The last few episodes of season 5 have forced us to ask the question: just how much speculation can we rely on concerning the future of the books? Theoretically, both D&D and GRRM are heading towards the same end-game, even if the methods of getting there are diverging.
Do we take episode 4, “The Sons of the Harpy”, in which there were some serious insinuations that R+L=J is a rational and possible truth, as a solid connection for the future of the novels? What are we to make of the unexpected deaths of characters we previously assumed were going to be important? And what about that crazy glimpse of Craster’s Sons from last season?
We’re hurtling towards the final showdown for Westeros, with constantly shifting players and alliances. So at what point must we separate the events of show and book? Obviously there are many differences already, and they grow more frequent and surprising as we begin to surpass the canon of the books.
I have always maintained a fairly clear distinction between show and book–I might whine for a few minutes (or…hours) about a deviation that I didn’t agree with, but all in all both are enjoyable on their own right, and paced for their respective medium. We’ve been told in several different instances that the show is going to diverge, is going to do its’ own thing, deviating from the book’s plot and carrying itself to new heights, but we’ve also (and recently) been assured that D&D know where it’s all leading and are following that rough trajectory.
This leads me to believe that, while I can’t help but be hopeful that some revelations in the show may become the truth of the novel as well, everything must be taken with a grain of salt. We truly don’t know how closely the show intends to follow the planned plotline of the books, or even how much further the show or the books plan to take events. As more things happen that have not yet taken place in the books, however, it becomes a bit harder to look at the two as separate entities. Especially if we’re assuming that D&D are heading towards the same end game as George R R Martin, since that requires all the main players to advance in roughly the same direction. It leaves us a little unsure. Does the exclusion of a certain character, whose importance is yet undetermined in the novel, mean that they are insignificant after all? Does the death of a character still kicking in the world of Ice and Fire determine their lack of importance?
It’s a dangerous game we’re playing, and a fairly unprecedented situation. Usually the original source is well ahead of the adaptation, clarifying the relationship between the two, since it is far easier to tell if the adaptation is faithfully canon compliant or if it’s simply a “based on”. Though I openly admit to having a smaller frame of reference than probably needed, the only example of a similar situation we could come up with here at NDS was the Scott Pilgrim film, since the final graphic novel had not been released at the time of production. That led to a marked plot deviation that may not have occurred as such had the last installment been on shelves.
In any case, as the show surpasses the events of the novel, we’re already feeling the need to don our tinfoil hats and push our wild speculation on any and all who might be willing to listen. It’s a tough existence. I’m not above begging for scraps, really. Just….more Game of Thrones, please.