This is a continuation of ‘Game of Thrones’ season 2 and ‘A Clash of Kings’ comparison, part 1 (Starks) and ‘Game of Thrones’ season 2 and ‘A Clash of Kings’ comparison, part 2 (Lannisters) 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 focused on the Lannister family, primarily on those characters in King’s Landing. Today we will finish up the stray characters from Westeros (where all the knights live) and head across the Narrow Sea to Essos (where all the dragons live) in tomorrow’s edition.
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.
And now… The Baratheon Boys, Theon Greyjoy and the Hound.
I. Stannis Baratheon
Stannis was one of those characters that I had to grow to embrace in Martin’s book series. I won’t say for how long he lasts in the War of the Five Kings but I will tell you that if you’re looking for him to be gone by the end of season 2 then you are going to be disappointed, begging the question, why does Martin only kill the ones we love?*
Like Tywin Lannister and Robb Stark, Stannis Baratheon is not a perspective character in Martin’s books. He is, however, a major part of the war in Westeros and many of the perspective characters (Daavos, Melisandre, etc.) spend entire chapters with him so he is as well developed as any side character in the book series.
* that’s the biggest spoiler I’ll give during this, but you should have seen it coming. Martin and HBO don’t do away with people off screen.
In the show: At the beginning of season 2 Stannis is only a rumor, as he has fled back to Dragonstone (the castle Robert gave him after he secured the throne) and had ignored all of Ned Stark’s petitions to return to the city. No one really knows what’s going on at Dragonstone, even Varys was lost as to what the eldest Baratheon had been planning.
The first scenes with Stannis Baratheon show a concerned Maester Cressen, Stannis’ longtime Maester, questioning the actions of Stannis’ new high adviser, the Red Priestess Melisandra. The mysterious woman has collected all of the Seven Gods of Westeros and has set them aflame as a devotion to the Lord of Light, the fire-made god that Melisandre and now Stannis worship. The Maester speaks briefly with Stannis loyalist Daavos Seaworth, a smuggler who was lifted into knighthood by the stern Lord of Dragonstone, who likewise is skeptical of the new faith and priestess.
Maester Cressen attempts to poison Melisandre to stop her influence on Stannis but she is not overtaken with his tincture. He, instead, dies by his own potion and Melisandre raises up the incident as proof of the power of the Lord of Light.
In the book: The scene laid out in the opening of season 2 is a combination of the prologue to “A Clash of Kings” and chapter 10. The prologue begins with Cressen meeting with Stannis’ daughter, an unfortunate and morbid child who has been afflicted with a disfiguring disease, and her jester Patches, a man who was struck with dementia as a young boy. Cressen then attempts to advise Stannis about the upcoming war but is rebuked by Stannis’ wife Selyse, a stern woman who actually invited the faith of Melisandre into their home.
Cressen is unhappy with the influence of Melisandre over Stannis and attempts to poison her at a feast that evening. He oversleeps and rushes into the hall where the feast has already commenced and attempts to poison Melisandre’s wine. She drinks the wine but so does Cressen (to give her the assurance that it is safe to drink). Melisandre watches as Cressen dies from the poison while she appears to not be affected in the least.
Cressen never actually sees the Seven burned. He dies some time before Melisandre has them destroyed. The statues are also burned in the sept of Dragonstone (think chapel or worship space) instead of on the beach.
In the show: Stannis is seen in his war room with Daavos. He asks his advice about a possible attack on King’s Landing. Daavos shows his reluctance to head straight for the capitol city and instead urges a more lasting peace with his younger brother Renly. Melisandre assures Stannis that the Lord of Light will see him victorious.
Stannis dismisses Daavos leaving only the Red Priestess and the Lord of Dragonstone in the room. Melisandre promises Stannis that he is the savior of the world and the true King and then promises that she can give him what he wants: sons. Stannis and Melisandre clear the war table in that sexy way that HBO loves so much.
In the book: The motivations and basic actions of each of the characters are present in “A Clash of Kings” but Stannis and Melisandra never actually have sex in the books, or at least it’s only hinted at. The scene at the end seems like it was added to increase the sex factor in the show, a factor that has been well attended to by Benioff and Weiss.
In the show: Stannis lands on the main land mass of Westeros and proceeds to his brother’s host who is having an opulent tourney, presumably in front of Storms End, the Baratheon home castle. Stannis gives Renly one chance to renounce his claim to the throne. Renly brushes off the offer and returns to his army. That night Daavos smuggles Melisandre back on shore through a gated entryway near where Renly has set up camp. Melisandre, now pregnant, gives birth to a shadow creature that takes the form of Stannis. The creature materializes at the Renly camp and slays Renly leaving his followers in a state of confusion.
In the books: Stannis’ first move in Westeros is to secure the castle at Storm’s End where one of Robert’s bastards is being housed by the castellan, whom is a longtime Baratheon follower. The siege at Storm’s End drags on due to the stubbornness of the man holding the castle and his reluctance to let go of Robert’s son (Melisandre wishes to sacrifice him to the Red God, she claims the blood of kings is needed to wake the dragons and call them to Stannis’ aid).
Daavos smuggles Melisandre through the same hidden passage he used a decade or so earlier in life to break the siege of Storm’s End during Robert’s rebellion. Melisandre, in keeping with the show, gives birth to a shadow who kills the Storm’s End castellan, breaking the siege. The shadow then proceeds to Renly’s host to dispatch Renly once and for all.
The rest of Stannis’ appearance on the TV series is pretty in keeping with Martin’s second book. If I’m not mistaken, Stannis does not offer Daavos the position of Hand of the King on the deck of the ship sailing into the Battle of The Blackwater. There is still one more episode to explain the fallout from that battle so we’ll see if they conclude the show on the same note they end with the book.
II. Renly Baratheon
Renly isn’t a major character in Martin’s epic. He is the youngest of a group of men who all at one time or another make claim to the throne. He is young and handsome and likeable but his abilities pretty much end there. His death early in the season is more a surprise for how it came to be than his actual departure from the series.
Most of what needs to be discussed about Renly goes on in the bedroom. Renly has a relationship with the handsome knight Loras Tyrell, brother to Margaery Tyrell, Renly’s wife and queen. In the book series Renly and Loras’ relationship is heavily hinted at but no scene between them actually emerges. The sex scenes in the show are additions to the story. Perhaps the most astonishing addition is the scene between Margaery Tyrell and Renly in which she offers to bring Loras into the bedroom if it will help them consummate their marriage and provide an heir to his throne. Margaery is not at all this character in Martin’s book, but like the relationship between her husband and her brother there is definitely source in Martin’s book to support that she would be the type to make this suggestion. She is smart and cunning and not likely to let power for her and her family slip away.
III. Theon Greyjoy
Theon Theon Theon, we all knew you were a little tag along and a loudmouth but few people thought that you were capable of the type of betrayal and all around weinery behavior you engage in through season 2 of the show, and in “A Clash of Kings.” No matter how you felt coming into this season, there’s little doubt that this guy rocketed straight to the top of your sh** list. Benioff and Weiss have done a great job with this character. Martin begins to focus on Theon in book 2 and for good reason. He has the perfect eyes through which to watch the ruin of the North, an outsider who understands all the inside roles. Whether he’s unknowingly hitting on his sister or killing his best friend’s brothers, he just can’t ever do anything right. He’s like the murderous Charlie Brown of the group.
In my opinion, Theon’s season 2/book 2 ending is the most dramatic and shocking so I’m not going to approach some of the major differences between the show and the book as that would give away what will happen in the last episode of the season. I’ll touch on some of the light differences and come back around and explain the major change after we see how HBO ends things this year.
In the show: Theon returns to the Iron Islands as an envoy of Robb Stark. His goal is to convince his father to cast his support of the Stark claim in exchange for the free rule of the Iron Islands once the North is set free from the Seven Kingdoms. Theon proceeds to hit on his sister Yara and get a powerful scolding form his father who already has his own plans to invade the North and take his freedom for himself. Theon eventually comes to his father’s way of thinking and joins the Greyjoy rebellion.
Theon takes command of one of the worst ships in the Greyjoy fleet, complete with a crew that despises him. Theon is approached by the first mate who convinces him that if he wants respect he’ll have to do more than raid fishing villages, and so he turns his ship towards Winterfell where he sneaks over the castle walls at night and assumes control from Bran.
In the book: Not much really changes. Yara’s name in the book series is Asha, it was changed to keep from conflicting with Osha, a Wildling taken as a prisoner by Robb Stark. Furthermore, Theon is made captain of eight ships and is under the watch of his Uncle Aeron and Dagmer Cleftjaw, a longtime raider.
In Martin’s version, Theon decides to take Winterfell after growing jealous of his sister’s prized take, Deepwood Motte, a castle nestled in the swamplands. Cleftjaw, behind Theon’s plan, attacks Torrhen’s Square, a Northern City causing Ser Roderick, the Stark castellan, to take 200 men to stop the attack. It is during that period that Theon takes the castle at Winterfell.
In the show: Theon, in a show of power, has Ser Roderick beheaded. His hold on Winterfell is tenuous at best as most of the castle knows him and considers what he’s done to be a massive betrayal, they are more sickened by Theon than afraid. Osha, the Wildling servant, seduces Theon and a few guards in order to help Bran, Rickon, Hodor and herself escape. Theon chases after them and supposedly kills them and hangs the boys’ tarred bodies from the towers of Winterfell.
In the book: Theon is never seduced by Osha, though she does seduce a few of his guards during the escape. Instead Theon takes up with another woman in Winterfell during his hold on the castle. Throughout the TV series the first-mate of Theon’s ship has been the major advocate for most of his actions, but this is not the case in Martin’s rendition. A character named Reek is captured during Theon’s time at Winterfell, who becomes the person behind many of the sadistic actions of Theon. Reek is not in the HBO series as of the last episode and doesn’t look like he’ll make an appearance this season, if he does at all. Reek plays an important part in Theon’s life and it will be interesting to see how Benioff and Weiss deal with his absence.
In addition, Theon never had Ser Roderick beheaded; Ser Roderick is killed during an attempt to take back Winterfell.
Again, there is still a major surprise coming in the TV show at this point so I’ll refrain from elaborating on these points.
IV. The Hound
Sandor Clegane, aka The Hound, is a densely disturbed individual. His psyche is fractured in that kind of way that can’t be repaired. Season 2 really let’s him grow as a character and he is pretty consistent from page to screen. The only major difference that I can see is in the scene where the Hound confronts Bronn in the tavern before The Battle of the Blackwater. This scene does not appear in the books but was written by Martin for the episode and really feels like something that he reluctantly cut (if you’ve read the books then you’ll be amazed that anything was cut at all). The scene provides a solid look into the warped philosophy that governs Clegane, but more importantly, it is deftly perceptive as to the philosophy that controls the basic culture of Westeros in general.
Clegane gives a similar speech after fleeing the Blackwater after being overcome by a deep fear of fire (his face is the result of his brother holding his head down on a pile of hot coals). In both “A Clash of Kings” and season 2 of “Game of Thrones” the Hound confronts Sansa in her quarters and offers to take her from King’s Landing, though in the book he never promises to take her North.
V. The Battle of the Blackwater
I have already detailed most of the differences between the written and filmed versions of the Battle of the Blackwater. I really like the changes that Martin (who wrote the episode), Benioff and Weiss made to the battle. It takes up multiple chapters in the book “A Clash of Kings” and really changes the entire dynamic of Westeros.
Among those changes that are most noticeable that have yet to be addressed are:
1. The battle takes place during the day, not at night, in the books
2. Wildfire doesn’t appear to be as powerful as it is made out in the TV show, as it mostly seems to be about the same as napalm, burning for a long time and spreading quickly, not as explosive or green as is laid out by the HBO version.
3. The battle takes place across multiple parts of the city of King’s Landing, and there are several scenes that take place at the multiple gates to the city.
4. The Tyrell wearing Renly’s armor when Tywin’s army broke into the battle was not Loras, as shown in the TV show, but was actually Ser Garlan Tyrell, Loras’ older brother.
Tomorrow we wrap everything up by looking at the story of Daenarys Targaryen and the starving hoard of Dothraki she calls family.