Jon Snow is barely seen, no Bran (which makes his not being in an entire season of the show make more sense) and no Tyrion. George RR Martin decided to split the 4th and 5th books into events close to Kingslanding and events not close to Kingslanding, which is a choice. So we focused on Jaime, Sam, Sansa, Arya, Cersei (who finally gets to narrate!), Brienne (who also gets to narrate), whatever is going on in the Iron Islands, and the Dornish drama.
Let’s start with Cersei. Girl is crazy paranoid! We eventually find out that when she was a kid she got her fortune told by a witch, who says her kids will die, we all knew that from TV though. What they left out of the show is that the witch said her brother would kill her. She assumes its Tyrion. So when Tyrion kills her father and confesses to killing Joffrey, she understandably freaks. But does this mean that Jaime is going to kill her in the books as a fakeout, will Tyrion do it and remove a potential plot twice, an unknown bastard of Tywin. If George RR Martin doesn’t get to writing we may never know.
I need to give Lena Headey a lot of respect for how she played Cersei. Reading Cersei’s narration, I think it would have been very easy to play her very one dimensionally. She’s consumed with power and does a pretty terrible job of ruling, so I feel like it would have been pretty easy to just play her as a mad power hungry woman.
Cersei wants to be near Tommen, which is understandable, however Uncle Kevan, who in the show is just generic old man to Tywin’s right, won’t serve as hand if she stays with Tommen. So he leaves to help Lancel who just got some lands through marriage (unforunately Lancel joins the Sparrows). Cersei picks a horrible Hand and pretty much every other position on the small council. She wants to keep the Tyrell’s away. When Tommen wants to learn how to joust form Loras, she flips out. She hates Margery and convinced she’s sleeping around. Also important to mention, Tommen in 8, so their marriage is most definitely not consummated. What’s really dumb is Cersei actually trusts one of Margery’s people as an informant, who I’m fairly certain is playing her, but time will tell. Anyway, Cersei does get Margery thrown into prison for cheating on Tommen (not sure if she does) but one of Margery’s “lovers” confesses to sleeping with Cersei, which gets her thrown in prison.
A bit about the High Sparrow. Cersei does not put him in power. The Septons vote on it, like with the Pope, and he wins. There’s been this movement of Sparrows as so many people have lost everything in all of the wars and find religion. Cersei does give him the power to arrest people and fight, which everyone says is a stupid idea and proves to be so. Also, Loras is wounded in battle, not arrested by the Sparrows. He and Renly are never really established as lovers. Loras’s sexuality is more hinted at, like one might say they’d be shocked if Loras brought a girlfriend to the wedding.
Sansa meanwhile does not go to Winterfell and marry Ramsey (yay!). She’s stuck with Littlefinger in the Eyrie, engaged to her cousin Robin (boo!). Robin definitely has epilepsy and is most likely being poisoned by Littlefinger. She’s pretending she’s Littlefinger’s bastard, but he’s still into her, so its creepy af!
Arya’s in Braavos, like before, but the Faceless Men really don’t think she should join them. They are like we will send you literally anywhere and let you be literally anyone and she says no! How dumb is that! Anyway, they send to spend part of her time selling shellfish and gaining information and part of her time serving in the House of Black and White. Also, the other young girl there looks like a young girl, but is really 35. Arya kills a man who desserted the Night’s Watch and when the Faceless Men find out they poison her so she goes blind (ostensibly because she’s not giving up her identity because Arya cares about deserts of the Night’s Watch, but A Girl does not). Also our boy, Jaqen, H’ghar, isn’t there, but more on him later. Arya also has a chance encounter with Sam. I’m hoping Sam is to the Stark children’s story lines what Pizza Planet is to Pixar Movies in that he will serve a role in every one.
So, like in the books, Jon orders Sam to go to Old Town to become a Maester. That’s where the similarities end with the TV show. Sam doesn’t want to go! Seriously Sam, you can just read, and learn stuff, which is all you want to do! No one will make you fight or make you feel like a craven. But he’s like my Dad won’t like it. Your Dad sent you away. You are not really is son anymore, buddy chill out! Jon also sends Maester Aemon, whos 102 on this voyage to Old Town and Gilly. Now, Mance Rayder had a baby, the mother died in childbirth and Gilly was nursing it. Because the Red Woman wants King’s blood, Jon and Maester Aemon design a plan where Gilly will leave her baby at Castle Black and take Rayder’s (who has King’s blood). Gilly is obviously not happy about this and cries most of the trip. Maester Aemon goes too because he’s a Targaryen, and, due to events, could have been King if he weren’t a Maester. Sidebar, can someone write some fan fic about Westeros being really well run if Maester Aemon become King Aemon? I’d read it. Anyway, they travel by boat, wind up in Braavos, where they stay a bit as Maester Aemon is sick and another sworn Brother deserts (the one Arya kills). He also freaks out after him and Gilly get together because of his vows, which is different than TV Sam who is like well she’s not my wife so the vow is not broken. Maester Aemon dies, but does learn about Dany and believes that she needs a Maester to help her and guide her. He’s sad he’ll die and not be the one to do ti.
Onto the Iron Islands. Balon Greyjoy actually has a bunch of brothers and there’s a different one who would be a better ruler than Euron. Another brother who is a priest, decides they’ll just vote on it (you know, like plunderer’s do) and Asha (Yara on TV) puts her candidacy up, but loses. Euron wins and promises he’s going to plunder the crap out of Westeros and will marry the Dragon Queen. He does not try to kill Asha, but she runs off anyway. Theon is presumed dead.
Some minor differences before we get into the DRAMA! Jaime relearns to fight from Ilyn Payne, not Bronn. Bronn marries this “slow” woman who during that riot against Joffrey gets raped and pregnant. Cersei convinced Bronn is helping Tyrion gets this woman’s younger sister and her husband to fight Bronn. They don’t succeed. It does not end well for them.
Onto some drama! Brienne is looking for Sansa at Jaime’s command. Podrick, who is a young boy, so sadly we’ll never find out what he did to those whores to make them give him his money back, follows her and she eventually takes him on. She winds up learning that the Hound has Sansa and pursues him. It is believed that the Hound pillaging like crazy. In her pursuit, she ends up on this island with a bunch of monks, she’s told the Hound is dead, so whoever is pillaging is just posing as him. My guess is the Hound is on the island, so like the Hound is dead, but Sandor Clegane is not, so the head monk wasn’t really lying. Anyway, eventually they get kidnapped while saving a bunch of kids from the New Hound by Lady Stoneheart’s (zombie Catleyn Stark) men. Gendry is one of them. Anyway, she’s super upset that Brienne has orders from Tommen to find Sansa and believes Brienne is going to hurt her, despite Brienne’s protests. Lady Stoneheart is going to hang her and Pod but doesn’t when Brienne agrees to find and kill Jaime!! I know, right!
I had to read some stuff on the internet, cause I got confused, but I think Jaqen is posing as a student studying with the Maester’s in Old Town. In the prologue there’s this student who gets killed, but then he magically appears with Sam in Old Town, at the end of the book but is a little different. So not sure what’s going on there, but I’m very concerned for Sam.
The real good tea, as the kids would say, is in Dorne! Everything is crazy different in Dorne. Oberlyn’s daughter’s are understandably upset their father is dead. Prince Doran Martell has them locked up before they can mess everything up. Ellaria Sand isn’t around and her children with Oberlyn are little and not involved. But, Doran’s daughter, who is heir to Dorne, because they get that the patriarchy is nonsense, wants to name Myrcella Queen of Westeros. She believes her younger brother, not the one engaged to Myrcella, is across the Narrow Sea trying to buy an army to take her claim. She thinks if Myrcella is Queen there’s a small chance he will be successful. She seduces Myrcella’s guard, win’s his trust and gets him to take her to be coronated. The plan gets thwarted, Myrcella gets hurt, but doesn’t die. When Doran finally talks to his daughter after she is captured, we find out Doran has been playing the long game. He was going to defeat Tywin (before he died) for ordering his sister murdered, but first was going to destory everything he holds dear. He was going to marry his daughter to Viserys Targaryen, but he died. So now he sending his son to marry Dany, so they can help her retake her claim to the Iron Throne. And that is some tea!