A Feast for Crows Dragons Winter ????

I don't even know anymore

22nd June 2015

The following is a review of the fifth series of Game of Thrones and as such will contain spoilers. If you don't like that, turn back. It will also contain book spoilers.

Well. That was interesting.

I mentioned that last season of Game of Thrones was contentious for changing the source material. I now realise that I was nothing but a sweet summer child, blissfully unaware of what was to come.

And in truth, I didn't like it.

Some changes needed to be made, of course. A Feast For Crows was a slow-burning book, and the chronological knot between it and A Dance With Dragons meant that difficulties were bound to occur when transferring it to the screen. But they did not need to be as drastic as they were.

Some made sense. Bronn accompanying Jaime on his quest over Ilyn Payne, both due to Wilko Johnson's health and because although conversation with a mute works on paper, it may not make the most thrilling television. The excitement furthered when we were due to see Dorne and its prince, but alas, the whole storyline was completely butchered. Instead of the sand snakes cutting Myrcella's face, D&D decided to jump straight to death, which they seem increasingly eager to do - more on that later - and it seems the Dornish plot to get a Targaryen on the iron throne has been completely cut, so Doran Martell has gone from strategic mastermind in the guise of a weak, fearful coward to just a weak, fearful coward. Where is our justice? Our vengeance? Our fire and blood?

Going back to death. The series is well known for its brutal lack of remorse in killing off its major characters, but when you do so at such a high rate, it starts to lose the effect. Barristan, for example. There was no reason for him to die, save for shock value. Nearly every major death in the books serves the plot. Barristan's does not. Even more so is Mance Rayder's seemingly real death. There is a huge chunk of story completely and utterly removed by this death, and the show suffers for it.

Sansa being married off to and raped by the twisted Ramsay Bolton was done purely for shock value, where she should instead be starting to grow into herself as a more well-rounded, strong adult. And furthermore, what in the ever-living fuck is their obsession with Ramsay Bolton? They've made him appear to be some kind of strategic mastermind. Last season, he defeated an entire army of ironborn merely shirtless and with a few dogs. This season, he's taken down the entire army of the most celebrated general in Westeros history, Stannis Baratheon (who, in a complete reversal of character, has suddenly decided to burn his own daughter). I feel that when the Winds of Winter comes around, Stannis may well lose his battle for Winterfell, but the way the show uncompromisingly praises a character who is supposed to be nothing more than a cruel maniac is a little disconcerting.

Ultimately, though, the biggest problem with the season is the pacing. It rushes through a hundred different storylines that took the best part of two whole books to unfold, and whilst admittedly both Feast and Dance included a lot of drivelly waffle that could have been cut, they have reduced the content by far too much. I feel at the very least that considering they have now reached the ends of Dance and indeed started the Winds of Winter in parts of the story, they probably should at least have kept Bran's story in, and the Iron islanders - basically, there's a hell of a lot missing.

Let's round up with the positives, though, because there were many - the new battle at Hardhome was nothing short of epic, and Cersei's walk of shame was handled magnificently... as was the reveal of 'Ser Robert Strong', aka The Mountain, aka CLEGANEBOWL GET HYPE. They did Arya's storyline justice and it made more sense for her to kill Meryn Trant as opposed to a random deserter from the Night's Watch for her to lose her sight. The House of Black and White is more awe-inspiring than I had imagined and Arya's story feels like it's exactly where it should be, unlike the rest of the cast. Seeing Valyria was also incredible, even if it was short lived.

Really though, I now just want the Winds of Winter. Next season will overtake the books by some distance and I would rather read Martin's untouched version before I watch the one that HBO are slowly pulling apart. I didn't think I would be such a book purist, but it seems that perhaps I am.