
In the show: Tyrion visits the pyromancer Hallyne who says he has been commissioned by the Queen to make as much wildfire as possible for use in defense of the city. Tyrion then takes control of the surplus and uses it to fill one ship to the point of overflow with the incendiary liquid. At the Battle of the Blackwater the ship is floated out among Stannis’ fleet and exploded by a flaming arrow shot by Bronn, destroying much of Stannis’ army.
Stannis’ troops still make it to the shoreline and the battle continues. Tyrion rallies his troops behind him and leads the attack on Stannis’ army after flanking them through a secret tunnel. During the battle, Tyrion’s face is cut by the sword of a member of the Kingsguard. This is more than likely done on purpose.
In the book: In both versions Tyrion takes control of the surplus of wildfire but Tyrion’s real strategic genius comes with the creation of a massive chain that runs between two watchtowers that connect the dock of King’s Landing to the Blackwater proper. When Stannis’ fleet is sailed into the bay by Daavos Seaworth, Bronn pulls the chain tight, trapping the vanguard of the naval attack in the bay, at which point multiple ships filled with wildfire are floated among Stannis’ ships and then set fire to.
Stannis resumes his attack and Tyrion moves to the shore and then onto the burning decks of the ships in the bay. He fights alongside Ser Mandon Moore, a knight lifted to the Kingsguard by Cersei, who follows him onto the fiery wrecks. During this battle, Mandon attempts to kill Tyrion with a vicious swipe of the sword. Tyrion moves at the last minute, though his nose is cut off. Podrick Payne then pushes Moore into the Blackwater, causing him to drown.
That takes us up to the cut off point for season 2. It looks like the plan to fill the boat with wildfire in the show has replaced the chain that traps Stannis’ fleet, which is a big part of the second book and a plan that is a point of pride for Tyrion.
II. Cersei Baratheon
Cersei Baratheon, nee Lannister, is probably the most difficult character, besides Joffrey, to sympathize with. I can find an empathetic note in almost every other character but she continues to come off as needlessly cruel and the inventor of her own torment. Even the fact that Joffrey is her child makes her more unlikable.
Whatever her motivations, Cersei is cunning and holds a great deal of power. What makes her intriguing is that she is accepting that she is in the twilight of her beauty’s power over men (and some women) and is looking to fortify her strength for the day when her weapon* is no longer sharp.
*if you don’t know what this is, I’m not explaining it to you.
In the show: Cersei spends most of her time in season 2 drunkenly arguing with Tyrion, opining about the future of her family or torturing Sansa Stark. Her role as Queen Regent is more of a figurehead position and her involvement in the running of the Kingdom is immediately undercut by Tyrion’s arrival in King’s Landing. She struggles to stop her son from killing Robert’s other children and basically ruling with cruelty.
In the book: Cersei is a much more active agent in “A Clash of Kings” and, during the period of time between the death of Ned Stark and the arrival of Tyrion, she consolidates her power as queen regent. First by having the bastards of Robert killed, unlike the series who places that on Joffrey and makes Cersei helpless to stop the killing.
Cersei also recruits three “knights” to her cause, known as the Kettlebacks. Cersei uses seduction and money to coerce them to her service but they are bought off by Tyrion and made spies.
In the show: Cersei is involved in the riot at King’s Landing but is caught up in the maelstrom that Joffrey creates.
In the book: A woman approaches the King’s party holding a dead baby. Joffrey tosses a few coins at the woman who ignores them. Cersei condescendingly dismisses the woman which causes her to scream at Cersei. Once thing leads to another, then there’s a riot.
In the show: Cersei convenes the women of the castle at the bottom of the Red Keep during the Battle of the Blackwater. This is a safe room for her and the other ladies. Illyn Pain is there presumably to protect them if Stannis breaks through. Cersei drinks heavily and is just plain mean to Sansa. At one point she is told of traitors fleeing the castle. Cersei has them killed. Later, her cousin Lancel enters the room explaining that the lines have broke. Cersei demands that Joffrey return from the front lines, much to Lancel’s protest. When it looks as though all is lost, Cersei takes Tommen to the Iron Throne and plans to poison the both of them to prevent capture by Stannis.
In the book: There are very few differences between the episode that depicts the Battle of the Blackwater and the chapters that comprise it in Martin’s book. The major difference is that Cersei never retreats to the throne room with Tommen. Instead she rides out the siege in the Red Keep until she is saved by her father and the Tyrell’s.
That’s that with Cersei. Most of the differences for her character come in the omissions from Martin’s version of events in his second book. The Kettlebacks who are a major feature in her life and at the castle during this time are completely missing from the HBO show. She also demonstrates a much less effective hand of power during her run in season 2 than in “A Clash of Kings.”
III. Joffrey Baratheon/Lannister
Joffrey is so very, very hateable. He is sadistic, vein, cowardly, overwhelmingly stupid and, worst of all, powerful. His role in the HBO version of “Game of Thrones” isn’t much different from his presence in Martin’s books. He primarily serves as the instigator for most of King’s Landing’s woes. Whether it be his unique form of crowd control or his complete lack of military skill, Joffrey is only there to serve chaos and his mother ensures he will have that right.
I have to hand it to the HBO guys, in Martin’s book Joffrey is spoiled and cruel but rarely pushes into the realm of the deeply psychotic. Benioff and Weiss have made him a full-out monster of a person very early on and he just grows from there. He remains the most unlikable and unsympathetic character I’ve ever seen on screen or in a book. In short, he’s one hell of a bad guy.
In the show: When Joffrey is informed that the citizens of King’s Landing are questioning his lineage he decrees that all bastards born of his father are to be murdered. Cersei plants this idea in his head but it’s his ruthlessness that insists that it’s carried out.
In the books: Joffrey is much more of a puppet in the book series, far too stupid to really understand that he is being manipulated. The death of Robert’s children is Cersei’s plan and is carried out with her knowledge.
In the show: After discovering that Robb Stark has been successful in several major battles in the Riverlands, Joffrey has Sansa called before the throne where she is knocked to the floor. Joffrey then instructs one of the Kingsguard to strike her with the flat side of a sword. Tyrion barges in before she is struck and saves her from the beating.
In an effort to pacify Joffrey, Tyrion has two prostitutes sent to his room where he proceeds to have one mercilessly beat the other while he watches in sadistic satisfaction.
In the book: The scene in which Sansa is beaten at court is much more graphic and violent than what is seen in the television show. Sansa is stripped naked and forced to cover herself with her hands while a member of the Kingsguard strikes her so much that she loses count of the blows. Joffrey instructs them not to strike her face but they leave the rest of her greatly bruised.
The scene with the prostitutes never actually occurs in the book. Tyrion hints at getting Joffrey a couple of women but nothing much else is said of it. The scene in the show with the two women from the brothel may be a way to further show Joffrey’s sadism since the scene with Sansa at court was toned down significantly.
In the show: At the Battle of the Blackwater, Joffrey boasts that he will slay Stannis with his own sword. He then heads to the front lines to command his troops. When Stannis’ ships approach King’s Landing he panics and eventually flees the battle causing great morale loss to his army, which begins to disband before Tyrion rallies them back together.
In the book: Joffrey spends very little time at the front lines in the Battle of the Blackwater. He spends most of the battle with a catapult firing the corpses of Stannis supporters over the walls at the raiding army.
There are such big things in store for this character that it is hard not to let some of the future slip in this post but I think I have kept it pretty well under raps. Let’s just say that his time of pissing of the audience does not end at the Blackwater.
IV. Tywin Lannister
It isn’t really necessary to go through a scene-by-scene breakdown of Tywin Lannister. He is also in the same boat as Robb Stark — a breakout TV character who doesn’t have much of a direct presence in the books. Tywin’s story is told through Tyrion’s interactions with him and eventually Cersei’s when he returns to King’s Landing in the Battle of the Blackwater. Suffice to say, he does not play anywhere near the role in ‘”A Clash of Kings” that he plays in season 2 of ‘GoT’.
Much of what the reader knows of Tywin is legend from the children of the Lannister family. Instead of having numerous scenes of children talking about their father, Benioff and Weiss have given Tywin the chance to speak for himself and it may be the best creative liberty the show takes. The scenes with Tywin and Arya at Harrenhal in the television show are as memorable as anything Martin has put in his novels so far. Tywin, however, was only at Harrenhal for a short time before leaving to cut off Stannis’ attack on King’s Landing.
Most of Tywin’s dialogue seems stitched together from passages in the books in which Tyrion, Cersei or Jamie recalls things their father has told them or stories of his rule of the family castle of Casterly Rock. However it came together, it is powerful and poignant and fits perfectly within the context of the show.
V. Jaime Lannister
Jaime Lannister doesn’t have much to do through 90 percent of “A Clash of Kings” as he spends most of the book locked away in a cell being argued over by the Starks and Karstarks. Faithful to the book, Jaime is shown in an attempted escape where he kills one of Rickard Karstarks’ sons, causing the old lord to call for his head.
Although the scene in which Jaime escapes isn’t detailed in the book (it is a report given after the fact), he does kill many Northmen in the attempt and is then recaptured. By the end of the second-to-last episode of the season, he has been set free by Catelyn Stark and is on the run from the Stark army in pursuit of being returned to King’s Landing in exchange for Arya and Sansa.
This is basically the same in Martin’s book. The escape from Riverrun, where he is held in the book, is an mini-epic boat chase that results in Brienne sinking a Riverrun ship. So far in the series it has been a canoe escape.
VI. Tommen and Myrcella
Tommen and Myrcella are the youngest children of Cersei Lannister and Robert Baratheon (well, you know who their real father is). Like Rickon Stark, they don’t have many featured scenes. Myrcella is shipped to Dorne in both season 2 of “GoT’ and “A Clash of Kings.” Other than that she isn’t seen too often.
Likewise, Tommen has very little to do in this part of this story. The scene at the end of the Blackwater battle in the series features Tommen and Cersei, but this scene is not present in Martin’s books.
Just because Tommen and Myrcella aren’t terribly important now doesn’t mean they will stay hidden forever. Cersei protects her children at all costs so it is really hard to ditch a Lannister kid from the story.
Next up - Daenarys Targaryen and the Baratheon Brothers.