For Book Readers, Season Six Of Game Of Thrones Was Worth It

The season six finale of Game of Thrones was one of the strongest hours in television history, a relentless episode that burnt up loose ends and set the stage for the show's future. It capped off an excellent season and spent as little time as possible in Dorne. I'm glad I watched it. SPOILERS FOR GAME OF THRONES, ETC.

Before this season started, longtime fans of George RR Martin's book series were stuck with an unpleasant choice: Should they keep watching the show, which was about to outpace the books and tell parts of the Westeros story that Martin had yet to reveal, or should they plug their ears and spend the year trying to avoid spoilers, a near-impossible proposition if you use Twitter? Season five had kinda sucked thanks to a number of meandering plots in Dorne, Meereen and Arya's assassin school, so for book readers who wanted to experience Martin's story in the best way possible, it was a shitty dilemma.

Fortunately, season six of Game of Thrones turned out to be the show's best to date. Unshackled by source material, HBO showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss killed some of Game of Thrones' most convoluted threads and consolidated others, putting together ten episodes of killer TV. Swiftly and surely, they chopped off Dorne's head, brought Jon back to life and set gears moving for scenes fans had wanted to see for many years. They mutilated Ramsay Bolton, baked some Freys and set the Sparrows on fire. They even got Dany to Westeros — and they didn't need five years to untangle a Meereenese knot first.

In other words, it felt like television. There were resolutions. Proper narrative arcs. Rather than barrage us with gut-punches and dissonance the way Martin's books so often do, Game of Thrones aimed for fan satisfaction, and it worked. Only R'hllor knows how many of these plot points will look the same in The Winds of Winter — and how much Martin is changing because of the show — but this season was so captivating, it's hard to complain. Despite some predictability, or maybe even because of some predictability, season six of Game of Thrones made for killer TV.

There were just so many memorable moments. Jon gasping back to life. Arya grinning as she murders Walder Frey. Hodor's time-warped last stand. The Great Sept of Baelor exploding in a pillar of green flame. Tyrion finally finding purpose. Jaime being snarky. Bran getting ripped to pieces by the Night King as karma for fucking up Hodor's entire life. (I may have made that last one up.)

Granted, it would have been nice to read the the revelation of Jon's real parents before watching it on TV. The show robbing George RR Martin from getting to reveal one of his own biggest mysteries was the type of devious twist we might see on... well, you know. Longtime book readers have come to realise something, though. Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire now occupy entirely different spaces. The former is satisfying television. The latter is — and hopefully will continue to be — rich, complicated, nuanced story-telling that will subvert our expectations in interesting ways no matter how it's done on TV.

Now, for those of us who have been reading the books for two decades, there's nothing left to do but wait for George R.R. Martin to update his LiveJournal.


Comments

    Game of Thrones has been on the air less time than fans have been waiting for The Winds of Winter. GRRM has had plenty of time to reveal R+L=J and the show could not possibly wait any longer

      Everyone had worked it out already though.

        I have some friends who haven't read the books and don't read anything online and I think some of them still don't get it. Like they understand Jon is Lyanna's child but don't fully appreciate the implications that he's Rhaegar's son, or that Lyanna was with Rhaegar willingly as opposed to the kidnap/rape narrative pushed by Robert (who was probably aware of the truth but in denial because he loved Lyanna and felt he deserved her love in return).
        It seems obvious to me but I already knew, along with most of the internet. I wonder how people who literally have only seen the show are responding to the revelation.

          Don't people talk to each other about the show? I have discussed this and had it be presented to me by a bunch of people.

    Schreier's sounding a bit petty in this and his other complaint GOT pieces but most GOT book-readers probably think the same way he has - a loathing or disdain for the season that leap-frogged the actual books, but all is forgiven now the season can be looked at as a contained story.

    I'm someone who started the books after the show started, and stayed away from the show. I'm glad everybody can get an equal sort of pay-off after that finale, but yeah I'm still going to buy and read the books because I've followed those characters from the outset.

    I'll repeat and expand on this in the inevitable multiple other articles about the finale today, but maybe it's because I'm used to the books taking their time and detailing the world and the journeys the characters must take - can't believe Varys can zip from continent to continent that damn fast. He's just about the most mysterious and powerful character in the whole damn thing.

      I don't understand the complaints about people zipping around so quickly. Weeks or months would have passed from when Varys left Mereen to when The ships were all repainted, made ready, battle plans drawn up, provisions laid in etc. etc.
      Each story has its own timescale, just because a few days passes in one, it doesn't mean months didn't pass in the other.

        Admittedly the show does a pretty terrible job of demonstrating time is passing when Varys leaves for Dorne in episode 8 for a brief cameo in episode 10 then back to Mereen in time to sail for Westeros again for the final scene - and in previous seasons when it seemed that Littlefinger was zipping up and down the coast in a lambo it really seemed like a valid complaint, he was making a journey that was supposed to take months while relatively little was happening to everyone else.
        This season though we had Varys leaving Mereen to sail for Dorne - in between we had Jon Snow's wildling/northerner army take Winterfell with the help of the Vale, Daenerys return from Vaes Dothrak with her new Khalasar in tow, the stolen Greyjoy fleet arrive in Mereen and negotiate an alliance with Danerys, etc. It's been a very compressed timeline the last 2 or 3 eps, but it's fairly consistent with itself.

        Last edited 28/06/16 9:28 am

          One of the books even makes mention of this at the start saying that it's spread over years and not all events are happening at the same time as it jumps between characters.

            That's books 4 and 5. GRRM only wrote chapters for about half the POV characters before completing a whole book so he had the first half of book 5 run concurrently with book 4 with the other half of the characters, then about halfway through he reintroduces the book 4 plotlines again. This was mainly an error on his part because he wanted to age the surviving Stark characters a bit by having the books jump forward five years after the events of the Red Wedding, but halfway through writing the book realised it didn't really make sense for nothing to have happened to any of the other characters in that five year span.

            Besides, it's still not something the show does a very good job of addressing.

            Last edited 28/06/16 10:29 am

    Dying gets Jon out of his Night's Watch committments if nothing else.

    DUDE ON THE LEFT LOOKS LIKE A MINOTAUR

    Now we know why it is called Kings Landing too. Just like how Jon's direwolf is called Ghost.

    Well played GRRM.

    Speak for yourself. The last two episodes were fun TV and we got some big revelations, but the dialogue, pacing and plotholes have gotten noticeably worse in the past few seasons. Plus all the "good TV" moments like Rickon JUST getting to Jon before dying, Lancel JUST getting the candle before it blows, Wun Wun getting shot in the eye by Ramsay at the perfect moment are just cheesy and make the show too predictable IMO.

    Having said that, my season ranking would probably go 1>3>6>4>5>2

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