Game of Thrones Season 4 Book Differences That Worked

Return of the Ironborn
Return of the Ironborn

The Game of Thrones series is no stranger to changes and differences from the books that inspired them. Many of these changes have been poorly received by fans of the original books as well as audiences only familiar with the TV show—namely because they either don’t work at all, alter the narrative in a significant way, or take away from the original characterization of certain figures from the books. But not all change is bad! There are actually some changes from the books that have worked very well in the series—too many to name as a whole, so let’s just take a look at some of the differences that worked from season 4.

Shae and Tyrion’s Relationship

Kerry Ingram as 'Shireen Baratheon' in Game of Thrones
Kerry Ingram as ‘Shireen Baratheon’ in Game of Thrones

In the books, Shae is almost the equivalent of a NPC–the readers are never given any chapters or passages from her point of view that would give them a glimpse of her true feelings, and there is no point in the books that Shae is depicted as being in love with Tyrion or caring for him beyond what she is paid to do. The show, however, took a different approach with Shae and actually developed her character much more–she is shown to care for Sansa even though she is jealous of her, she is shown visiting Tyrion even when he isn’t paying for her services, and it is clear that she does have feelings for her employer. This makes her betrayal more complex and interesting than in the books, because not only is Shae likely afraid for her life due to no longer being protected by the arrested Tyrion, there is an element of hurt and betrayal behind her testimony as well.

Brienne vs. the Hound

Game of Thrones has seen some pretty great fight scenes throughout its four seasons, but season 4’s battle between Brienne and the Hound is perhaps the best fight scene that wasn’t directly from or inspired by scenes in the original books. In this scene, Brienne and the Hound fight over who has the right to protect Arya Stark—although Arya, who flees, doesn’t seem to care either way about who wins or loses. The scene is brilliantly choreographed, features two of the toughest characters in the entire series, and was a refreshing new scene that book fans didn’t expect and TV fans definitely loved.

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