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Game of Thrones s5e1 book / speculation followup for non-readers: "The Wars to Come"

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Thank you lukeatlook for this great summary:

Welcome to the weekly followup for non-readers! If you're new to this series, you may want to read this post first, but it's completely optional. Overall it is meant to enhance your viewing experience by presenting trivia from the books.

Spoiler scope is "you're good to go". No spoiling future events of the show, at least I'm trying not to, but you'll come out knowing more than the show has presented. That is kinda the whole point.

TL;DR: Background drop - Reader notes - Scene-by-scene followup - Valiant yet futile attempts at jokes - OH GOD WE DIFFER FROM THE BOOKS SO MUCH NOW

Baba Yaga's Hut

We don't need to fear my father - Cersei Lannister, in a truly timeless quote now relevant for anyone who used to be afraid of Tywin Lannister

  • This is just about the very first flashback the show ever had. It's definitely not the first one in the books - memories of war, recollections of childhood stories and dreams of past events are quite prominent in the series. Sometimes such flashbacks would present a threat to the suspense, as they would reveal too much - the thing about vast amount of history is that you can't pinpoint what's exactly the important detail until way later on, while a TV recap would highlight the interesting parts in a overtly "in-your-face" way, as it already does with the entirety of machinations plotted by Littlefinger and Varys.
  • What makes it even more of a rare sight is the kind of this scene - it's a prophecy, which is another type of content that's been almost entirely cut off from the show, or at least completely rewritten, as it was with the House of the Undying. Again, presenting such visions or even focusing on specific prophecies would reveal too much.
  • Why show this particular scene, then? Well, unlike all the other characters, puzzled but unmoved by the things they've heard or witnessed, Cersei is heavily influenced by Maggy the Frog's prophecy. It's still on her mind after all these years, even more so now that so much of it has turned out to be true.
  • What further explains Cersei's character and motivation is that Maggy has one more vision for her: "a younger brother wrapping his hands around her throat". This only fuels Cersei's hate for Tyrion, as she's afraid he'll be the one to take her down.
  • The prince that Cersei was supposed to marry was noone else but Rhaegar Targaryen. The visit to the hut takes place during a tourney hosted in Lannisport to celebrate the birth of Viserys Targaryen. Aerys "Mad King" Targaryen was present, but he rejected Tywin's offer to marry Cersei to Rhaegar. Tywin was Aerys's Hand for 20 years, but he left King's Landing on bad terms. If you want to grasp on how tight that character diagram is, Aerys has later sent Steffon Baratheon (father of Robert, Stannis and Renly) to search for a suitable bride for Rhaegar; Steffon died in a shipwreck and the prince ended up marrying Elia Martell (sister to Doran and Oberyn Martell).

For more information on prophecies, check this week's /u/GRVrush2112's post in his Adding Context series.

Googly Eyes

Thank you so much for your kind words - Cersei, picking a very polite and restrained way to say "Go and fuck yourself"

  • The fourth book is called A Feast for Crows and takes off more or less where season 4 left us, starting with the plotlines of Iron Islands, Dorne and King's Landing who are left to deal with the events that finished A Storm of Swords. Other point-of-view characters in the beginning are Arya, Brienne and Samwell (the last two are new to the POV group).
  • Iron Islands are at this stage for all intents and purposes written out of the show, and unless we revisit that location in season 6, expect the utmost level of salt from book readers. Myself included. If we see them again, however, expect HYPE as strong as the hype for The Witcher 3.
  • King's Landing, for the very first time, is shown from Cersei's POV - up to this point it used to be Eddard, Arya, Sansa, Tyrion and later Jaime. This allows us for an insight into her mind and a very unique perspective of the location, never seen before.
  • The chapter begins in the morning after Tyrion's escape. Cersei has a dream in which she's sitting on the Iron Throne, but once a dwarf starts laughing at her, she realizes she's naked and the blades of the Iron Throne start to harm her. She wakes up from the nightmare only to find out that her father is dead and Tyrion has escaped. The Kingsguard, maesters and the servants clean up the mess, with Shae's body disposed of in a way so that noone can find out about her.
  • The mourning for Tywin Lannister lasted for seven days. His body has taken an unnatural color and spreads a foul stench. The scene in the Sept of Baelor features young Tommen, who is unable to withstand the reek. He is excused as emotionally upset.
  • The crowd mourning Tywin is noticeably smaller than the ones that bode farewell to Robert and Joffrey Baratheon, as Tywin is still remembered as the man who sacked the city at the end of Robert's Rebellion.
  • Cersei intially urges Jaime to take Tywin's post as Hand of the King. Jaime publicly japes at his hand-less status and refuses the offer.
  • Lancel Lannister is a pious man, but definitely not one of the sparrows. In the books Tywin has him become a lord and marry a Frey woman (a widow) to please Kevan Lannister (Tywin's brother). In the show, Lancel jumps from a background character to a more prominent one.
  • I've repeated that many times already, but the books handle sex scenes differently. We can start with the fact that only POV characters can have sex scenes, and then you have the problem of half of the POV characters being children. And since neither Loras nor Renly are POV characters, there are no gay sex scenes (with Olyvar being a show-only character).
  • I'm not sure if it's time to say that already, but it seems this plotline has wrapped up: Loras's engagement to Cersei was never a thing in the books. Furthermore, as was already mentioned in previous followups, Loras and Margaery have two older brothers, so Loras is not the sole heir of the Tyrell family. Of course this dynamic is different in the show, but the book story explains why there was no urge on Loras to marry or no prior engagements (or, why did the Tyrells let him join Renly's Kinsguard and generally let him be "free" of marital arrangements).
  • And then, or even in the first place, book Loras is a hopless romantic, still in love with Renly. He wouldn't sleep around.

This Side Up

The future is shit, just like the past - Tyrion Lannister, very optimistic about the show's development

  • The fifth book, A Dance with Dragons, depicts events that occur simultaneously to AFFC. The two books are split by characters - while AFFC covers most of Westeros, action of ADWD is almost all in Essos (plus the Wall, plus some other stuff).
  • ADWD was supposed to be published a year after AFFC. The delay was prolonged to 6 years for various reasons, one of them being the "Meereenese knot", in which various character storylines had to come to a common conclusion in Meereen, but they were all in a huge mess. The problem was resolved by band-aids such as adding new POV characters (Barristan Selmy being one of them), which gradually broke the consistency of the first few books (which juggled between a closed list of 7-10 POV characters) and starting to resemble the show format.
  • What this leads us to, is the footnote to all scenes in Essos from now on: The show-only content is a new, alternative and quite possibly a way more thought-out story. The showrunners had the opportunity to re-do the whole thing and avoid making the same miskates GRRM has made.
  • For today's episode, let's just note that we're revisiting Pentos for the first time since S01E01, and Tyrion's story picks up where he starts in ADWD, even though there are some distinct differences.

Unchained Slaves, Chained Dragons

I'm not a politician. I'm a queen - Daenerys "Kelly C" Targaryen, more correct that she realizes

  • The events of this episode are the start of ADWD for Daenerys, although various events from ADWD like the events that led up to chaining the dragons were taken from ADWD as well. ASOS ends with Daenerys settling down in Meereen, and given that season 4 has already covered parts of her reign, we're bound to run out of book material by the end of this season. As we are with pretty much all of the characters, actually.
  • The killed Unsullied was Stalwart Shield, but the show named him White Rat to keep the "dirty" theme.
  • Sons of the Harpy mark their victims by drawing a harpy in blood.
  • Again, quick reminder - there is no relationship between Grey Worm and Missandei in the books (considering Missandei is 10), but the show format chose to go for it in order to portray the effects of the horrors that made them into Unsullied, which the books achieve with background drops and omissions. A bit more "show, don't tell" approach.
  • It appears that Daario Naharis has taken a few character traits from Strong Belwas, the fat gladiator who fought the champion of Meereen in the books. In this case it's the fighting pits background.

A Warm Goodbye

Traitor who planted a dagger in Robb Stark's heart. Don't you want to avenge him? - Stannis Baratheon, blissfully unaware of what happens to anyone fighting in Team Stark

  • The Wall is still finishing up the last few chapters from A Storm of Swords.
  • Janos Slynt is not a sidekick to Alliser Thorne; it's the other way around. Book Slynt is a corrupt douche, but not a coward. I appreciate "The Watchers on the Wall" episode for what it was, but after seeing that hideously written character in "The Hobbit" I'm allergic to the "ha ha what a coward" archetype.
  • Book Stannis is way more about arming up against the White Walkers than conquest for the sake of it (that was the entire reason for his journey to the North) in his rhatoric at this point, but I guess we can still get there later on.
  • Mance gets "famous last words" and a conversation with Jon Snow, which we didn't have in the books. Cut from the show, however, is the issue of his wife and newborn child, which I presume is now irrelevant.
  • The differences pile on and I'm going to wait a while before I uncover what they are. This problem can still be resolved in a different way. From what I've heard the Rattleshirt character has been recast, and we could see a serious re-writing of the Wilding plotline.

The Scooby-Doo Corridor Chase

So, where are we going? - Sansa Stark, as puzzled as the readers and non-readers alike

  • The extent of content that appears to be cut from the show is just ridiculous. Basically the entirety of AFFC when it comes to Sansa and Brienne has been discarded and rewritten from scratch.
  • Good news is: We haven't lost anything of importance. Sansa's character development with Robert Arryn and lords of the Vale had its perks, but otherwise it's one of the weakest points of already weak book of the series. Same goes for the Brienne's solitary (!) road trip, which features myriads of dead ends and exploring locations and characters that seem highly irrelevant.
  • In the next week's post - or in a separate post altogether, seems like a perfect job for /u/GRVrush2112 - we'll cover the entirety of Brienne's journey up to meeting Podrick Payne (and from there onwards, as it seems to be entirely different in its course). As for Sansa... let's just say that in the teaser chapter of The Winds of Winter (the unpublished 6th book!) she's still at Eyrie with Littlefinger and Sweetrobin.


Seriously, right now the recommendation is not "read the books so you can learn what will happen next" but "read the books so you can know the alternate story". This is going to become problematic for my followups, as I can't supplement a show-only content in the same way as with straight adaptation.

And that concludes this week's followup. The character limit has been increased to 15 000 characters, so we should be able to fit all the followups in one post from now on, without having to put the excess content in first reply. Feel free to include any feedback, point out mistakes and/or omissions - I'll surely update the post.

Here you can find a compilation of all previous posts.

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