When a book is being adapted into a television show, many things get lost in translation and have to be changed to fit the different form of media. The age, appearance and storyline of many characters are altered either because they do not translate well to the silver screen or that there is not enough time – or money – to focus on all of the book aspects. We have composed a list of 14 book characters who have several differences from the A Song of Ice and Fire books and the HBO show.
The clever Dwarf of Casterly Rock, Tyrion Lannister, was 24 in A Game of Thrones – the first book on the A Song of Ice and Fire series whereas his onscreen counterpart was 32 years of age in season 1 of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Peter Dinklage – the American actor who portrays him – was 42 years of age when he began filming season 1 of HBO’s Game of Thrones.
In the books, he is described as having short, stunted legs, a swollen forehead, a squashed-in face and eyes of different colours – green and black. He is said to walk with a profound waddle. A part of his nose and upper lip was cut off during the Battle of the Blackwater.
Tyrion Lannister, however, is far better looking that his book counterpart and lacks the somewhat ugly physical features. He does however have a scar after the Battle of the Blackwater that goes across his face.
Unlike his onscreen counterpart, Tyrion Lannister was not accompanied by Varys – the Spider – on his journey across the Narrow Sea to meet the Dragon Queen, Daenerys Targaryen. Although in the A Song of Ice and Fire book series he has not met her yet, he will.
The Kingslayer, Jaime Lannister, was 31 years of age during A Game of Thrones – the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. The onscreen Jaime was 36 during season 1 of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, the Danish actor who portrays him, was 41 when filming season 1 of HBO’s Game of Thrones.
At Joffrey’s funeral in season 4 of HBO’s Game of Thrones, Jaime raped Cersei by their son’s dead body. In A Storm Of Swords – the third book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series – their intercourse is consensual.
Having lost his right hand and – consequently – his sword hand, Jaime meets and trains with Bronn – a sellsword previously loyal to Jaime’s brother, Tyrion Lannister – to regain his swordsman skills. His book counterpart, however, trains with Ser Ilyn Payne instead.
In season 5 of HBO’s Game of Thrones, Jaime Lannister – accompanied by Bronn – went to Dorne to rescue his daughter – Myrcella Baratheon. His book counterpart does not and in fact is sent to Riverrun by Cersei.
Formerly known as “Arry” while pretending to be a boy, the wild daughter of Winterfell – Arya Stark – was only 9 in A Game of Thrones – the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire books, whereas her onscreen counterpart was 2 years older but still young at the age of 11 in HBO’s Game of Thrones. Maisie Williams, the British actress who portrays her, was 14 when filming season 1 of HBO’s Game of Thrones.
She never met Tywin Lannister and served him at Harrenhal like her onscreen counterpart did after being taken there by Ser Amory who captured her and several others; instead she served Roose Bolton while he was there.
While venturing with Sandor “The Hound” Clegane in HBO’s Game of Thrones, Arya Stark encountered Brienne of Tarth and her squire, Podrick Payne, who are on a mission to find Arya and her elder sister – Sansa Stark – who went missing after the murder of King Joffrey Baratheon. HBO’s Game of Thrones saw them cross paths and consequently staged one of the best single combat fights between two of Westeros’ most formidable fighters, which was a great edition to the character arcs as well as being visually intriguing to watch.
Although her onscreen counterpart did not, the book version of Arya Stark met Samwell Tarly – the Nights Watch brother of her cousin, believed to be half-brother, Jon Snow – while in Braavos, though they did not know each other.
Unlike the book version of Arya Stark, the onscreen counterpart ticked a name off of her list when she brutally murdered Ser Meryn Trant while posing as a whore.
The Young Wolf, Robb Stark, was only 14 years of age in the first book – A Game of Thrones – of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series and died at the age of 16 in the third book – A Storm of Swords. In season 1 of HBO’s series Game of Thrones he was 16 and died at the age of 19 in the third season. Richard Madden – the British actor who portrayed the heir of Winterfell – was 25 when he filmed season 1.
Unlike his onscreen counterpart, Robb Stark signed a royal degree to name his cousin, believed to be half-brother – Jon Snow – as his legal successor if he should die. It was unknown what happened to the decree.
In season 2 of HBO’s Game of Thrones, Robb met and married a nurse – Talisa Maegyr – from Volantis. In the third book – A Storm of Swords – Robb slept with Jeyne Westerling, a noble girl from a lesser house loyal to House Lannister, yet married her to protect her honour. She did not attend the Red Wedding and is still alive at Riverrun in the A Song of Ice and Fire books series.
The lovely little bird of Winterfell, Sansa Stark, was aged up – like most of the younger generation of characters – from the age of 11 in A Game of Thrones the age of 13 in Season 1 of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Sophie Turner, the young British actress who portrays her, was 15 when she began filming Season 1 of HBO’s Game of Thrones.
After she reached the Eyrie with Petyr Baelish, she took on the persona of Baelish’s bastard daughter – Alayne Stone – and did not reveal her true identity to the Lords and Ladies of the Vale. She stayed at the Eyrie, unlike her onscreen counterpart who was taken away by Baelish after he murdered her mentally disturbed aunt, Lysa Arryn, by throwing her from the Moon Door.
Due to Sansa not leaving the Vale, she did not meet Brienne of Tarth – who was on a mission to find her and her younger sister, Arya Stark, who had been missing since their father’s execution.
Unlike her onscreen counterpart, she never returned to Winterfell and reunited with Theon Greyjoy – her father’s ward who was beaten and abused so badly he took on the persona of Reek, whom Ramsay created as another form of mental torture. She did not meet the vicious Ramsay Bolton, whom she was married to and cruelly raped by on their wedding night while Theon Greyjoy was forced to watch.
The False King, Joffrey Baratheon, was only 12 years of age in the first book of the A Song of Ice and Fire series – A Game of Thrones – and dies at the age of 15 in book four – A Feast For Crows. Jack Gleeson – the Irish actor who portrayed him – was 19 while filming season 1 of HBO’s Game of Thrones.
In the A Song of Ice and Fire book series, Joffrey Baratheon is not as insolent with his mother – Cersei Lannister – as his onscreen counterpart was.
The onscreen Joffrey Baratheon – after being given two prostitutes by his uncle, Tyrion Lannister, in hopes of him letting out some of his frustrations – forced them to beat each other with objects until he brutally murdered them with a crossbow. That never happened in the A Song of Ice and Fire book series.
Princess Myrcella Baratheon, a golden beauty like her mother, was only 8 years of age in A Game of Thrones – the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. In season 1 of HBO’s Game of Thrones, Myrcella was 11 years old. Nell Tiger Free – the young British actress who was recast to portray her when she became a more prominent character – was 15 during the filming of season 5 of HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Unlike her onscreen counterpart, Myrcella was not in love with Trystane Martell – who was, in fact, three years her senior.
Myrcella never mentions anything about Jaime Lannister being her biological father and not Robert Baratheon, unlike in season 5 of HBO’s Game of Thrones where she revealed to Jaime that she knew all along.
The Sand Snakes did not want to kill her in the A Song of Ice and Fire books, unlike their show counterparts, and in fact wanted to crown her as queen.
She is still alive in the A Song of Ice and Fire book series, unlike on the show where she was poisoned to death and died in her father’s arms.
The Boy King, Tommen Baratheon, was the young age of 7 in A Game of Thrones – the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire book series. He was 10 years old in season 1 of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Dean-Charles Chapman, the young British actor was recast to portray him when he became a more prominent character – was 16 years of age in season 4 of HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Unlike his onscreen counterpart, Tommen Baratheon does not consummate his marriage to the beautiful Margaery Tyrell in the A Song of Ice and Fire books series.
In the A Song of Ice and Fire book series, Tommen is described as being rather cubby in appearance. His onscreen counterpart was rather good looking and had all of the Lannister golden looks.
He was still a rather incompetent ruler in the A Song of Ice and Fire book series but that was due to his adolescence, in the show he was a misguided puppet that was pulled by many different masters.
The Most Beautiful Rose of High Garden, Margaery Tyrell, was at the middle of her teenage years at the age of 14 in A Game of Thrones – the first book of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series. Though her onscreen counterparts age was never specified, Natalie Dormer – the British actress who portrayed her – was double her characters age when she was filming season 2 of HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Unlike her onscreen counterpart who heavily uses her sexuality to get what she wants, Margaery Tyrell never consummated her marriage to Tommen Baratheon who was younger than her.
Although in the A Song of Ice and Fire book series she was arrested, it was not for giving a false testimony for her brother – Loras Tyrell. It was for charges – created and heavily circulated by Cersei Lannister – that she was unfaithful to Tommen. She was later proven to be innocent of the crimes she was accused of and released.
The Knight of Flowers, Ser Loras Tyrell, was in his late teenage years at the age of 17 in A Game of Thrones – the first book of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. While his onscreen counterparts age is not specified, Finn Jones – the British actor who portrayed him – was 23 years of age when filming season 1 of HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Unlike the clearly shown relationship between Loras Tyrell and Renly relationship on HBO’s Game of Thrones, Loras’ relationship with Renly – and Renly’s homosexuality – is hinted at in the A Song of Ice and Fire book series.
Loras is never arrested in the A Song of Ice and Fire books series for his homosexuality, unlike in HBO’s Game of Thrones. He, instead, is sent to lay siege to Dragonstone by Cersei Lannister – who hoped he would die and received reports that he was seriously injured.
Brienne of Tarth
Often referred to as Brienne the Beauty or the Big Woman, Brienne of Tarth was at the end of her teenage years at the age of 18 in A Clash of Kings – the second book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. Her onscreen counterparts age is not specified, Gwendoline Christie – the tall British actress who portrays her – was significantly older than her characters book counterpart at the age of 33 while filming season 2 of HBO’s Game of Thrones.
In the A Song of Ice and Fire book series, Brienne is noted to be rather ugly with swollen lips, a nose that has clearly been broken several times, crooked teeth and brittle hair. Her one redeeming physical feature is her large, blue eyes that her onscreen counterpart has but that is the only facial feature they share. The onscreen Brienne, though made up to look plane, is far from ugly and emanates strength – in both physicality and character.
Unlike her onscreen counterpart, Brienne of Tarth never meet Stannis Baratheon or kills him to avenge Renly Baratheon. Nor does she meet the two Stark girls – Arya and Sansa – or their travelling companions – Sandor “The Hound” Clegane and Petyr Baelish.
In A Dance with Dragons, the fifth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire book series, Brienne was asked by Lady Stoneheart – the revived but zombielike Catelyn Stark – to fetch Jaime Lannister. HBO’s Game of Thrones scraped the Lady Stoneheart storyline.
In the A Song of Ice and Fire book series, the Lord of Storms End and believed to be rightful King of Westeros – Stannis Baratheon – led a campaign to liberate the North. He liberated Deepwood Motte from the Ironborn and decided to liberate Winterfell or die trying.
A stern but fair character in both mediums, the book version of Stannis tends to have a very loyal following compared to the show version. Bound by duty, he doesn’t seek the throne because he wants it, but rather because it is his duty, fair and simple. The show version, played by Stephen Dillane, made him more power hungry, willing to do anything to obtain the throne.
He signs a contract with the Iron Bank, in the A Song of Ice and Fire book series, that if he should die – they should fight to put his daughter on the Iron Throne. His onscreen counterpart allows Melisandre to burn her alive- for her royal blood – to help the staving army whose supplies were taken by Ramsay Bolton and his twenty good men who attack the camp.
The fearsome brother of the Nights Watch who turned wildling and became King Beyond the Wall, Mance Rayder, was burned alive because he would not bend the knee to Stannis Baratheon. To end his suffering, Jon Snow show him with an arrow.
Although in A Dance with Dragons – the fifth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series – Stannis still sentences him to burn, Melisandre – the Red Priestess – uses her magic and swaps Mance with Rattleshirt – the infamous Lord of Bones, who wears human bones as armour – and saves Mance because she thought he would be useful later on, making him still alive in the A Song of Ice and Fire book series.
The bastard of Winterfell and solemn White Wolf, Jon Snow, was aged from being 14 – the beginning of his teenage years – in A Game of Thrones to the age of 16 in Season 1 of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Kit Harrington, the British actor who portrays Jon Snow, was 25 when he began filming Season 1 of HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Jon Snow found Ygritte’s dead body the day after the Battle of the Wall in the A Song of Ice and Fire books series. Their onscreen counterparts looked eyes with each other during the battle just before Olly shot Ygritte through the chest with an arrow. In HBO’s Game of Thrones, she died in Jon’s arms, which made the end of their romantic arc more visually appealing for television.
In the A Song of Ice and Fire book series, Jon Snow resorted to take the Wildlings to attack Winterfell and take it back from the Bolton’s after receiving Ramsay Bolton’s letter. It was seen as a betrayal to the Night’s Watch and was the main reason for his assault. Whether or not he survived the attack is unknown in the A Song of Ice and Fire book series.
His onscreen counterpart was attacked because he allowed the Wildlings through the Wall and died in the courtyard of Castle Black. He was later revived by Melisandre and received the letter after. With encouragement from his cousin, believed to be half-sister – Sansa Stark – he later resorted to take back their ancestral home.
The beautiful and fiery Dragon Queen, Daenerys Targaryen, had some significant changes made to her onscreen counterpart – most notably, her age.
In the first novel of the A Song of Ice and Fire books, A Game of Thrones, she was at the age of 13 – the beginning of her teenage years. She was young, naïve, and always dominated by her psychotic elder brother – Viserys Targaryen. In Season 1 of HBO’s Game of Thrones television show, she was 16 years of age. The change in her age seemed more suitable for the onscreen adaptation of her intimate moments with her husband, Khal Drogo, who was considerably older than she was. The British actress who portrays her, Emilia Clarke, was 25 during the filming of Season 1.
In the A Song of Ice and Fire books, it is noted that Daenerys – as well as her brother and all of the Targaryens – had violet coloured eyes. This was changed onscreen because the emotion in Emilia Clarke’s eyes could not be seen with the violet contacts in. As aesthetically pleasing as her violet eyes would have been, quality acting was definitely the better choice.
Her first moment of intercourse with her husband, Khal Drogo, was consensual in A Game of Thrones whereas in the show, it was not consensual and Daenerys was raped on her wedding night. This may have been changed to emphasize the brutality of Dothraki culture but was still widely debated because of its controversy.
I would say this list is pretty good, but some minor changes:
-First of all, Tyrion wasn’t THAT ugly. He had a squashed face, protruding forehead, mismatched eye of green and black, and his hair and thin beard had patches of hair that was black, while the rest of his hair was whitish blonde. He was ugly, but never truly hideous until he was wounded at the Blackwater and had half his nose chopped off with a long scar running from just below his left eye down through his nose to his right jaw.
-Arya I feel should be a mix of the two pictures. She was very skinny, she had her hair cut short as a disguise, and while not beautiful or ugly, she was called horseface, but also considered pretty if she was clean and dressed properly. She was extremely young however, 9 years old at the start of the first book.
-In the books, it’s said Robb had red-brown Tully hair and a red stubbly attempt of a beard. He was only 14 when he marched south, so he should look much younger. I believe he was about 16 when he died.
-Sansa looks good, but she was only 11 at the start of the books, and she looks about 14-15 in the picture, so I’d say close, but should look younger
-Mance Rayder’s pictures are probably correct as the books say he had mostly grey hair, so he was old, but I never really pictured him as super old, so both pictures just feel wrong to me.
-Finally, Daenerys was 13 when she was given to Khal Drogo. Considering the time frame between the beginning of the first book and the end of A Dance with Dragons is almost 3 years, she should look 16, as that’s when her dragons would be old enough to look scary like that. However, that fan art makes her look 20.
The rest of the fan art all looks very accurate!