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Science Fiction & Fantasy Farscape, Babylon 5, Star Wars, Firefly, vampires, genre books and film.

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Old June 8 2013, 12:10 AM   #1
DevilEyes
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Game of Thrones (book/show) newbie (please no spoilers!)

Game of Thrones newbie here!

I've never seen any episodes of the show, but I have been intending to start watching it for a while - or to read the book. I always thought I'd start watching the show first, especially since I have the first season available at home, but I haven't found the time to get around to it (especially with a bunch of other shows I have to finish fist). A couple of days ago I borrowed the book from the library (it was amazing luck that it happened to be available when I came over) and I've read the prologue and the next 3 and a half chapters - so far it's just setting things up. (I read relatively slowly, because I rarely read at home, unless the book gets me super-excited, and most of my reading is done on buses and trams and while waiting at the dentist etc.)

I have a couple of questions for people who have both read the book and seen the show:

1) Do you think I should finish the book first and only then watch season 1, or would it better to start watching the show now? Or maybe even combine the two?

2) Does the show diverge from the books significantly, and does it include material that's not in the books?

I know who plays the characters on the show, but so far I only know one big spoiler
and some mild/general ones
, so please don't spoil it any further for me.
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Old June 8 2013, 12:31 AM   #2
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Re: Game of Thrones (book/show) newbie (please no spoilers!)

in relation to spoiler number 2 all I can say is as things go along you have a good argument against incest.
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Old June 8 2013, 12:34 AM   #3
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Re: Game of Thrones (book/show) newbie (please no spoilers!)

I love the books more than is rational or healthy. If you aren't a big reader though, you may be better off just enjoying the TV show. If you dig it and want to delve more into the world, the character's motivations and some of the subtleties of the plot you can pick up the books afterwards.
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Old June 8 2013, 01:34 AM   #4
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Re: Game of Thrones (book/show) newbie (please no spoilers!)

DevilEyes, I have the first 4 books sitting on my shelf, as yet unopened. I was going to start reading them at the end of this TV season. However, after last week's episode I am going to hold off on reading the books a little longer. I would have HATED to know that scene was coming!

Unless...

Venardhi, how much can I read to simply catch up to the TV show without coming across spoilers for the show?

Cheers!
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Old June 8 2013, 01:47 AM   #5
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Re: Game of Thrones (book/show) newbie (please no spoilers!)

^The first three seasons cover the first two books and the first 60% or so of the third. When you get to the equivalent of the big scene from last week's episode you'd want to stop reading, because soon after that major developments that won't happen in the show until season four begin to occur.

To the OP: like Venardhi, I'm ridiculously fond of the books, but they're obviously a big time commitment. The first season of the show is extraordinarily faithful to the first book, so you might want to watch that and decide if you're interested in reading a prose version of it, with more backstory and more world-building detail. The later seasons tend to alter storylines in ways that don't change major plot points but do make some characters and themes pretty different. The show occasionally features original scenes or scenes implied but not actually described in the books, but so far there are no invented storylines.
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Old June 8 2013, 01:58 AM   #6
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Re: Game of Thrones (book/show) newbie (please no spoilers!)

There are a few storylines that border on wholecloth inventions for the show, especially in the second season. I have my issues with many of the changes but also acknowledge my high level of bias in favor of the book versions so I can't be a fair judge of them. Viewers of the show seem to be just fine with them.

While you can read up to the events of the end of this season in the books, you will be overlapping with stories that have yet to be introduced into the show. There are important characters and plots that appear early on in the 3rd book who are being held back for the 4th season of the show.
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Old June 8 2013, 02:05 AM   #7
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Re: Game of Thrones (book/show) newbie (please no spoilers!)

I watched the first season on DVD and I was so anxious to continue the story that I started to read the second book. The first book and first season must have been so similar that starting from the second book posed no problems for me. I have now read books 2-5 and maybe one day I will read the first book.
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Old June 8 2013, 03:13 AM   #8
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Re: Game of Thrones (book/show) newbie (please no spoilers!)

^Same here. Watched season one and then went on to read book two, skipping book one entirely. No problems. Filled in the blanks from book one over time by skimming through wikis and forums.
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Old June 8 2013, 03:13 AM   #9
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Re: Game of Thrones (book/show) newbie (please no spoilers!)

I actually just started the series myself tonight. We watched three episodes.

First impressions... apparently this takes place before the missionary position was invented...
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Old June 8 2013, 01:01 PM   #10
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Re: Game of Thrones (book/show) newbie (please no spoilers!)

The only reliable way to avoid spoilers for the story in general is, I think, to read the books ahead of where the story is on television. Also, they have depth and breadth that you can't really get in a ten-hour TV show, not to mention better special effects. For my money, certain scenes are almost necessarily better through the use of prose; for example,
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Old June 8 2013, 03:41 PM   #11
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Re: Game of Thrones (book/show) newbie (please no spoilers!)

Oh, read the books. The show had an excellent first season that was as perfect an adaptation as could be expected but the following two have really let it down.

The show just dumbs things down far too much. Pretty much all the elements of mystery and foreshadowing have been eliminated (House of Undying in the show was utterly pointless!), the moral ambiguity has been severely removed so now Tyrion is some handsome, Fonz-esque, whitewashed audience favourite. Stannis has gone from being one of the coolest mother fuckers in the history of fantasy fiction in to being an unrecognisable clingy pussy that just wants to get his dick wet.

Oh, and as for the sex. Expect juvenile made-for-the-show antics with Ros, or American Pie-esque comedy sequences such as Pod getting with some hookers. All this shit gets tons of screentime while the show cuts important character beats like Jaime's dream.

Show is a fun distraction but the books are among the best you could read. HBO GoT is a cool drama with some characters perfectly cast (Jaime, Melisandre, Varys, Davos) but the books have an entire world for you to escape in to. Books are cheaper than DVDs too so there's no excuse.
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Old June 8 2013, 05:16 PM   #12
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Re: Game of Thrones (book/show) newbie (please no spoilers!)

Mr Light wrote: View Post
I actually just started the series myself tonight. We watched three episodes.

First impressions... apparently this takes place before the missionary position was invented...
There is a in universe reason for that (well amongst the Dothraki at least).
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Old June 8 2013, 06:17 PM   #13
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Re: Game of Thrones (book/show) newbie (please no spoilers!)

The first three books are probably the best fantasy I've ever read. I've read them 3 times and will probably re-read again when the sixth book is released. The show is a great adaptation - not perfect, but the books aren't perfect either. Books 4 and 5 were a big letdown for me personally. The narrative in them is divided by characters, meaning you'll get some of the characters in one of the books only. The fifth book also ends on a million different cliffhangers and you'll have to wait for a couple of years at least to see their resolution.

I'd say watch the episodes of the show that are available now first and then read books 1-3, because the end of the third book has some sense of closure, in very open-ending kind of way. Wait with books 4 and 5 until the sixth is released.
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Old June 8 2013, 06:53 PM   #14
DalekJim
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Re: Game of Thrones (book/show) newbie (please no spoilers!)

Shurik wrote: View Post
The first three books are probably the best fantasy I've ever read. I've read them 3 times and will probably re-read again when the sixth book is released. The show is a great adaptation - not perfect, but the books aren't perfect either. Books 4 and 5 were a big letdown for me personally.
I agree 1-3 are better, and among the best fantasy I've read also, but 4 and 5 are still very good fantasy novels. They just lack the momentum of the first 3 because of how GRRM changed his original intention regarding the story's pacing.

I'd say watch the episodes of the show that are available now first and then read books 1-3
But if books 1-3 are the best fantasy to be read, why spoil all the plotlines by watching an inferior TV show beforehand?
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Old June 8 2013, 07:02 PM   #15
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Re: Game of Thrones (book/show) newbie (please no spoilers!)

I'd say read the books first but if you're not much of a reader then go with the show. The show is a better adaptation than I could have ever dreamed of.
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