Game of Thrones (book/show) newbie (please no spoilers!)

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by DevilEyes, Jun 8, 2013.

  1. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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
    - that Sean Bean aka Ned Start does not survive season 1 -
    and some mild/general ones
    like Jaime Lannister having a thing for his sister
    , so please don't spoil it any further for me. :)
     
  2. Marc

    Marc Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    in relation to spoiler number 2 all I can say is as things go along you have a good argument against incest.
     
  3. Venardhi

    Venardhi Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  4. Shanndee

    Shanndee Commodore Commodore

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    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!
     
  5. Brendan Moody

    Brendan Moody Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^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.
     
  6. Venardhi

    Venardhi Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  7. Miss Chicken

    Miss Chicken Little three legged cat with attitude Admiral

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    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.
     
  8. Ayelbourne

    Ayelbourne Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    ^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.
     
  9. Mr Light

    Mr Light Admiral Admiral

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

    First impressions... apparently this takes place before the missionary position was invented...
     
  10. Wereghost

    Wereghost Part-time poltergeist Rear Admiral

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    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,
    the sheer pathos of Ned's execution scene, where he looks like death even before the sword falls.
     
  11. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  12. Marc

    Marc Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    There is a in universe reason for that (well amongst the Dothraki at least).
     
  13. Shurik

    Shurik Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  14. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.

    But if books 1-3 are the best fantasy to be read, why spoil all the plotlines by watching an inferior TV show beforehand?
     
  15. sidious618

    sidious618 Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  16. Shurik

    Shurik Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    IMO, the problems with 4 and 5 go far beyond pacing and momentum, but let's not fill this particular thread with spoilers.

    Also, I love the TV show. Seeing before reading or reading before seeing will spoil the other thing anyway, but TV show comes more regularly than the books and most chances are that the ending to this whole story will be on TV first. So unless the OP wants to wait with watching the show till 2020 or thereabouts, I'd recommend the TV show and then reading. In my humble opinion, of course.
     
  17. Marc

    Marc Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Okay so you don't like the show.

    How about letting others make up their own mind instead of continually pissing on it.
     
  18. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    I find that the books and the show compliment each other very well.

    The books are very detailed, we find out much more about the backgrounds of the characters and history of Westroes.

    The show is great because nearly all the characters are perfectly cast, the superb production values, and awesome visual effects. The amount of characters to keep track of in the books can be overwhelming, so it's great to finally have faces for all the characters.
     
  19. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The fuck is your problem? The OP asked for opinions and I gave mine.
     
  20. Captaindemotion

    Captaindemotion Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I sort of half-watched the tv show when it started (I wasn't paying proper attention) and got fairly confused fairly early on. I only really started paying attention in Ep 9 when the big final scene of that episode happened and I thought 'F*ck, that's some brave storytelling.' I then wished I'd been watching more closely all along.

    Around the time that S2 began airing, I saw the first book in my library. As a rule, I Don't Read Fantasy Ever. Other than the LOTR saga, none of it ever appealed to me. And I figured I probably wouldn't like this book. But I thought, well, it's free, I can read a few pages or chapters and if I don't like it, I'll return it.

    Totally hooked. Loved the book even more than the show and mentally kicked myself for not paying proper attention to the tv show. Was lucky enough to find the second book almost immediately in the library. Downloaded 3 & 4 on my kindle, bought the 2 volumes of part 5 in Tesco on a buy-one-get-one free offer.

    I have since re-read all the books and as a rule I Don't Re-Read Books Ever. And I loved them as much the second time. I actually bought books 1 and 2 to complete my collection as well.

    So if a non-fantasy reading, non-re-reading type like me has read and re-read these books...that's how good they are. I'd definitely say give the first book a go at the very least.