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The HBO show made perhaps its most controversial divergence from the books yet, having Sansa (Sophie Turner) marry the sadistic Ramsay (Iwan Rheon), who in a disturbing scene forced her to consummate their marriage while Theon/Reek (Alfie Allen) watched. In the books, Ramsay marries a different character, a girl posing as Sansa’s sister Arya.
In a blog post, Martin wrote that fans had begun emailing him and commenting on his website to share their displeasure about the divergence form the book, and also that a beloved character like Sansa was subjected to such abuse.
“How many children did Scarlett O’Hara have? Three, in the novel. One, in the movie. None, in real life: she was a fictional character, she never existed. The show is the show, the books are the books; two different tellings of the same story,” Martin wrote.
He went on to repeat what he has said in the past — that small changes in past seasons are beginning to have a butterfly effect.
“There have been differences between the novels and the television show since the first episode of season one,” Martin wrote. “And for just as long, I have been talking about the butterfly effect. Small changes lead to larger changes lead to huge changes. HBO is more than forty hours into the impossible and demanding task of adapting my lengthy (extremely) and complex (exceedingly) novels, with their layers of plots and subplots, their twists and contradictions and unreliable narrators, viewpoint shifts and ambiguities, and a cast of characters in the hundreds.”
Martin went on to defend HBO, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss and co-producer Bryan Cogman, who penned the episode, writing they are “trying to make the best television series that they can.”
Martin is an co-executive producer on the show but does not have to approve divergences from the book. The show began diverging from the books more in season four, when it revealed what the White Walkers did with Craster’s (Robert Pugh) sacrificed sons, something that has yet to be addressed in the books. Fans have worried the series will spoil the ending of Martin’s book series, because it is all but certain to conclude before he publishes his planned seventh and final volume. Book six, The Winds of Winter, is expected to be published no sooner than 2016, while the showrunners have maintained they expect the series to end after seven seasons.
“Two roads diverging in the dark of the woods, I suppose … but all of us are still intending that at the end we will arrive at the same place,” Martin wrote. “In the meantime, we hope that the readers and viewers both enjoy the journey. Or journeys, as the case may be. Sometimes butterflies grow into dragons.”
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.
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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier