The 8 Biggest Differences Between The 'Game Of Thrones' Books And The TV Show

From Aegon Targaryen (who?) to Lady Stoneheart

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Game of Thrones might thrill millions every week, but a small proportion of hardcore fans, aficionados of George RR Martin's original novels, blanch every time the HBO series dares make a change to the sacred text.

The differences are larger and more commonplace than you might expect. Even before the show caught up with the books, it had diverged in a number of major ways.

1. Talisa / Jeyne meets a grim fate

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In Game of Thrones' most infamous scene – the Red Wedding – perhaps the most viscerally horrible moment came when Robb's young wife Talisa (Jeyne Westerling in the books) was stabbed to death through her very pregnant belly.

In the books, Robb takes the more sensible decision to not bring Jeyne to the wedding, and she survives, but the show's Talisa wasn't so lucky. Even in this most brutal of moments, Talisa's graphic fate was perhaps the most shocking.

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2. Lady Stoneheart

Despite fan certainty that Lady Stoneheart would be putting in an appearance on several occasions throughout the series, the show has so far dropped this particular thread.

In the books, the mysterious Lady Stoneheart takes over the band of outlaws once led by Beric Dondarrion, and is eventually revealed to be none other than a resurrected and vengeful Catelyn Stark.

It would be great to have Michelle Fairley back on the show (even under heavy make-up, given she's meant to have had her throat slit and clawed her own eyes out at the sight of her son's murder) but it seems Lady Stoneheart is remaining solely on the page for now.

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3. Jaime is Borne to Dorne

One of the big changes to season five was sending Jaime and Bronn down to Dorne, in an act of streamlining that allowed the series to avoid introducing a host of new characters without having any already established figures to anchor them.

It didn't work so well, as the Dornish scenes were largely the most disappointing aspect of the season, and the show may have been better served sticking with introducing Arianne Martell as a major new player.

That Arianne was skipped also means we miss out on fearsome warrior Darkstar, and a Dornish plot to crown Myrcella – which leads to her taking a sword to the face and losing an ear.

The series may have taken a different route, but it still didn't end well for Jaime's offspring, as she suffered a poison kiss from Ellaria Sand.

4. Sansa suffers Jeyne Poole's fate

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One of the most controversial changes the series made was to conflate Sansa's story with that of Jeyne Poole.

In the books, Jeyne was Sansa's childhood friend at Winterfell, and she's the one forced to marry and endure Ramsay Bolton after his scheming father Roose convinces the realm that she's actually Arya Stark, in an effort to legitimise the Boltons' rule of the North.

Combining stories to bring more characters together isn't a bad idea in principle, but in also transferring Jeyne's rape and abuse onto Sansa, the show not only warped Sansa's story into something drastically different from the books, but also provided more ammunition for those who believe the show relies too heavily on rape as a plot device.

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5. Mance Rayder dies – like, for real

Mance Rayder's death in the series is exactly as it is in the books – except in the books, he doesn't really die...

Having been burnt at the stake and put out of his misery by the mercy of Jon Snow's arrow, it later emerges in the books that the victim was not Mance at all, but rather the Wildling general Rattleshirt, whom Melisandre had used magic to disguise.

Mance (himself concealed as Rattleshirt) is then instrumental in Theon's escape from the Boltons at Winterfell. But even if you watch the burning scene very closely, there's absolutely zero indication of any such deception in the show, and Mance seems to be one of several characters to bite the dust earlier on television.

6. Ser Barristan bites the dust

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Another character whose demise is brought forward on the show is grandfatherly old knight Ser Barristan Selmy, who was slaughtered by the Sons of the Harpy in season five.

Barristan is still hale and hearty as far as the published books go, and in fact, after Danaerys's disappearance on the back of Drogon, Barristan becomes one of the senior figures in Meereen, practically running the city in the Queen's absence.

It's perhaps unlikely that Barristan will survive the book series anyway, and unless George RR Martin has something drastic planned for him in The Winds of Winter, his early death in the show shouldn't prove too much of an obstacle, and it certainly gave book-readers a rare surprise to enjoy.

7. Jojen Reed kicks the bucket

Yet another early demise is somewhat more problematic. Jojen Reed met his end in the season four finale, but given his importance to Bran in the books – his prophetic dreams drive much of this story strand, and will likely continue to do so – it seemed an odd decision to kill him off.

This was the first major death the show pulled off that wasn't in the books, and if nothing else, at least that divergence made it that much easier for fans to view the two different versions of this story – books and TV series – as entirely separate.

8. Aegon Targaryen lives

One of the most surprising developments in book five, 2011's A Dance with Dragons, was the reveal that Prince Aegon Targaryen was alive.

Supposedly dashed against a wall by The Mountain as a baby, Aegon was – it appears, at least – secretly whisked away by Varys and placed in the hands of several trusted allies to educate him in the ways of the world, and to prepare him to reclaim the throne for House Targaryen.

Not only does the presence of another Targaryen further muddy the line of succession to the Iron Throne (Dany may not be too pleased), it also gives us a proper answer as to just what Varys and his schemes have been in aid of all this time.

It seems like it may have been one development too far for the show though, as there's no indication of the series covering it.

From: Digital Spy