How the Game of Thrones Season 5 Finale Differs From the Books

The Game of Thrones television series has officially caught up with the majority of the books’ primary storylines, which means this could be my last “Book vs. Show” review if George R.R. Martin doesn’t hurry up and finish The Winds of Winter.

Here’s a breakdown of how things went down in “Mother’s Mercy” compared to how things played out in the books—so far.

Do Your Duty


How it went down on the show: Podrick spotted Stannis and his men marching on Winterfell and informed Brienne of Tarth, prompting her to abandon watch of the window where she had told Sansa to light a candle if she was ever in need of rescuing. Of course, Sansa lit the candle just as Brienne walked away. Brienne found Stannis bleeding out among the slayed corpses of the few men he had left. Brienne explained her intentions to avenge Renly Baratheon and then proceed to slash Oathkeeper in Stannis’ direction. Whether or not she actually killed the dyingrightful King is still uncertain. In Game of Thrones, no one’s dead until you see a body.

How it went down in the books: The last book ended with Stannis and his men in the midst of a blood bath with the Boltons. The conquer of the battle and new occupant of Winterfell has yet to be determined, but judging by how things played out in the finale, the Boltons will likely win. However, in the books, the Boltons were struggling to find men to fight their war. As far as we know, Stannis is still alive and Brienne was nowhere near Winterfell.

Just Jump


How it went down on the show: During Stannis’ attack against Winterfell, Sansa saw an opportunity to send a signal to her friends in the North, letting them know she was in danger. Brienne left her watch before receiving the message. On Sansa’s way back to her chambers, she ran into Theon and Myranda, Ramsay’s lover. Myranda was about to put an arrow through Sansa when Theon pushed her over the ledge and sent her falling to her death. Knowing what Ramsay would do when he found out, Theon took Sansa’s hand and together they jumped over the walls of Winterfell.

How it went down in the books: Shortly before the battle between Bolton and Baratheon, Theon executes a pre-planned mission to save Jeyne Poole (posing as Arya). He takes the girl from her room and moves her swiftly through Winterfell, and up to the top of the wall. That’s when Theon and Jeyne are forced to jump the wall in order to avoid being caught.

The Queen’s Hand


How it went down on the show: Daenerys has flown the coop—literally—leaving Grey Worm, Ser Jorah, Missandei, Daario and Tyrion behind to rule in her absence. Daario and Jorah set out to find their Queen while Missandei, Grey Worm and Tyrion are left behind to lead the people of Meereen in the name of Daenerys Targaryen, and Varys returns just in time to join Tyrion in his new place of power.

How it went down in the books: Tyrion and Jorah have joined the Second Sons, Daario and Grey Worm have been captured by the Yunkai, and Missandei remains in Meereen with Barristan Selmy. Selmy rules in the Queen’s absence.

Kiss of Death


How it went down on the show: Jaime, Bronn, Myrcella and Trystane prepared to leave Dorne and said their farewells to the Martells before boarding a ship. Ellaria Sand apologized to Myrcella and kissed her on the lips. Aboard the ship, Myrcella revealed her knowledge that Jaime was her father, and she was glad. Moments after the reveal, Myrcella’s nose started to bleed and it became obvious that she had been poisoned by Ellaria’s kiss.

How it went down in the books: Myrcella is still in Dorne and the Sand Snakes are locked up in the Sunspear tower for their attempts to use the princess in their vengeful plots against the Lannisters.

For the Watch


How it went down on the show: Olly lures Jon Snow into the courtyard of Castle Black with false news that his Uncle Benjen might still be alive. When he arrives, Jon is cornered by a group of men from the Night’s Watch, including Alliser Thorne. Each man takes a knife, stabs Jon in the chest and belly, and recites, “For the watch.” Jon is left to bleed out in the snow.

How it went down in the books: After receiving a threatening letter from Ramsay Bolton, Jon decides to march on Winterfell and asks the Brothers of the Night’s Watch to march with him. Men of the Watch vow to never take part in wars of the realm and Jon’s track record of breaking his vows (Ygritte) causes the men to become angry with their Lord Commander. That’s when his Brother’s decide to stab him in the courtyard. Allister Thorne is not present at the time of the stabbing.