HBO’s Game of Thrones

Book Characters We Wish Appeared on HBO’s Game of Thrones

We fully understand that when adapting novels for television, cuts will be necessary. This is especially true when the work being adapted is a series as sprawling as A Song of Ice and Fire—even George R.R. Martin has a hard time keeping track of his characters. While we agree with some of the changes (using Jaqen H’ghar instead of the Kindly Man) and are grateful for the inclusion of characters we assumed would be cut (Wun Wun!!), there are some personalities that we still miss.

Seemingly unimportant side characters provide so much richness and color to the world of A Song of Ice and Fire, something that seems to get lost in the translation from the page to the small screen. Whether they be sellswords with lisps, prophetic fools, or a startlingly prescient raven, they are characters that bring the world to life. Here are just a few that we think would enrich an already colorful adaptation…

Note: We acknowledge that some of these characters may still appear in the show at some point.

 

Donal Noye

hammer

Major Plotline: Jon Snow at Castle Black
First Appearance: A Game of Thrones
Last Appearance: A Storm of Swords

Why We Miss Him: First, Donal is a one-armed blacksmith that killed Mag the Mighty, which is awesome. As much as we love show!Grenn and his prowess at fighting Giants, just imagine Jon’s conversation with Mance if Donal were actually the Giant slayer? (You do have to imagine a bit, since it’s actually Tormund that has this conversation with Jon.) But Donal is awesome for other reasons as well. He was previously a soldier and blacksmith for House Baratheon (so yes, he forged King Robert’s warhammer), joining the Night’s Watch after losing an arm at the Siege of Storm’s End. We are introduced to him through Jon’s troubled entry into the Watch. It’s Donal (not Tyrion) that gives Jon advice about recognizing his privileged upbringing, ultimately leading to Jon becoming buddies with his fellow recruits (well…most of them…). Donal also has one of the most memorable quotes about the Baratheon brothers (“Robert was the true steel. Stannis is pure iron, black and hard and strong, yes, but brittle, the way iron gets. He’ll break before he bends. And Renly, that one, he’s copper, bright and shiny, pretty to look at but not worth all that much at the end of the day.”). This quote has provided fodder for much fan analysis. Moreover, Donal leads the Night’s Watch against Mance’s Free Folk siege, before giving command of the Wall to Jon Snow and dying while fighting Mag the Mighty.

TL;DR: Donal is great and his presence gives a little something extra to the story. There are not many featured characters from outside the noble world that are able to forge (yes, we went there) their own paths and command respect from their peers, but Donal did all of it. And his teachings and guidance continue to affect Jon even after his death.

 

Mormont’s Raven

corn

Major Plotlines: Jon Snow at Castle Black, Bran and Bloodraven (possibly)
First Appearance: A Game of Thrones

Why We Miss Him: Corn! Corn? CORN! Lord Commander Mormont’s raven feels integral to the fabric of the story at the Wall, flapping his wings into most of the major moments. He is there when Jon Snow finds out that Bran will live after his fall, repeating “live” over and over. He’s there to screech “Burn!” at Jon when he is fighting off Othor, seemingly knowing that it would take fire to destroy the wight. He is there when Sam is trying to get Jon elected as the next Lord Commander, calling out “Snow, Snow, Snow” and landing on Jon’s shoulder in a flutter of dramatics, helping him to win the election. He is there to tell Sam to “obey” when Jon instructs him to travel to Oldtown to become a Maester. And, of course there was the moment that he muttered “corn” and “King” and “Snow, Jon Snow, Jon Snow”. All of these moments add up to suggest that Mormont’s raven may be something or someone more entirely. If the prevailing theory is true, then a certain three-eyed-crow (or raven as the show would have us call him), named Bloodraven, might be using Mormont’s raven to keep tabs on the Night’s Watch and Jon Snow as well, suggesting, as many of us already believe, that there is much more for Jon yet to do. Considering he just woke up from his little “death nap” last week, he is certainly on his way to do so.

Bloodraven and skinchanging aside though, Mormont’s raven is generally just fun, at his best when annoying his masters, begging for corn. One scene we love is when he wakes Jon up, landing on his chest and shouting “Snow” in his face repeatedly until he gets up, causing Jon to request a bit of “roast raven” for breakfast when Dolorous Edd comes asking. It is these moments that brighten a potentially bleak reading experience and we wish that at least once on the show, we could have heard a raven cry out, “CORN!”

 

Val

norse

Major Plotline: Jon Snow at Castle Black
First Appearance: A Storm of Swords

Why We Miss Her: Where to begin with Val? Just to recap—she’s the sister of Dalla, Mance Rayder’s partner, and appears to be respected by the Free Folk in her own right (hello! She was able to safely reach Tormund Giantsbane and get him to return to the Wall to negotiate with Jon). After the battle at Castle Black, Stannis takes her prisoner and she remains at Castle Black until Jon releases her to find Tormund (see above). During A Dance with Dragons (and some parts of A Storm of Swords), Val is our eyes to the Free Folk culture, and she acts a teacher/advisor for Jon. She freely speaks her mind and stands up to Jon (and everyone else) when needed. Even though she has no wealth, noble blood, or property, she is still able to exert influence on the Northern storyline. Aside from Karsi’s brief run in Season 5’s “Hardhome,” the show has not shown female Free Folk leaders. By removing Val from the storyline, the show has missed an opportunity to accurately portray Free Folk culture and Jon’s growing affinity for it (and their growing admiration for him—Tormund is not his only Free Folk friend!). Moreover, it’s through interactions with awesome women like Val (and Alys Karstark, another omitted character) that Jon begins to have an increasingly progressive view of gender roles (at least by Westerosi standards). And as an aside… anyone else think that Val already considers herself stolen by Jon?

 

Lady Stoneheart

stoneheart

Major Plotline: House Stark vengeance (primarily in the Riverlands)
First Appearance: Storm of Swords

Why We Miss Her: Catelyn Stark was murdered at the Red Wedding and her body was tossed in the river and retrieved by Arya/Nymeria. The Brotherhood Without Banners found her, and she was resurrected by Beric Dondarrion as Lady Stoneheart. Due to her wounds and time in the river, she was no longer the beauty she once was and had developed a taste for vengeance in ways that the living Catelyn Stark would never have dreamed (or wanted—arguably). In order to avenge her family, she took the lead of the Brotherhood and had them kill anyone who she believed was guilty and responsible for the murders of her family—namely Lannisters, Freys, and Boltons. Catelyn was very protective of her family in life, but in death she took it to a whole other extreme. As of the third episode in season 6, the show has not resurrected Catelyn Stark and it seems like the moment has probably passed. Why do we care? Well for one, it seems that Arya’s storyline is likely tied to Stoneheart. It’s no coincidence that it was Nymeria that pulled her from the river, and Nymeria continues to stay in the same geographic area. What is the point of resurrecting Catelyn if she isn’t reunited with one of her kids at some point? Arya seems like a good bet, since her storyline (thus far) is so tied with vengeance. Seeing what has happened to her mother may be the wakeup call that she needs; vengeance is not always the answer (and this seems to be a theme GRRM is going for).

Lady Stoneheart also helps drive plot developments with Brienne and Jaime. In A Feast for Crows, Stoneheart and her not so merry men capture Brienne, Podrick Payne, and a very confused Hyle Hunt. Noticing that Oathkeeper bears the Lannister Lion, she calls Brienne a traitor and sentences all of them to die. We know Brienne does not die, because in A Dance with Dragons, she finds Jaime Lannister in the Riverlands and convinces him to join her (where they go or what they do next is something we will only learn when The Winds of Winter finally arrives—we hope!). Without Lady Stoneheart in the show, the writers have had to create really horribly thought out plot diversions for these characters (e.g., Jaime in Dorne? Brienne just hanging out near Winterfell?). It was a misuse of these characters, though it seems both are being better utilized this season. Moreover (and more selfishly), with no Stoneheart, we cannot count on the show to give us answers about what happens with Brienne and Jaime! She brought them back together, but the future plans are unknown. Brienne is the only one who believes in Jaime, and he trusts her above anyone else. Did Brienne tell him the truth of why she came to find him? Will she betray him and be the cause of his death? So many questions for the book readers, but answers we won’t be getting from the show.

 

Arianne Martell

martelly

Major Plotline: The Queenmaker Plot
First Appearance: A Feast for Crows

Why We Miss Her: Arianne is the daughter of Doran Martell, his eldest child and heir (Dornish law allows first-borns to inherit, regardless of gender). Myrcella Baratheon was sent to live in Dorne by her uncle Tyrion to be betrothed to Arianne’s youngest brother, Trystane. Arianne feels her father is weak and has not been doing enough to avenge her uncle Oberyn after his death by the hands of the Mountain. Due to a document she found when she was younger, she believes her father is going to push her aside and name her younger brother Quentyn as his heir in her place. Arianne is outraged that Myrcella is not named queen after Joffrey’s death and skipped over for the much younger, kitty-loving, Tommen. Based on Dornish law, Arianne plans to kidnap Myrcella and have her crowned Queen, but her plans go awry. Arianne’s plan is betrayed, her lover killed, Myrcella loses an ear, and Arianne is taken prisoner. Later, she learns that her father does not intend to replace her as heir; he actually intends for her to become Queen of the Seven Kingdoms (“Vengeance. Justice. Fire and blood.”).

A lot has already been written about why Arianne’s omission is so frustrating and heart-breaking, so we will keep it brief. There are few places in Westeros where women can rule outright. Arianne was replaced by several nearly identical characters, all of whom are portrayed as blood-thirsty nutcakes (book!Ellaria is weeping). Sigh.

 

Ser Gerold Dayne AKA Darkstar

Major Plotline: The Queenmaker Plot
First Appearance: A Feast for Crows

Why we miss him: While we certainly love all the members of House Dayne (yes, we cheered when Arthur Dayne was actually in S6E3) we actually miss the unintentionally hilarious Darkstar the most. Yes, he isn’t as tragic as Ashara or as widely respected as his cousin Arthur Dayne, the wielder of Dawn, but he IS infamous. The show often cuts some of our favorite lines from the book and Darkstar has some of the best. Behold:

darkstar

This cringeworthy line isn’t even the worst thing he’s ever done. Gerold is also the guy responsible for chopping off Princess Myrcella’s ear and therefore the unraveller of Arianne Martell’s Queenmaker Plot. Arianne instantly regretted using him as “the muscle” in this particular plan and as of A Dance with Dragons Darkstar is on the run from both the Martells and the Lannisters. Who knew they could agree on anything? Darkstar lives in the shadow of his deceased cousin Arthur, known as the Sword of the Morning, and it doesn’t look like the sword Dawn was passed on to Gerold. The current wielder of Dawn is unknown, but its absense explains Darkstar’s blustering and generally poor behavior and his identification with opposing motifs; he feels he is the overlooked warrior in the family and it adds to his ego that he’s considered very attractive. (Although, votes still out on that. Darkstar seems to have emerged from the same part of George R. R. Martin’s brain that birthed Daario. A foppy, ’80s metal band incarnation of male virility.) When Darkstar isn’t Batmanning his way around Dorne and wooing women with his violet eyes, he’s a swaggering, poisonous snake that thinks knifing a girl in the face is a smart political move. You’re dumb, Darkstar, but you’re so pretty. We miss you.

 

Genna Lannister Frey

genna

Major Plotline: The Siege of Riverrun
First Appearance: A Feast for Crows

Why We Miss Her: Genna Lannister Frey, sister to Tywin and Kevan, may be one of the biggest catalysts for character development for House Lannister. It is through her existence, brief as it may be, that we begin to peel back the armor that the elder generations of Lannisters have been wearing since the beginning of this series.

In A Feast for Crows, Genna immediately distinguishes herself as a force to be reckoned with (like the rest of her family). Married at the age of seven to Emmon Frey, a lesser son of Lord Walder, Genna spent her life negotiating the sticky terrain of being a noble woman in power. She is the head of her sect of the Frey clan, making most the decisions (marital, martial, or otherwise.) Two of her sons died during the War of Five Kings. (The show character Alton Lannister, whom Jaime Lannister kills in the second season during his ill-fated escape attempt, was modeled after Genna’s eldest son Cleos.) When Riverrun was besieged by the Lannisters after the Red Wedding, she and her husband traveled to the castle as the newly raised stewards. It is she, however, not Lord Emmon, who is made a part of Jaime’s war council when he is sent there to take command.

While she very clearly has the Lannister tactical competence, intelligence, and ruthlessness, she is also human in a way that her brothers never allowed themselves to be. In her private discussions with Jaime during the siege, we learn that Tywin was, in fact, a protective big brother to her. He was the only member of the family to fight against her betrothal to Lord Emmon, believing it a terrible match. It is clear from her relationship with Tywin’s children that they remained close throughout their lives. She was the only maternal figure that the twins and Tyrion had growing up. During her conversations with Jaime, we see that she holds a deep affection and pride for all of them.

Genna’s steel core and gentle honesty is a direct contrast to the only other female Lannister we have met thus far, Cersei. These are all traits, however, that are implied throughout the text to be shared by Cersei’s mother, Joanna. By Genna’s very presence in the story, we begin to fill in the gap left by Joanna in the Lannister family. The death of their matriarch damaged these characters beyond recognition, but in Genna’s one major scene, we begin to shine a light on aspects of their personalities heretofore concealed by decades of scar tissue.

Thus far, the show has not explored the Siege at Riverrun, nor has there been any indication that Genna will make an appearance in their version of the story. The loss of her ability to humanize Tywin, open the Lannister family out of its incestuous, isolated dynamic, and offer insight into the childhoods of Cersei, Jaime, and Tyrion would be a real blow. If the show does decide to follow this storyline, we can only hope that she will be a character that we won’t have to miss for long.

 

Marwyn The Mage

gandalfdance

Major Plotlines: Samwell Tarly at the Citadel, Daenerys Targaryen in Essos
First Appearance: A Feast for Crows

Why We Miss Him? Known to keep company with the seedy underbelly of Oldtown and an archmaester of the citadel, Marwyn is the closest person the series has to a Gandalf the Grey.

Marwyn has only briefly appeared in the novels, but we are still hoping the show will include him. He opens the door to a whole range of magical possibilities, and, as fantasy fans, we always want more magic. While on a sabbatical (yes they have those in Westeros), Marwyn traveled to the east where he searched for lost books of magic and trained with warlocks and shadowbinders. After being informed about Daenerys Targaryen fulfilling the Azor Ahai Prophecy, he has left Oldtown to give Daenerys a copy of How to Train Her Dragons. They don’t call him “Marwyn the Mage” for nothing.

 

Jon Connington

joncon

Major Plotline: Helping “Aegon” to reclaim his birthright (also known as the Mummer’s dragon)
First Appearance: A Dance With Dragons

Why We Miss Him: Someone always has to get greyscale. On the show, Jorah Mormont stole this unenviable fate, the disease currently working its way up his arm and likely to begin causing some problems for the man in sweat and bloodstained yellow. In the books, however, it is Jon Connington that suffers this fate. The two have other similarities beyond a future life as a stoneman though, languishing in the friendzone as their unrequited love for a Targaryen threatens to destroy their lives. For Jorah, it is Daenerys, but for Jon Connington, it was her older brother Rhaegar that he loved. Jon Connington, Lord of Griffin’s Roost, was Rhaegar’s best friend, but he would have done anything for his “silver prince,” something that has led him down a dangerous and tragic path.

Quick recap: Named one of the Mad King’s many Hands during Robert’s Rebellion, Jon failed to kill the usurper during the Battle of the Bells and was exiled from his homeland, turning to the Golden Company, a sellsword company started by the Blackfyres and intent on returning a rightful heir to the throne so they can return home. At this point in the story, a “rightful heir” seems to include any Targaryen, as seen when Varys brought Jon Connington an offer he could not refuse. He gave him the chance to raise Rhaegar’s infant son, Aegon, meant to have died by the Mountain’s hand, but supposedly secretly squirreled away by the Spider to pass into Jon’s waiting hands. Since then, Jon disgraced himself with the Golden Company, faked his death, dyed his hair blue (something that never would have taken place on the show anyway considering their aversion to blue haired people), and set about raising the son of the man he had loved and lost, training him to become a future king. From there, their story intertwines with Tyrion’s as they all travel toward Volantis and the clever Lannister discovers their true identities. Tyrion’s influence sends the pair toward Westeros sooner than they’d planned, which was a bit of a shocking turn of events but a welcome one as it seems as though Daenerys will never actually cross the Narrow Sea. It was nice to bring some part of the Targaryen plot back to the continent we were all invested in.

Now the real tragedy of Jon Connington comes with the niggling suspicion that Aegon is not who he appears to be. No matter which theory you subscribe to on his true identity, the idea that Jon Connington spent his whole life loving Rhaegar, whose love he would never have returned even before he was killed, only to wreck what was left of that life to look after his “son” AND get greyscale saving a depressed Tyrion Lannister (who had previously outed their identities and forced him to enact his plan sooner), only to have that “son” turn out to be fake after all, might just be one of the cruelest fates George RR Martin has written for a character. If Aegon is a fake (and he totally is), Jon would then be left to feel like he had wasted his life and still be doomed to die a slow death as a stoneman, while possibly spreading greyscale throughout Westeros in the process.

So, why do we miss such a horribly tragic character? Besides offering more representation as another gay character in the novels, he is a character that connects the past and the present in a new way than characters like Ned or Robert did in earlier on in the novels, being firmly on the Targaryen side and offering us a glimpse into the man Rhaegar was that no one else can. Plus, he and Aegon’s presence ties in the Dornish storyline and gives it a new purpose going into future books, something which the aimless show version could certainly use.

 

Wyman Manderly

pie

Major Plotline: The North Remembers!
First Appearance: A Clash of Kings

Why We Miss Him: Frey Pie…enough said.

Hello, we are Fire and Lunch! Five years ago, a bunch of superfans came together to celebrate their favorite book series over food, and the rest is history. You can find our in-depth analysis (complete with POP-toy gifs) of Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire, and other fantasy series on tumblr and twitter. If you’re into fast talking, intelligent discourse, and some pretty deep geek humor, check out our podcast, The Piecast.

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