How Game of Thrones’ Season 5 Premiere Differs From the Books

As we venture deeper into HBO Canada’s adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s popular book series, show writers are straying further from Martin’s original storyline. It’s understandable they would need to make adjustments for filming, but if you’ve read the books you know that’s not nearly enough time to tell the full story, and minor changes can have a major impact on the final outcome.

On that note, here’s a breakdown of how things went down in the season five premiere versus how things played out in the book.

The Cersei Flashback


How it went down on the show: Cersei seeks out the “Witch of the Forest” to hear what her future holds. The Witch grants three questions. Cersei is told she’ll become Queen but is warned that a younger, more beautiful, Queen will eventually cast her down. She says the King will have 20 children and Cersei will have three. Each of Cersei’s children will have crowns of gold and each is predicted to die before their time.

How it went down in the books: “Maggy the Frog” or “The Witch of the Forest” appears old and toothless in the books, scaring one of Cersei’s friends away with her glowing yellow eyes. This leaves Cersei with one companion, Melera, who also has her fortune told. Maggy predicts Cersei will be murdered by the hands of the Valonqar (meaning “little brother” in High Valyrian). She then predicts an early death for Melara, which later comes true, giving Cersei reason to worry. This is why she’s determined to find and kill Tyrion.

Tyrion arrives in Pentos


How it went down on the show: Tyrion rolls out of a crate to find Varys has sailed him to Pentos. They’re hiding in the home of Illyrio Mopatis, the same man that helped arrange Daenerys’ marriage to Khal Drogo. Tyrion goes straight for the wine and Varys goes on to discuss his hopes of having a Targaryen reclaim the Iron Throne.

How it went down in the books: Varys doesn’t sail to Pentos with Tyrion, but he did send him there right before disappearing himself. Upon his arrival, Tyrion meets with Illyrio Mopatis. This is when Tyrion is first introduced to the idea of Dany reclaiming the Throne.

The Sons of the Harpy


How it went down on the show: Unsullied warrior White Rat visits a brothel seeking comfort, not sex. While distracted by the whore, a Son of the Harpy slits White Rat’s throat. Ser Barristan later informs Daenerys the Sons of the Harpy are responsible—former officers of Meereen. He knows this because they left a Harpy mask on the body of the Unsullied.

How it went down in the books: Unsullied, Stalwart Shield, is attacked by six Sons of the Harpy but the attack doesn’t happen until he leaves the brothel. Stalwart Shield manages to kill one Harpy but dies in the process. The Harpy then paint their symbol on a wall using the Unsullied blood to let Dany know war is coming.

The King Beyond the Wall on Fire


How it went down on the show: Stannis Baratheon asks Jon Snow to convince Mance Rayder to bend the knee but Jon is unsuccessful. With the help of Melisandre, Stannis chooses to burn Mance in front of his Wildling followers. Mance tries his best to remain calm as he burns. Jon puts him out of his misery by shooting him with an arrow.

How it went down in the books: Stannis chooses to burn Mance Rayder without ever asking him to bend the knee. At the burning ceremony, Melisandre uses magic to disguise a wildling by the name of Rattleshirt to appear as Mance. While burning, the wildling insists he’s not Mance and screams for mercy. Jon orders his men to put “Mance” out of his misery. He never actually shoots an arrow

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